<ul><li>Cuba has a rich historical background, with most of its culture being modified versions of Spanish, Catholic and African norms and values. For many year discussions or sex education was prohibited, but was still understood by the community that sexual relations should only be between a man and a woman, and this was backed by their strong religious beliefs. Because of this homosexuals were oppressed and rejected. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Before the 1959 revolution Cuba was ruled by a nationalistic government that expressed homophobic ideals, claiming that homosexuals had a disease, they were a threat to the nation and that they should be eliminated. </li></ul><ul><li>Cuba even had a public Ostentation Law that was passed in the 1930’s and explicitly encouraged the harassment of gays. This law was repealed only in 1988 more than a half a century later. </li></ul>
<ul><li>The gender identity of ‘real’ men were defined by their relationships with women which was historically organized. </li></ul><ul><li>Masculine male had the freedom to explore their sexuality </li></ul><ul><li>as they pleased. </li></ul>
<ul><li>In Cuba there are different names for homosexual men that described how they are viewed by society. The Locas or maricones are homosexuals who’s appearances deviated the norm considered and ‘effeminate’. They received the most ridicule and discrimination. </li></ul><ul><li>The entendidos is the name given to more discrete homosexuals since they more appeared to be a regular man, however people knew that they were homosexuals. Because entendidos never openly declare they are gay, they were more tolerated by the society. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Homosexuals in Cuba believe that they are women, and as women they are only attracted to ‘real’ men. They believe that an effeminate personality and a macho personality complimented each other, and thus it was rare to see two effeminate men in relationships. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Homosexuals in Cuba were all age groups and races. Many ‘real’ men slept with gay men however the did not consider themselves homosexuals or ‘maricones’ a ‘faggot’. This happened a lot in the countryside, however once the community saw you as a homosexual a life ridicule and torment began. It was also not uncommon for people who were thought to be homosexuals to be jailed. </li></ul><ul><li>Many homosexual men to move to the city where they were more accepted and it was much easier to make a living especial with feminine jobs such as hairstylist, seamstress, etc. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Other than its social issues Cuba was also in political turmoil. In 1953 General Fulgencio Batista over threw the government and cancelled all general elections. This angered a young lawyer by the name of Fidel Castro. For many years Castro attempted to overthrow this government unsuccessfully, however in 1959 after many years of Guerrilla warfare he obtained success in his revolution and named himself ‘president for life’ and establishing a Communist government. </li></ul><ul><li>President Castro was supported by the United States government up until they started relations with the Soviet Union. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Fidel Castro lost relations with many other countries after the revolution for many different reasons, however one of the main things he is despised for was his human rights violations. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Renaldo Arenas was a great Cuban novelists who wrote about his hardship after being labeled a homosexual. He was labeled a homosexual after having relations with two teenage young men who stole his belongings after they had sex. When Arenas went to the police to report the young men's theft, he found out that they had already reported that he sexually assaulted them. In his book Arenas used a term that being a homosexual in Cuba “was like living in an Orwellian world”. He was referring to George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’, which is a graph description of a dystopia. </li></ul>
<ul><li>After running from the law Renaldo was arrested and jailed. He was later deported to the United States, since the new government decided that in order for them to rebuild their country, they had to eradicated the people they believe would prevent the countries positive progress. Other than homosexuals it has been documented that the mentally disable and criminals were also forced to leave Cuba over a two month period, this was known as the Mariel Boat lift in 1980. </li></ul>
<ul><li>By the 80’s Cuban gay’s started to feel less intimidated by the government and can be commonly seen as a part of the street life both in the country and the cities. </li></ul><ul><li>They however try to be discrete with their lifestyles and more blend in with the same attire of ‘real’ men. But they can be distinguished by their walk and how they look at other men. </li></ul>
<ul><li>It has also been noticed that many gay Cuban’s also are members of the Catholic church in Cuba. They attend weekly services comfortably because of the Archbishop of Havana Cardinal Jaime Ortega, who was known for being sympathetic to homosexuals, due to the many human rights activist in Cuba. </li></ul>
<ul><li>From researching this topic, I have once again learnt that </li></ul><ul><li>societies are very much constructed on norms, values and even laws, and when they are negative people are violated. I also learned that countries that have a democracy may be more equipped to change social norms, and better provide for the equal rights of it citizens. </li></ul>
<ul><li>References </li></ul><ul><li>Francisco Soto- Gay Cuban Nation (online review)-Journal of the History of Sexuality 11.4(2002) : http://muse.jhi.edu/journal_of_the_history_of_sexuality/vo11/11.4soto.html </li></ul><ul><li>Lumsden, Ian; Machos, Maricones, & Gays: Cuba and Homosexuality; Temple University Press 1996. </li></ul><ul><li>Bejel, Emilio; Gay Cuban Nation; University of Chicago Press 2001 </li></ul><ul><li>The Cuban Revolution (online); </li></ul><ul><li>http://library.thinkquest.org/20176/crevolution.htm </li></ul><ul><li>Pictures </li></ul><ul><li>www.lasamericasfilms.org/films.htm </li></ul><ul><li>www.travelblogs.com/articles/gay-cuba </li></ul><ul><li>www.nndb.com/.../000023049/fidel-castro-sm.jpg </li></ul>
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