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  • glparramatta
    ... Subject: [Marxism] Gay Liberation and the Cuban Revolution Today Date: Tue, 20 Apr 2004 21:13:12 -0700 From: Walter Lippmann
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 20, 2004
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      -------- Original Message --------
      Subject: [Marxism] Gay Liberation and the Cuban Revolution Today
      Date: Tue, 20 Apr 2004 21:13:12 -0700
      From: "Walter Lippmann" <walterlx@...>
      Reply-To: walterlx@..., Activists and scholars in Marxist
      tradition <marxism@...>
      To: "Marxism List" <marxism@...>

      GAY LIBERATION AND THE CUBAN REVOLUTION TODAY
      by Walter Lippmann, Moderator, CubaNews list
      April 20, 2004

      Having been active in defense of the Cuban Revolution since
      1961, and having learned something about the importance of
      gay rights and liberation struggles in the overall process
      of securing a better world, it's important to look at these
      things and retain a sense of proportion. This isn't a
      complete discussion of this topic, which would require a
      book. It is a reply to an internet discussion article
      linked below.

      Gay rights, as important as it is, is NOT the central
      question facing humanity, as some people stubbornly,
      obsessively believe. Not that gays should wait, but for a
      white gay male in the United States to require that every
      struggle by every gay person be viewed as equal to that of
      every other struggle is absurd. To suggest that LGBT people
      are better off in Miami, Los Angeles or San Francisco, then
      in Cuba, it to look at things via a completely homocentric
      outlook. No one can be objective, or call themselves a
      Marxist, if they use such a framework.

      Homophobia exists in every society on the planet, and that
      would include Los Angeles, San Francisco and, of course,
      Cuba, which is a third-world country. O'Brien has never
      visited Cuba and knows nothing about Cubans, but he peddles
      disinformation about Cuba deliberately.

      Jon Hillson's opinions, which I often rejected, didn't keep
      him from writing an outstanding essay about Cuba and gays
      in the form of a long essay about the use and abuse of the
      politics of Reinaldo Arenas through the movie BEFORE NIGHT
      FALLS. No serious person can study the history of gays in
      Cuba without carefully looking at that essay:
      http://www.blythe.org/arenas.html

      There is now a vast literature on gays in Cuba and a lot of
      it has been published inside Cuba itself which makes it
      clear that the institutionalized homophobia which certainly
      did exist in the past was discarded a long time ago. At the
      recent book fair in Havana, one I attended and which since
      then has traveled all over the island, a range of new Cuban
      books were published, dealing with intimate personal family
      and sexual topic. In the book SEXUALITY IN THE SUNSET OF
      LIFE, there's a whole section on gays, lesbians and
      sexuality which is completely positive and accepting in
      tone. Check it:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/23970

      Maria Espin Castro, whose father is Raul Castro and whose
      mother is Vilma Espin, heads the Cuban national sex
      education center, CENESEX. She recently gave a long
      interview on gays in Cuba which was first published in ALMA
      MATER, the magazine of the University of Havana, and which
      was translated and reprinted on the CubaNews list and later
      on in THE MILITANT and GREEN LEFT WEEKLY:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/20624

      -------------------------------------------------------
      Two of Castro's most interesting paragraphs from this
      interview, printed in full below, answer this question:

      "How do you think our laws can better reflect respect for
      the rights of homosexuals?

      "The Constitution of the Republic protects all people,
      regardless of their race, sex or age. Obviously, this
      protection includes homosexuals, albeit not explicitly
      (when something like that is made explicit, it is official
      recognition that there is a need to avoid any type of
      discrimination, like racism or sexism).

      "In my opinion, some day, when plans are made to revise the
      constitution, I believe it should very explicitly include
      "sexual orientation", in the same way that it includes
      race, gender, and other considerations. I don't consider
      this to be an urgent matter, but I do believe we should be
      clearer about this in our laws, more evident, not only to
      protect against discrimination against these people in
      public institutions but also in the space of the family,
      because it is often there that a homosexual is first
      insulted or rejected."
      ------------------------------------------------------

      Australia's GREEN LEFT WEEKLY recently ran an exchange on
      gays in Cuba last month, in March 2004:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/23916

      Karen Lee Wald, who has spent thirty years working in and
      out of Cuba in its defense, adds this comment:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/23923

      Cuba's official GRANMA newspaper has pointed out the
      hypocrisy of Bush and company in making a campaign issue of
      anti-gay prejudice in the US constitution:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/23639

      In December 2003, JUVENTUD REBELDE ran a long and entirely
      sympathetic answer to a letter from a gay male reader in
      its sexual advice column:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/22787

      On New Year's Day in Havana this year I watched while a
      drag queen performed on the streets of the gritty
      neighborhood of Central Havana. The cops drove by and did
      nothing. I posted a short note about that here:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/22768

      A raft of articles on gays in Cuba can be found at the
      website of THE GULLY, which describes itself this way:

      "The Gully online magazine and The Gully en español are
      unique forums for the global lgbt community.

      "Our mission: to offer queer views on everything from the
      Iraq war and human rights in Guatemala to same-sex marriage
      and World Cup soccer, provoking both new ideas and new
      activists.

