Let Us Talk About Homophobia in Cuba / Wendy Iriepa and Ignacio Estrada

Havana, Cuba– During the entire month of May, the Cuban government in conjunction with the official entity Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual (CENESEX, National Center of Sexual Education) has developed a group of activities with the purpose of curtailing homophobia in Cuba and to demonstrate its commitment to walk alongside the LGBT, Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders on the island.

Fruitless and insufficient efforts that lack credibility in contrast to the true reality that this community lives daily. The official efforts that are led by Mariela Castro Espín have only had, until the moment, the achievement of approving in 2008 genital reconstructions. These add up, to date, to a total of 16 surgical intentions headed by a group of Belgian specialists. It is valid to point out that said operations have been seen to be halted after the abrupt departure of Wendy Iriepa Díaz from CENESEX.

One would have to ask the LGBT, “which is the most homophobic sector in Cuba?” If we analyze the reality this community faces in spite of uncertain apertures and inefficient campaigns, we would find a society in which the existent homophobia may be called Governmental or Official Homophobia.

I realize we are a “macho” nation by identity, but I do not fail to realize who the true culprit is behind what is faced by a community that, for more than five decades, has lived the slap on the back by those who sent it to forced labor camps, into exile, stigmatized it, marginalized it and now, changing its tactic, sends it to prison for the supposed crime of posing a social danger.

It is time to speak of things as they are. “Whoever is afraid should buy a dog,” says one of the phrases repeated daily on the island. I can not adapt it to me because I have no fear of expressing what I feel and think. Even less so do I have to buy a dog because I have on my side all of the existent social networks which, unlike dogs, can not be poisoned or decapitated. It is a weapon that constantly barks and is at the defense of humanity.

Let us call homophobia in Cuba Governmental Homophobia. Is it by any chance not they who are culpable for all that we have lived? Are they not the ones who pursue us daily and take us into police units for roaming the Cuban streets? Is this not the same government that submerges us into a state of lacking rights and usurps each of our spaces? If we wanted to keep asking, I would ask Mariela Castro Espín several things.

One of the questions we could ask this feminine personage, who today makes an effort to demonstrate to the world her leadership, why does she make such an effort in taking all the credit for the work with the LGBT community in Cuba when it was her mother who initiated this gesture before the Cuban government? Why does she try to erase the role developed by that Belgian sexologist who lived for years in Cuba? What is her true intention in representing the Cuban LGBT community? What gives her a sense of identification with our community, perchance is she equal to us or some member of her family a member of our organization? And one of those questions I would not tire of repeating to her is, “Does there exist some relation between those five Cubans sanctioned in the United States — for spying — and the LGBT community?” When I ask this last question, it is due to her use of placards demanding their liberty on behalf of the LGBT community.

I am a member of that LGBT community and have never participated in demanding liberty for any of them (the aforementioned group of five); I believe that before we can achieve liberty for those whom the Cuban government says are innocent, we must achieve liberty for each one of those homosexuals taken to prison and we have to achieve a public apology for what we have lived through for years.

Now let us talk about Homophobia with the truth and, seated in the bench for the accused, the true culprits.

Translated by: Maria Montoto

May 28 2012