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025. cuban & queer: a story of pride and resistance

*This transcript is automated. Please excuse typos *

[00:00:00] Carmen: Hi, Carmen. Hi, Fryda. How you doing?

[00:00:11] Fryda: Uh, super excited. This is the first episode of season four.

[00:00:15] Carmen: Yes. Party people. Welcome back season four, they get easy in the house. What up

sound the alarms found the alarm. Thank you everybody for coming with us on this journey. We are so happy to be here. Like I, I just can't believe we're doing

[00:00:31] Fryda: this. I know here we are ready to put out some episodes. To be with you all every other week. And to start having some really exciting conversations, our favorite conversations.

So before we go into today's episode, we do have a few little announcements like Carmen, and I we've took a break, but we got working. So we started working with a network. Sonoro is a media company. They're a Latino media company and we've joined them. they're working to help. Promote our work to promote our podcast.

And you might notice a few changes while we're with them, aside from

[00:01:10] Carmen: graphics, which you will see their logo on our car art and moving forward, we will probably have different graphics, even though we're still working with Jesse, but you might start to hear some ads and ads really help us pay the bills and keep going.

You will still be getting a hundred thousand percent free to Carmen content, a hundred thousand percent. We get to keep our intellectual property. So

[00:01:29] Fryda: that's fun. Yeah. That's all ours. And I love that in the first minute of this first episode, we get to say the word intellectual property.

it's an honor.

[00:01:53] Carmen: Happy pride, happy pride We're

[00:01:55] Fryda: going into gender into sexuality, into some big hefty components of our humanity. We're talking about queerness and we're using that word and we're using that concept to help facilitate this conversation, but let's start off by defining what is queer.

[00:02:14] Carmen: Queerness is a broad concept.

And it's really specifically talking about not conforming to the norm. Queerness is defined as opposition to the norm. So when it comes to gender and sexuality, I would like to present queerness and the way we're going to look at it in two different main themes. One would be gender identity. And the other one is sexuality specifically within the Cuban culture.

[00:02:35] Fryda: So gender identity, and just to really get into the basics here, your gender is your presentation of what gender you are and your sexuality is. What you're sexually attracted to or who you're sexually attracted to during

[00:02:51] Carmen: being pride month, we wanted to make an episode and start a larger conversation about queerness in the humanity.

And when we were thinking about where to start with this, we thought it was really important to us that we were able to untangle how we felt about the roles that society has prescribed to us.

[00:03:07] Fryda: Yeah. And there's a few things that we, you will probably recognize about society's expectations of us in our roles.

And so maybe let's start in the most basic form of talking about gender presentation overall, right? If you are a Cuban woman or a Cuban man, which are the two genders that exist in humanity, what are you expected to do? What roles are you expected to inhabit? I mean, we got into this in a really kind of silly way when we first talked about Cuban.

But we mostly just covered. If you go listen to that episode, we mostly covered what you were expected to wear, how you're expected to exist and what part of the house you're probably expected to hang out in during

[00:03:49] Carmen: party. Yeah. Even just thinking about going back home and going to actual parties, it's like the women wind up inside the kitchen and the men are outside playing dominoes

[00:03:57] Fryda: and drinking beer.

So women end up existing inside the sphere of the home and men still exist outside. And these are spheres which have been strictly outlined for us throughout history. So women are caretakers they're expected to clean up afterwards. They're also often expected to kind of serve, serve food. And so this party is a bit of a MI let's imagine that it's a microcosm of larger society.


[00:04:21] Carmen: are outside chilling, drinking beer, and being loud with their giant sausage fingers and their gold rings. And they're going Veta and their tobacco slamming dominoes onto tables and roasting a pork. Because like, I don't know. I man, like, is that how it is? Like, I don't know. You should, you should really also have a barreling

[00:04:36] Fryda: center, barreling voice, ideally as well.