      "The Gully is the main project of the nonprofit Homocom
      Corporation, and relies, in large part, on tax-deductible
      donations from individual readers like you."
      http://www.thegully.com/essays/cuba/completecuba.html

      Gay film-maker Phil Tarley shared his recollections of a
      recent visit to the island, including a stay at the casa
      particular of gay artists Samuel Weinstein and his
      boyfriend Alberto (sorry, I forgot his last name) late last
      fall in a December 2003 essay published here:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/22709

      World AIDS day was celebrated as always December 1 in Cuba:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/22353

      Pedro Juan Gutierrez wrote an essay NEITHER SIN NOR
      ABSOLUTION, published in HABANERA, the magazine of the
      Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP)
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/21076

      Vilma Espin, President of the Federation of Cuban Woman was
      asked about discrimination against gays in Cuba and was
      quoted on that in THE MILITANT this way:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/19391

      Maria Espin Castro, whose father is Raul Castro and whose
      mother is Vilma Espin, heads the Cuban national sex
      education organization, CENESEX. She gave a long interview
      on gays in Cuba which was first published in ALMA MATER,
      the magazine of the University of Havana, and which was
      translated and reprinted on the CubaNews list and later on
      in THE MILITANT and GREEN LEFT WEEKLY:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/20624

      Pablo Milanes, the Cuban singer who lives and works in Cuba
      and travels to work and sing everywhere, takes up gay
      issues in his concerts and in the famous pro-gay song
      called two bodies. Here's an article on that which even got
      into the ultra-reactionary EL NUEVO HERALD:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/20543

      Joel del Rio, film critic for JUVENTUD REBELDE wrote about
      gays in Cuban art, which we had translated for the CubaNews
      list and which you can read at:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/20228

      I've not written here about the film STRAWBERRY AND
      CHOCOLATE, of which many are familiar. Less may know of the
      film VIDEO DE FAMILIA, a coming-out film which focuses on
      the reaction, the denial, and the dawning beginning of
      understanding in a Cuban family whose son left the island
      so he could live an open gay life in Miami. This movie
      played commercially on the island and was toured
      internationally. I'm not writing about movies such as
      BUTTERFLIES ON THE SCAFFOLD, which tells of a community
      theater in Havana where drag queens perform publicly. Nor
      the movie GAY CUBA, nor books like Ian Lumsden's MACHOS,
      MARICONES AND GAYS, a very critical but factually-objective
      book on this subject. Those with an open mind will look at
      some of these to get a fuller, more founded impression.

      Coming out simply isn't the same issue in Cuba as it is
      in the United States. Cuba could, in my opinion, do well
      if it had an organization such as Parents, Families and
      Friends of Lesbians and Gays, to work to educate and to
      fight prejudice in social and personal life in Cuba, but
      beyond that, how LGBT people organized for their rights
      is more of a matter for them to decide.

      Discussion of gender issues beyond those of the directly
      LGBT world are also developing widely in the Cuban media
      and academia. I haven't time or space to detail these
      matters here, but here are just a few revealing links:

      TV opens up discussion on taboo subject - homosexuality
      http://www.oneworld.org/ips2/apr98/17_39_070.html

      Homosexuality takes a step out of the closet
      http://www.aegis.com/news/ips/2003/IP030813.html

      Guaranteeing treatment for HIV-AIDS patients [Cuba has the
      lowest HIV-AIDS rate on the planet]
      http://www.aegis.com/news/ips/2001/IP010635.html

      As I said before, Cuba's no paradise for gays or anyone
      else, but to focus exclusively on Cuba today completely
      ignoring the many changes which have happened since the
      institutionalized discrimination which occurred in the late
      sixties and early seventies, is to deny reality.

      Facts are of no interest to those whose obsessive and
      irreconcilable hostility toward the Cuban Revolution is
      boundless. Mere facts are of no interest to such people who
      refuse to listen and therefore cannot see. But they do help
      those in the United States and its propaganda apparatus who
      are working hard to maintain and increase
      anti-revolutionary propaganda about Cuba.

      Walter Lippmann

      MY COMMENTS ABOVE ARE IN PARTIAL RESPONSE TO JOHN O'BRIEN:
      http://archives.econ.utah.edu/archives/marxism/2004w15/msg00152.htm
      ================================================

      INTERVIEW WITH MARIELA CASTRO ESPIN of CENESEX

      CUBA: Gay rights: how much has changed?

      In this interview by Eduardo Jimanez Garcia, which first
      appeared in Alma Mater, the journal of the University of
      Havana, Mariela Castro Espin, the director of the Cuban
      National Institute for Sex Education (CENESEX), advocates
      an amendment to the Cuban constitution to add homosexuality
      to the groups against which discrimination is expressly
      outlawed.

      Achieving dignity and respect for the rights of Cuban
      homosexuals is no easy task. Yet, it hardly seems humane to
      wait another century for some sort of "natural evolution"
      to bring about justice. The full emancipation of gays and
      lesbians in Cuba entails promoting and achieving changes in
      the imagination of a society that does not yet accept
      homosexuality, despite the fact it is more relaxed than
      before about the existence of this "phenomenon".

