Cuban Homosexuals – Excluded From The Army And Taboo In The Dissidence
Cuban Homosexuals: Excluded From The Army And Taboo In The Dissidence /
Ivan Garcia, 30 June 2016 — “Beyoncé” — that’s what she likes to be
called — prostitutes herself for less than two dollars on the outskirts
of the old bus stop of Víbora, 30 minutes by car from the center of Havana.
By day she’s an “emerging teacher” in a secondary school, that is one of
a class of teachers created due to the shortage of experienced teachers
who begin training in the 11th grade at age 16 and take over a classroom
while they’re still teenagers themselves. By night she goes out to hunt
clients on the Diez de Octubre [Tenth of October] roadway, dressed as a
woman. She wears a blond wig, a clinging dress, high-heeled shoes, too
much makeup and a cheap, penetrating perfume that she combines with an
imitation-Gucci handbag and some false eyelashes imported from Miami.
Beyoncé remembers that three years ago they summoned her to the
municipal recruitment committee to take a medical exam that endorsed her
admission to General Military Service.
“When I arrived dressed as a woman, an official sent me home. With an
angry tone, he told me: ’You have to be dressed appropriately when you
come before State institutions.’ Among other things I told the
Cro-Magnon: ’Boy, and perhaps I’ll show up nude.’ Then I asked him: ’We
gays don’t have the right to defend the homeland?’ The soldier turned
around and left,” says the Havanan transvestite.
According to Beyoncé, the recruitment office didn’t even bother to
summon her. “I don’t like military life, but it would be an interesting
experience to be surrounded by so many males. You can imagine the number
of men I could sleep with. They would call me ’Beyoncé the canteen’,”
she says, smiling.
Serguey’s story was different. He always suspected that he was
imprisoned in the wrong body. “From secondary school on I liked men. But
I led a double life in order to not disgust my parents. I played
basketball, I talked like a tough guy, but no woman interested me. I
kept my homosexual relations hidden. When I finished pre-university,
they called me for military service.”
Serguey continues remembering: “That was at the beginning of the ’90s.
When the time came for the physical exam, I had to get naked and open my
cheeks. Then the doctor who was there called me aside. It was like a
police interrogation. I told him that yes, I was gay, but I didn’t want
my family to know. They told me they wouldn’t tell, but an official told
my father anyway. It’s not that I was interested in being a recruit, but
I always wondered why a homosexual couldn’t be a soldier.”
Yosvany, a captain in the armed forces, points out that “according to
the military regulation, gays, ex-convicts and counterrevolutionaries
aren’t permitted to join the institution.”
When they ask him for the reasons, he explains: “Let’s speak clearly.
Just because they tolerate homosexuals now doesn’t mean that we have to
accept them everywhere. In the army as in the police, you need virility
and responsible behavior. A criminal isn’t going to respect a police
officer wearing feathers. And in the armed forces a gay could be more
patriotic than anyone, but he’s a hindrance because of his inappropriate
conduct. That’s the norm not only in Cuba. I believe there’s no army in
the world that accepts gays in their ranks.”
Argelio, a former Major in the armed forces, recognizes that among the
officers and recruits, “from time to time a fag slips through. It
happens. I’ve been in units where there were cases of homosexual
relations. But when it happens, ipso facto, the solider or officer gets
a dishonorable discharge.”
Osvaldo, a historian, considers “that military institutions tend to be
very retrograde. Although in the history of Cuba there are examples of
revolutionary leaders with homosexual conduct or moral standards, it
doesn’t agree with society. There is credible proof that José Martí, our
national hero, the fruit of an extra-marital relationship with Carmen
Miyares, fathered María Mantilla. Also, among some mambises (guerrilla
Cuban soldiers who fought against Spain in the wars for independence)
there was homosexuality. The most rumored was the supposed loving
relationship of Antonio Maceo with Panchito Gómez Toro, his aide and the
son of Máximo Gómez. Whether true or false, they are never going to stop
being heroes of the fatherland.
Fidel Castro, a bulletproof homophobe, since his university years was
the friend of the deceased Alfredo Guevara, an explicit homosexual.
Carlos, a sociologist, recognizes that “the Cuban Government has taken a
huge leap in recognizing the LGBT community. But it’s taking only
half-measures to legalize homosexual marriage, accept gays in the army
or promote government ministers who are openly homosexual.”
Norge, a retired doctor, remembers “that in the middle of the ’60s,
research commissions were created to study the causes of homosexual
behavior and their possible cures with hormonal medication. In the UMAP
forced labor camps, many gays served as guinea pigs.”
Mariela Castro, the daughter of the autocrat Raúl Castro, who has
undertaken a national and international crusade in favor of the LGBT
community — if and only if they don’t dissent from the regime — hasn’t
managed to get the Council of State and the one-note National Parliament
to authorize homosexuals as members of the armed forces.
The intransigence toward accepting people with a different sexuality
doesn’t affect only military institutions. Inside the dissidence in
Cuba, explicit homosexuality is also taboo.
In a macho and homophobic society like Cuba’s, where the Government
prohibits political differences, gay and lesbian opponents don’t openly
reveal their homosexuality. And they bet on staying in the closet.
Translated by Regina Anavy
Source: Cuban Homosexuals: Excluded From The Army And Taboo In The
Dissidence / Iván García – Translating Cuba –