You're humor. You're loud. You take up a lot of space. I know that that's like the typical presentation of a Cuban

[00:04:47] Carmen: man. Well like an old Cuban man, obviously there are younger dudes who are like more attractives than that, but anyway, same concepts. Just cute package. Yeah. And if you really think about it, these two presentations are incredibly stifling because.

What if you don't wanna clean up after the guys, step one, one, literally my struggle, my entire fucking life. . And what if you don't wanna be outside with the guys being super aggressive and macho and like, what if you're just kind of like a shy guy?

[00:05:11] Fryda: Yeah. What if you would rather have like sensitive conversations inside yeah.

And you're a man when we're presenting these. Two buckets to exist in. It's hard to navigate the in between and in Cuban society moving on from gender presentation and into sexual identity, there are particular buckets that you're. Expect it to be like the, the norm is to be attracted to the opposite sex, even though in modern Cuban society.

Like we know that gay people exist that lesbians exist, but that's probably as specific as it gets. I. and they exist a little bit outside of, of typical society, or they need to come

[00:05:54] Carmen: out. Being Cuban is synonymous with sensuality because Cuba, as a people, as a country, as a culture is so highly sexualized in the media and in society that even like the way, at least here in the us, even the way things are so taboo because of political things, like embargo's all of that winds up being.

Sexy by nature of wanting what you can't have this winds up expressing itself, again as an undertone, because you could be a woman for example, and wear Baba and still be highly sexualized. The options that women have for expressing. Is like, you should want to be a mother. You should want to dress femininely.

And so actually, when we were doing a lot of research for this episode, we didn't really find too much about lesbians. And we did find a lot about gay men.

[00:06:38] Fryda: They're a bit more invisible in terms of visibility in larger Cuban society. I would like

[00:06:43] Carmen: to point out that part of this is because we are reading history and history is told by the victors.

And in this case it would be the

[00:06:49] Fryda: patriarchy. In Cuban society, there certainly is a preference for heterosexuality, since it can lead to the typical family unit that is at the core of what is believed to be Cuban society, anything in between or anything. That's a little bit different. It can is still very much seen as a taboo or as something that you might accept your child for being.

And that is really unfortunate. I think that is still where we are at in modern society. Let's say even as gay and lesbian are accepted as identities, BI sexualism, let's say is still considered like a woman, possibly being a slut, a woman being a little too promiscuous because Hey, apparently you've gotta choose one.

And so this might sound familiar to many folks outside of Cuban society. Is part of larger society, but I've, I've just heard this resonate so much in modern Cuban families and conversations. There's


[00:07:55] Carmen: the whole microaggression and I'm bringing this up because I feel like this is a very particular to the humanity.

Like have you ever heard of our, a person of our parents' generation talk about somebody who they know and then telling a story about that person and it. Nothing to do with their sexuality, but somehow if they're gay, they have to mention it. And then they have to say like, oh, but it's fine. I don't care.

Things like that are things that I grew up hearing all the time.

[00:08:15] Fryda: It's hard to come out really, really hard to come out in Cuban society. In particular, it's hard to come out of your roles and in gender roles, it's hard to come out as having a different sexual identity. So that's modern Cuban society. And because this is, they get easy.

We did a little bit a history research. Let's throw it back, baby. Take it. Easy

[00:08:41] Carmen: history journey. So how did we get

[00:08:45] Fryda: here? Yeah. How do we get here? So like, We tried to go way, way, way, way, way back. Okay. We tried really hard and we don't have that much information about way, way back. . Yeah. So once upon a time in pre-contact Cuba, the SI bonnet, the thi and others, they were chilling.

Um, and we don't know that much about their sexuality, but we know a little bit about how they structured their society. Okay. So at the very least Taino and Thena people, they were particularly matrilineal women actually were able to have a big role in passing on lineage. They were able to participate at various levels of society, including political hierarchy, which means, Hey, that means you had to exist outside of the sphere of the.

