“The belief that we are venal and treacherous by nature is totally wrong and offensive.
No, sir, we are as patriotic and firm as any (…)
By our intelligence and the fruit of our effort
we deserve a place that is always denied to us.”
The wolf, the forest and the new man.
Homosexuality doesn’t seem to be a strange issue in our reality. The island undergoes changes and with it its people. Under the new circumstances thrive themes designed from the pain and resentment, but today silence is not gun. In a kind of kaleidoscope, that surprisingly doesn’t distorts our environment, obsessive attempts of progress and change blend opting for a more defined and diverse image.
That which the years have left behind today is redefined. Speaking of homosexuality in Cuba is an issue with too many wounds to heal and while not losing sight (we cannot forget what has so hurt), now we set eyes forward, and take steps towards new horizons, new realities. It is thought a space in which social actors mix with the state to set guidelines. Tensions are created that need to be resolved, black holes that allow glimpses of strengths to fight and demand. A theme, a Day, equal interests make this theme to become almost of everyone’s. Shamelessly some claimed by the understanding dialogue in a country where from its roots must grow equality, social inclusion and justice, but do these terms actually coexist with the Cuban LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community?
For the sixth time the Cuban Day against Homophobia is a space that is not limited to a few days, but it is up to a year. The poet, critic and playwright Norge Espinosa Mendoza is one such people who persist in the work of that year after year the Day’s activities contribute to think the issue through culture, believing that it is up to the artist to pose certain questions, even though they may be words and phrases that erupt in a space not prepared at all for this.
Why does the Day use as a fundamental means of expression the artistic one?
Culture is a way by which one can advance certain issues that are still slow to be accepted by the wider public, by the common reader or viewer, that is, by the “ordinary citizen”. One of the great pretexts through which people always have tried to stop the issue of sexual diversity and its introduction into Cuba as a more open question is related to that old excuse that there is still time, that the people are not prepared and we are a country in which over the years has been introducing himself this subject. The channels were the films, books, or there is a wealth of information that has to do with this, but what is lacking above all is to provide that through a line that allows you to understand some information to the recipient and I believe that culture has itself a unifying ability, a willingness to join forces and to project all of that into a new dimension that should be very helpful. I think it should be enhanced more.
Do you think that Cuban society is prepared to deal openly with the issue of homosexuality and the demands that are made?
People are prepared, I do not know about the society. When we have a more or less intimate dialogue, more or less particularized with some people you feel they are sensitized to the issue, but when it takes a group or mass contradictions start on moral, political, ideological standards and that makes the issue to begin as not to run in the same manner in which we talked about this in another kind of field.
In Cuba the groundwork for this type of approach is laid, the demands of visibility required is perfectly in line with everything that the country is. In fact in some ways homophobia has lowered its effect in Cuba, not as much as I would like, or as it should be, but it is minimized the rejection level that existed in the 80s and 70s. Comparatively we are better, but that in no way should accommodate us to think we already achieved a much more satisfactory state of affairs.
Are the government and the institutions of the country ready? How do these State’s decisions influence society?
From the initiatives of the National Sex Education Center there is a draft of a bill that is trying to reformulate some issues in the family code. This is a dream for so many years waiting and still not been brought to the point of public discussion in the structures that should be defending them. It’s something pending; a fundamental step is still delayed. It must be a long task for educational, political entities to come together with many other areas of culture and the culture of life in the country to achieve that range the way it should.
The fact that the policy supports a project somehow gives a guarantee of something, not full, because unfortunately we witness things that are approved on paper, which exist as a regulation or regulation and yet remain on paper. This is not organically integrated into the life in which we are all immersed. There has to be that balance between what the country is experiencing and what the mentalities who run the country are thinking about that same reality. There must be a kind of agreement in which many elements are still set, because one thing is that at the level of discourse that we should be tolerant, respect others and when we go out we realize that this is not entirely true.
We have to make a much more profound work, go more and more to the essence of the problem that has to do with a moral, macho upbringing , with criteria that sometimes are also felt from the very institutions that, in some cases apparently, support this type of project but in its own way of acting show us that there is still a lot of suspicion and homophobia of any kind, and therefore this is a battle that might be delayed much yet, but that we should not stop fighting for a single day.
What do you consider are the ways conducive to effective dialogue?
The key is to get the face to face dialogue between people. Nothing gets by mandate, as an idea already in advance is meekly approved is going to be effective in this regard. We may agree with them, we can have some kind of support to these ideas, but until people can’t make many of these ideas truly embody what they live and live what they want we will not be doing much.
There is a large percentage of people and institutions that support the issue, while there are other institutions, individuals and members of society who are not yet even trained to understand why they reject the problem, much less to explain why they reject it, that clearly shows that we still lack specific personal dialogue, in which each person with his training, his environment, with what he brings along can be part of this project to some extent or not, but at least not reject it outright.
How does the tradition of events that have occurred on the issue of homosexuality in the country influence what is being done today?
Keep in mind that in Cuba, unlike elsewhere LGBT community was not incorporated from a political struggle to the system, but bit by bit through culture and health some structures were forced to discuss these people with those who opposed them and those who should understand it from a mission they have in the society that was slowly leaving behind any kind of atavism, prejudices and to put them in another dimension. We have to be specific on the location of that until today has slowed much more pristine dialogue not only about sexuality and homosexuals, but on that concept much more varied and multiple on what the Cuban society should be, which is already today. We are subjected to a series of sometimes very violent changes in which we can lose sight of what looked to be taken on these matters. While these points are to make friction we are still too comfortable speaking about a problem that has nothing to be understood comfortably.
How does this change process is involved regarding homosexuality within the changes that are taking the country in other areas?
In certain structures when you change one piece everything else has to change. The building has to somehow restructure itself because it begins to lose balance and can become much more unstable than it was before. In Cuban society today the capacity that is being given to certain people to be more responsible for their personal destiny is in full compliance with such demands regarding LGBT community that is aspiring to recognition if not marriage, that is a right which has been established in many countries, then at least to recognize domestic partnerships, relationships of unmarried couples or at least have some legal defenses until now there aren’t still deliberately and duly recognized in the constitution. I think there is a point on which you can begin to master and there are several institutions working in this direction, but the resistance itself has been present in some of these debates shows how much is still to do in this very structure. The word change has to be written in capital letters and just seeing it from that position; I think from that dimension we will begin to understand that changing a small piece also means changing many others.