      Do you believe that the 1990s ushered in an era of greater
      social tolerance with respect to homosexuality in Cuba?

      Yes, I believe that people are a little more relaxed about
      a homosexual presence, both in public and in the privacy of
      the family, but only a little bit relaxed, not more
      tolerant. We have much more work to do in our society for
      this "relaxation" to mean real respect towards sexual
      diversity. That is why we must be very careful about how we
      try to achieve this.

      I do not have statistics or other kinds of scientific data
      to prove that there is more tolerance, because there are no
      studies on this specific subject in our country. Yet, I can
      be an observer of this phenomenon as a professional and as
      an individual. I do believe that since the 1990s there is
      greater acceptance of the presence of homosexuals by some
      portion of the population and public institutions. That
      does not mean that the contradiction has been resolved for
      all individuals at all levels of society.

      I think we are at a good moment to implement policies that
      are more explicit about the defence of the human rights of
      homosexuals, so that we are better prepared to confront any
      manifestation of discrimination on the grounds of sexual
      orientation.

      By the 1970s, reforms to the penal code excluded the
      classification of homosexuals as a criminals [because of
      their sexual orientation]; any word that discriminated
      against homosexuals was modified. However, that is not
      enough because I think our laws should better reflect the
      respect that homosexuals deserve.

      Greater and more professional work is needed at the
      microsocial level, because what this is about is trying to
      change perceptions, modifying the social imagination. I see
      this very humanistic attempt to achieve greater respect for
      the rights of homosexuals as the waging of a battle of
      ideas in our society. I believe this notion has to be part
      of the cultural and political battle because that would
      mean a cultural, social and political strengthening for the
      Cuban Revolution.

      Is that a proposal?

      Yes. It is a proposal I am making from my position of
      responsibility as the director of the CENESEX. I assure you
      it has been heard by receptive listeners. My proposal is in
      no way removed or distant from the spirit of the
      Revolution, or from the entire process that has brought
      about this call to a battle of ideas.

      It would be wonderful to be able to spark meaningful,
      inter-group discussion on this subject, so that Cuban
      society could develop a healthier culture of sexuality, one
      that is fairer, that helps to erode old, erroneous beliefs
      and prejudices that emphasize sexual orientation.

      Something like this would put the revolution even more in
      line with its humanistic ethic; the Cuban Revolution has
      been possible because of the participation of all men and
      women, of all Cubans who have identified with the conquests
      and dreams of that social project. Among all those who have
      participated there are also people of diverse sexual
      orientations. Thus, it would not be just for homosexuals to
      be denied respect because of some ancestral taboos. This is
      why I believe that we have much more work to do.

      How do you think our laws can better reflect respect for
      the rights of homosexuals?

      The Constitution of the Republic protects all people,
      regardless of their race, sex or age. Obviously, this
      protection includes homosexuals, albeit not explicitly
      (when something like that is made explicit, it is official
      recognition that there is a need to avoid any type of
      discrimination, like racism or sexism).

      In my opinion, some day, when plans are made to revise the
      constitution, I believe it should very explicitly include
      "sexual orientation", in the same way that it includes
      race, gender, and other considerations. I don't consider
      this to be an urgent matter, but I do believe we should be
      clearer about this in our laws, more evident, not only to
      protect against discrimination against these people in
      public institutions but also in the space of the family,
      because it is often there that a homosexual is first
      insulted or rejected.

      To be rejected by your own family is one of the most
      personally and emotionally destructive experiences a person
      can have, even more so when the condition that caused the
      rejection, sexual orientation, was not a matter of personal
      choice.

      Why do you think the gay community in Cuba has not
      organised itself, as it has in other countries, to demand,
      among other things, greater space and respect at a social
      level?

      I think the greatest difficulty is that there is no
      unifying and convincing project, because male and female
      homosexuals are as heterogeneous as heterosexuals. Yet, I
      don't see this as an obstacle; I see it as a complicated
      reality. It is also true that one should be able to count
      on support from the rest of Cuban civil society, a society
      permeated with sexual prejudices.

      But I think gays and lesbians should try a strategy of
      greater integration into social spaces rather than
      organise, because if they "organise", this could bring
      about a period of self-segregation, of isolation, and not
      greater social inclusion and a naturalisation of their
      sexual orientation in Cuban society.

      I believe that male and female homosexuals should
      participate more in different loci of social and political
      discussion, despite the prejudices, so they can make their
      truth, their real need for equality, their beliefs known,
      in order to gain support from the scientific community, and
      in that way bring to bear arguments that can effect the
      changes that are necessary in society - and see that they
      are just. I think such a strategy would be more effective
      and healthier, too.

      I believe we are now poised at a very opportune moment in
      which people with a homosexual orientation can be better
      understood and integrated into different places of our
      society.

      [This article was translated by ABC Language Solutions,
      http://www.abclanguagesolutions.com .
      For more information about Cuba:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews

      >From Green Left Weekly, March 3, 2004. Visit the Green Left
      Weekly home page



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