Woo. Um, so that tells you a little bit about gender in that women's roles weren't prescribed in the way that they even are today. Now sexuality, that concept was really hard to trace down. So if anyone knows a. Anything about D SI sexuality. Yeah. KA at us, we want it, we wanna know this

[00:09:55] Carmen: then there's also the yoruban people.

And I think they're also super interesting because they didn't think of gender as in like man or woman. They thought of gender, mostly as reproductive roles that people have. And in this particular case, people's reproductive roles in the family did not describe power. And that's the key. Yeah,

[00:10:11] Fryda: they did not ascribe.

Any degree of power. So whether or not you had one particular reproductive role or another did not mean that you had greater power over the other person because today gender definitely describes the kind of power that you have, what fear you exist in and how much power you in habit in society in Yoruba society of note.

Age was a distinguisher of power. And so it wasn't gender as much as it was age. And excuse me for saying was yoruban society is still and is, but in Cuba, the yod Dubens were brought over as enslaved Africans. So their society had to transform was forced to transform while in. Yeah. Unfortunately, Christianity was one of the things that was first upon them and still, they

[00:11:02] Carmen: found ways to practice their own religions by using Christian saints and literature as proxies for their gods and their stories.

So that in that way they could openly practice. So that's really cool. Like the little organizer in me is just. Glowing a little bit. Um, and so an example of this is the God of war and the Lukumi religion is Chango. The Christian proxy is actually Santa barbara, which is a woman. You would normally think that the God of war being a very masculine energy would be male, but actually this God just didn't have a gender.

And when it came time to assigning this, they were like, oh, I guess makes sense. Because you know, red and various other parallels with that specific character

[00:11:39] Fryda: in Christianity. Yeah. I mean, it shows how irrelevant. Gender was in describing the gods of their society. And similarly, yoruban language does not have gender.

And so it's even less so ingrained in part of the day to day. So religion did not have gender language does not have gender. So all these things are non gendered. What is super gendered Spanish? What religion is very gendered Catholicism and who came and brought all of. Stuff over to Cuba, the Spanish they, they came through with all of this stuff.

[00:12:22] Carmen: come through with your Catholicism

[00:12:24] Fryda: swinging and come through with, uh, European gender norms, uh, European hierarchy as well. Cuz the hierarchy of European society was quite different from any hierarchy that existed among the indigenous people in Cuba and among the Yoruban. Enslaved people that they brought over, what components of this like European society made its way.

They were the colonizers. So part of their goal was to erase the other cultures in

[00:12:52] Carmen: imposing European gender norms, which by the way, are steeped in, as we have established religion and patriarchy, a hierarchy is established where there was otherwise maybe not really one so much before. Um, as we have described with the Ruben people, the the

[00:13:09] Fryda: right they were in patrilineal.

Necessarily, but here are the Spanish and they are patrilineal and they're patriarchal.

[00:13:15] Carmen: Yeah. Mm-hmm and they're coming in with all of these ideas and they're imposing these ideas and these structures upon them. So now things like, for example, marriage, divorce, pregnancy, all of those things that hold up the pillars of society and the distribution of wealth in power and what rights different people get, all of that gets completely rewritten.

And since these people now have to conform to this new way of being and learn to it, they are also now being monitor. And policed by these people that also own them. It's complete erasure of an entire people. And that is how colonizers subordinate.

[00:13:50] Fryda: This is colonization 1 0 1, right? Like in the practice of colonizing, not only do you erase existing society, but you also divide and conquer and.

What better way of creating divisions by than by creating hierarchy based off of gender expectations. What better way of dividing and conquering than by saying that a particular way of expressing yourself sexually is, is something that's demon, deniable. And so all of these different breakages in society, they.

Always exist. They were also a colonization strategy, which I think is really important to note. And so

[00:14:31] Carmen: what ended up happening here is that women got demoted to second class in relation to their husbands now, and the way that things were divided and distributed were now completely different. Now you start to.

