Telenovelas and Teleprejudices / Rosa María Rodríguez Torrado

Cuban television debuts at its usual time of 9:00 in the evening, on the Cubavision channel, a telenovela–soap opera–titled “Under the Same Sun,” which is already generating a buzz. Although they haven’t provided much information about it, it’s said to consist of three stories. In the first one being aired, are the taboos and intolerance that still exist in society against homosexuality, among others. Some time ago an interdisciplinary team, taking advantage of the reach of this mass media, television, and with the support of the press, began influencing people with a different view of human sexual diversity. I celebrate the intention and the task, even more because a long time ago international organizations, such as the United Nations, and coalitions of countries, such as the European Union, jumped the barrier of segregation for sexual preferences and established legal mechanisms to prevent discriminatory practices in this and other aspects. We perceive in our country that perception is gradually changing in this regard.

Societies, which over the course of history have been governed by heterosexual men, supported through the ages the macho attitudes with marginalized visions and social standards that have fallen into disuse. Thus discrimination against women was such that no one considered lesbianism as a sign of homosexuality in them, while in men it was regarded as a disease. Thus, a lesbian inclination in women was actually suspected, it was subject to double or more incisive discrimination.

Cuba was no exception in regard to this evil. Since the beginning of this process–which increasingly is less than revolutionary–it is customary to belittle and devalue those who are different. To be gay is to suffer humiliation, along with continuing detentions and restrictions on travel to avoid to meeting with like-minded people and related groups. Everything was questioned and questionable, except for the bearded manhood who had fought for this model. Beyond that, machismo and militarism were the medals of those times which marginalized people of different sexual orientation. They saw them and looked down at them like flies in the soup, and so they were treated …

Today, Dr. Mariela Castro, Raul’s daughter and Fidel’s niece is trying to clean up the images of her uncle and father from decades ago, and vindicate the rights of the gay community in a crusade against homophobia. Marches are held each year in the streets of the capital by bringing together several hundred homosexuals to demand that their rights be recognized. I support Mariela’s campaign, although it reawakens in me the logical question that surely has attracted many. “Don’t heterosexuals have rights too? What about the rest of society? What about freedom of expression and association? And the multiparty system?”

It is incongruous that the daughter of Cuban President be allowed to demonstrate in our streets with a large group of people who advocate sexual freedom that we, as part of alternative civil society, may not do so, having had for decades other valid demands, legitimate and humane that are also covered by international legislation as a part of modernity. There should be consistency in the rights issue, you should not recognize some and ignore others.

Taking this work as a departure point, it strikes me that is just and necessary to hold a day against diversophobia, or fear of political diversity, from which the Cuban authorities and their supporters suffer.

For now, I think we can start an “International Campaign Against Pluriphobia“–rejection or fear of plurality–to prevent totalitarian systems from washing their hands of contradictions, and manipulating them to look like the rule of law. In justice and legitimacy, it is necessary to paint the entire house, not just the facade.

May 30 2011