See this hierarchy, like I said, of who we deem is important in society and who gets to make the decision for everybody else. And when you don't have representation at that level, then you wind up being shafted. You never get your needs met. And this is how we wind up criminalizing things like being gay.

And this is how we wind up criminalizing things like being trans. So if you're sitting there thinking Carmen, Frida, maybe you don't have to think of gender as a political thing because it's not. We're here to tell you that it is, and this is how

[00:15:09] Fryda: let's begin with a, the first inquisition in Cuba in 1571.

So here's our first date. We were able to put on the timeline, 1571, the earliest documented inquisition in Cuba. So this was a Catholic inquisition started of course, by the Spanish colonizers and. Notable that part of this inquisition was specifically directed against men who were described as Amos or as feminine.

And so men. Having any feminine qualities deemed them as targets from an inquisition. If you're an inquisitor, you target dangerous things in as part of this inquisition protecting the expression of masculinity was apparently of the biggest deal. Masculinity is so fragile. So this is the one of many.

Inquisitions that did happen starting in 1571. We're going to go straight from that inquisition to the years of Jose, Jose, Marti, and the Spanish revolution, the 10 years war and the fight for Spanish independence,

[00:16:21] Carmen: shameless plague go listen to our episodes about Jose Jose Marti, because you will get to learn all about this man, but essentially he is known among the humanity as a complete Saint.

And he actually spent some time in New York. He was exiled. Some point during the early 19 hundreds. And he saw the suffragist movement going on, he was also a poet and a writer, so that during this time in his writing and also a man. Yeah. And also a man, he records that he's watching all of these American women on the streets fighting for their rights in New York.

And he's describing them as masculine and the way that he said it was almost as if these women were not as virtuous and not as worthy because they're masculine. And I think that's really important because this is one of the voices of the Cuban diaspora. And this is what he's saying at the time

[00:17:05] Fryda: about women.

This is a key voice in Cuban independence against the Spanish and in Cuban freedom and identity, but also a key voice describing. The role of women and men describing what it means to be Cuban. And so it's so interesting again, how these two social revolution and values come together in the mind of CE Martin, the Saint of this time.

And around this time, there was an article published in the us that commented on Cuban. Said that all of Cuba was feminine and he was saying it like in a bad way. Here's the thing in the same way that Jose Marti was calling the SRA jets to masculine the United States was like shoving Cuba and its efforts by calling the Cubans to feminine, both femininity and masculinity.

Are used as jabs on both sides of this on the side of the United States on the side of Jose. And so Jose did write a clap back to this article, calling Cuba to feminine this article, which was actually called the vindication of Cuba. He said, don't call us a feminine village. These feminine men had enough courage and valor to lift up an arm against a despotic government.

So he actually said that these men who are so feminine had enough courage and valor because it's, I, because femininity, isn't usually associated with courage and valor, but it's an interesting thing. That he didn't say these men aren't feminine. He said these feminine men actually have courage in valor.

That's a little more complex. honestly semantics matter. Semantics do matter. Yeah. And

[00:18:57] Carmen: I just wanna point out not for nothing, but if you look at a picture of a RD, he's not like a macho guy, like he's like tall and skinny and lengthy, and he's got this goofy mustache and you know, he's like a poet and.

Poetry is considered kind of feminine. It's a poet. I can just imagine, like, I can just imagine this being like a little playground fight where some kids are like, you throw like a girl and then someone else is like, oh yeah, really like

[00:19:16] Fryda: a girl and then punches him. Yeah. And so I think that it's really good that you call this a playground fight because what's being locked around is.

Strict gender ideas. As soon as you call something too feminine or too masculine, like that's, it, it's a fight. It's a criticism and it entirely undermines movements. It undermines the ser jets. It undermines Cuban's fight for independence, gender. Isn't just a thing that happens in the home. It's a thing that was like you said, political in the 18 hundreds, it was political.

The beginning,

[00:19:50] Carmen: bam, hot tank. You heard it here

[00:19:52] Fryda: first folks. Okay. We're not the first ones to say this shit, but I think one last thing about Jose Jose Marti, before we like continue on is that Jose Marti also wrote a lot of poems in admiring women, but. Expecting them to exist in a very particular role in society, like expecting them to serve their men and wait for their men to come back from war and to be morally pure, like to be totally pure.

And so those are some red flags . Yeah,

[00:20:20] Carmen: it really was like that. And, and I think in some ways, the reason why this is still a sore point for us that were out here, packaging is because these are the things that stayed with us as a people and as a culture. And these are the things that are expected from us still as women and men.

But anyway, back to the 10 years war, I wanna bring up one of my favorite figures. Lahita Manuel Rodriguez, who is a trans woman, a Mumbia who was known for having all the courage and all the valor. Literally all of literature written about this person, both in the Cuban media and outside of the Cuban media at the larger diaspora.

Describe this person as being one of the toughest, most Valiant and victorious fighters, her name Lahita translates into the little witch. She was a black artist that had previously been condemned to slavery. And I don't know, man. I just think that the fact that despite all of this should show that we've described about gender and identity and sexuality.

And despite all of that, that we still uphold one of the greatest figures in. The Pantheon of Cuban fighters

[00:21:21] Fryda: was a black trans person.

[00:21:24] Carmen: black trans person. Yeah. And I'm just like, bro, yo, this is like, they're just like, fuck it. Like, what

[00:21:29] Fryda: else do I have to lose? Of course, because like, if you're, if you are already exist in the sidelines to that degree, like you're already in the sidelines cuz you're black, you're in the sidelines.

Cuz you're trans you're in the sidelines cuz like you're wearing a dress and you're calling yourself. Lahita okay. But you're also. Brought straight in the middle of a war effort and considered an inspiration. And you're super, highly revered. Like they have a bunch of other names to them of note, these names were gendered masculine.

So they were also called ire bra. This person existed both at the sidelines at the very center and much like other historical figures that we recognize. But don't talk about too much like Stonewall. This was a black trans person. Being themselves. I feel like in the moments when people really need someone to stand up, it ends up being like.

A black trans person we

[00:22:30] Carmen: love this Lahita while we're here in the 18 hundreds, let's bring it back down and have a sobering conversation about eugenic and how that was a thing that was happening. You just drop that word. I don't know how to bring that up. Like, I don't know how to grace to bring it up. So I'm just like, we're gonna have to rip the bandaid off here.

Like, we're just gonna talk about Eugen X now. Okay. Okay. and how that was really fucked up and it was going on then, and it was, and it really structured the way that we set up society later. So eugenic, for those of you who do not know, imagine it's like human planned breeding with the idea of improving race.

Think of like literally Mik. If you've ever heard

[00:23:09] Fryda: that, which is a quote that we still hear today, U means good. Genix means genetics and it's based in false science. So there is no science that backs up a better gene or worse genes when it comes to race or when it comes to gender identity and more, but in the 18 hundreds, This was like starting to be pedaled as the law of the land.

Yeah. People

[00:23:33] Carmen: really believe this. And, and the thing is that, yeah. And it began to introduce this idea in the culture that, that some people are genetically superior to others and that those who are not genetically superior are lesser than, and therefore not worthy of living. And so therefore we do not breed

[00:23:48] Fryda: for those and not worthy of reproducing.

So it's sexual selection. Yeah. And so. In using this justification, a couple of groups in society were, were shoved away into insane. Asylums were shoved away into prisons. And, and during this time it was entirely commended. That would be people who were considered crazy or insane. People who committed a crime.

We're believed to be genetically inferior as well, prostitutes, ethnic minorities, and last but not least sodomites, which is a word for men who have sex with men. And it's also a biblical term. And so

[00:24:29] Carmen: eugenics ended up being the basis for the criminal code in Cuba that has predominantly lasted now throughout history.

And the thing is that to criminalize these sexual act between two people and trying to police what people do in their own bedrooms and establish that these people are lesser than is a way to control. Society and further dehumanize people.

[00:24:47] Fryda: Yeah. Like in what way? In, in what way is it justified when you really think about it to police someone's expression and to police someone's sexuality, to police someone's expression in this way?

Another thing that I wanna

[00:25:00] Carmen: point out here is that during this time Havana was rampant with prostitution and gambling and stuff like that. Remember. This is the glamorous time of Havana, the party, the nightlife, the reputation that Cuba is famous for. And a lot of that prostitution actually included male prostitutes that later on the Cuban revolution used this as a point to further criminalize prostitution and being gay because it was associated on a moral ground with us imperialism, which immediately became the en enemy at a

[00:25:27] Fryda: big taboo.

Yeah. And to make that connection even clearer, these prostitutes, both. Women and men were serving the us military a lot of the times and were serving demand from the us military coming into bases and Naval bases in Cuba. And so all of the decadents as well as all of the ridiculousness of Havana were similarly associated with, with us imperialism

[00:25:54] Carmen: and then Castro comes around and says, um, okay, so you can't be gay and you also can't be Catholic.

So we're gonna try this again.

[00:26:02] Fryda: So this is the 1950s, 1960s, where we have this revolution in society and it's eventually considered a communist revolution, but really early on it's a revolution first considered a revolution for Cuban independence against. Us imperialism also considered a revolution of Cuban morals and of Cuban identity.

So, Hey, there's gonna be some talk of gender and sexuality here very early on VI Castro and his lackies made it clear how important it is to fit a particular role in society and how to be revolutionary is to not be gay is to not be queer is to not be trans and to not be anything outside of this typic like, and to not deviate.

At all outside of what is considered morally pure in the revolution. So I think that the key thing

[00:26:54] Carmen: here that you said is morally because that is the fundamental problem here that the Cuban government came in and then decided at a political level, what the morals of society were going to be and what everyone was going to adhere to further trying to perpetuate this sort of monoculture that only exists in a very specific.

[00:27:12] Fryda: Yeah. And they took really direct action to reconfigure Cuban society in 1962, when they set up work camps specifically for prostitutes, gay people, and anyone also who deviated from this typical revolutionary identity.

And these are called the, um, up caps. They, um, up. U M P stands for UN. So basically these are military units to help with production. And so the euphemism here is that these people who do not apparently belong in revolutionary society are going to be put to work so that they can contribute to revolutionary society.

So it's like, Hey guys, we wanna do you a favor. We wanna put you in a work camp. Since you don't fit into our society, we're gonna get you to work for it anyway, and this was like another inquisition, honestly, but it happened in the 1960s. This was Cha's idea. Cha was like a hairy masculine man who really loved this idea.

And let's make a note that we made an episode about cha and we talked about cha and how much he loved Stalinism. Okay. And how into the Soviet union he was. And it's, uh, important to know that these camps were modeled after Soviet camps and were modeled after Soviet ideas as well. And so here we go, seeing a, kind of an, another dominant force restate again, that deviating from gender and sexual norms is a danger.

See that. So you gotta be put. You gotta be put away. So about 250 people were confined during this time and they did eventually close. So they closed in 1968, but you don't just like. Have work camps and then forget about them that it marks, it says a lot about society. What, what your society is willing to comply with when you have this.

And as we continue talking about these ideas, That permeated in the Cuban revolution. We need to remember that they went so far as to have work camps for this group of people

[00:29:32] Carmen: and speaking of masculinity and the Cuban communist revolution and chit and all that. I just, I find the communist revolution to be so masculine.

Like if you really look at all of the elements that make up the Cuban revolution, it's. It's very, it's associated with this very green canvas, military uniform, marching, that type of like masculine militaristic kind of atmosphere with gorilla warfare and organizing and violence and firing squads and all of these things that we have already established as being super MACU.

Masculine. And I think that by just modeling that you already start to exemplify what you think that people not only should be like from a political level, but then also I think it's a really curious thing because going back to Marx's thought, which is the thought that is supposed to have been the basis of the communist revolution, that actually places a lot of emphasis on supporting the woman.

Which again, we can also talk about how that's problematic in a different light, but I just, I find that to be really interesting that the focus of the revolution was very masculine, but actually a big part of Marx's theory. Yeah. And thought is about supporting the woman in society. I'd

[00:30:36] Fryda: argue that even Marx in talking about supporting women was talking about supporting women in their sphere a lot of the time.

So saying that women need to be paid for their unpaid labor that they, that they do. While acting as women while acting as mothers. But question mark, what if you're a woman and you don't wanna act as a woman or act as a mother. So there still are quite confining roles, both in the gorilla mentality as well as in Marx's mentality.


[00:31:08] Carmen: And on this note, actually in 1975 in Cub brothers, an entire family code that came out and it specifically outlined the roles of men and women in society. Further solidified heterosexuality as the pillar that was going to perpetuate family was gonna produce children that then you were expected to give to the revolution.

And so this whole idea, this whole thing, this whole game plan, which is, I love that, which is larger than we need to get into right now. But anyway, my point is that I did not say anywhere that lesbians were a thing, because guess what? If you're a lesbian and you don't wanna be married to a man. You don't wanna have children, even if you're not a lesbian and you just don't wanna have children, then you don't fit into this family code.

So like what, in what part of society can you actually participate in this further marginalization of people and making them invisible is still happening as late as 1975. And it's, it's not only happening in society as a cultural level, but it's also written in black and white

[00:31:53] Fryda: it's yeah, there's an, there's an instruction manual that tells us without question what the priorities were.

And I do wanna say this ISN. Entirely unique to Cuban revolutionary ethics. I wanna say that this still sounds pretty similar to EV our American notions of family values and our American notions of the, of the nuclear family unit and that being an important unit as part of society while it's not entirely unique, it is still really remarkable to see.

Even a document like that in 1975. Yeah.

[00:32:29] Carmen: And so another thing that happened in 1975 on the other side of the coin was that there was a new sheriff in town at the ministry of culture at Mando art was the new minister of culture appointed and he wasn't necessarily. An ally or gay or anything, but, you know, he was just simply more open-minded and more tolerant.

And this really makes

[00:32:48] Fryda: a big difference. It makes a huge difference in a society where just a few people rule over and decide what happens and what doesn't happen. Shortly afterwards, there was decriminalization of private and consensual same sex relationships in 1979, but a caveat here. Laws being passed in Cuba, do not necessarily mean that it trickles down into society or that these things are being regularly enforced.

One year later in 1980 with the Maria boat lift a bunch of people who were homosexual were sent to the United States because they were deemed to be undesirable to the revolution. And so in the 1980s, clearly it was still a problem. To be homosexual. I think you can really

[00:33:35] Carmen: start to see one of the worst parts of being homosexual in Cuba, in the eighties with the subject of HIV.

Um, obviously in the eighties, HIV was an epidemic. It was mostly associated at the time with the gay community. And so what the Cuban government used to do is round up everybody that they suspected, for whatever reason, they forced HIV tests onto them. And then they would publish their. Can you imagine?

Yeah. So like, not only are they forcing you to take HIV tests just on suspicion that you might be gay or like participating in sexual activities with the same gender, but then they also posted up for everybody to see. So like, even if your results are negative, right, like it's still really shitty cuz now people.

Because now, you know, that people think this about

[00:34:15] Fryda: you. Yeah. So , that's quite the reckoning in society. And again, this like regime's response tells you a lot about what the what's acceptable and what isn't acceptable in the society. And if we move to 1992, we get Fe Choco LAE, which like made waves rippled through.

Cuban culture. Yeah, I see. Chola is one of my favorite movies. It's a great movie. It's a film that reflects on a lot of what we've been talking about and. Positions it in a conversation between two men of different identities.

[00:34:55] Carmen: Cho is the story of these two men who meet one of them is gay and he represents everything that is basically us imperialism.

And the other man who is not gay is what, um, boy revolution would be. And they form this unlikely friendship and the entire movie winds up being this long meandering conversation between the two where they exchange ideas. And at the time. For that movie to come out, it was really, really significant. And it just goes to show you that it really matters was in power.

It came out in Cuba, made by Cubans written by Cubans for Cuba. And one of the things that I liked about this movie the most is that it was just so cleverly written. So that depending on who you were, you take something completely different from it. So I can see how in the Cuban government it was justified because it's, it's just so nuanced in that way.

[00:35:36] Fryda: On the one hand, if you're. If you're trying to see this movie as, as promoting revolutionary values, you could watch it and think, okay, the revolutionary has everything that they need and this gay man is lost and doesn't have a sense of the revolution. But if you are on the other side of things, you could see it as a, as a challenge to all of the liberties that are missing from, from the revolution and how strict it is to live as the revolutionary man

[00:36:06] Carmen: does.

Yeah. So the revolutionary one goes to visit the gay one. And when I say that he's acquainted with us imperialism it's because he has contraband items. So like for example, Frank Sinatra records. So like being gay is being associated with the enemy, which is us imperialism, which winds up being Frank

[00:36:20] Fryda: Sinatra.

And there you go, deviating sexually you're deviating, intellectually you're deviating in terms of what you consume. It's just like a very, very deviant a person it as portrayed here. And yet he's entirely humanized. And represented very well. And so that's what makes us a great work of art.

[00:36:43] Carmen: yeah, go watch it.

Also in 1992, Castro comes out being like, oh, I never did nothing wrong to gay people. I don't know what you're talking about.

[00:36:50] Fryda: Clearly it wasn't as popular anymore to hate gay people as a popular leader. One, it was like, I never did anything he did. Except he did. Except he did. Except that he did. He said that what's never been about.

Gay people it's just been misogyny and Cuban society. And I was like, that would be a cool thing to say, if you didn't have a, a history of doing what you did, right. It's a little too late for that, but it goes, it just goes to show what's cool now. And maybe PSE Cho, there was a part of it. Part of showing what, what was acceptable in society in 1992.

So. We're going to move into a little bit more like present society. And after Fidel Fidel died but is, is the whole legacy of the revolution and the revolution, all that remains in Cuban society. We have Cubans and Cuba and we have the Cuban diaspora. But a few things have happened like in 2010 in Cuba, a trans woman married a gay man in 2012, the first Cuban trans person was elected to office.

But it's important to note that back in the 1980s, the same person was jailed for dangerousness. Or dity as we talked about, uh, in one of our episodes , but now they're holding office.

[00:38:02] Carmen: And in 2014, there was a short documentary video that came out in the New York times that followed in chronicled Gomez, who is a trans woman living in Cuba and was getting same sex surgery sponsored by the Cuban government.

And this made a giant wave because it was seen as the pinnacle. Cuban progressive

[00:38:20] Fryda: is good. Progressive press. So,

[00:38:21] Carmen: first of all, I wanna tell you a little bit about the story. You should still go watch it. We will leave the link in the show notes, but I now as a woman of trans experience in Cuba who got same sex surgery and her documentary, she describes all of the things that she wasn't able to do in her life before she got her surgery and effectively, yeah, this woman couldn't really participate in

[00:38:38] Fryda: society.

She was laid off of all of her jobs. She couldn't really participate in society. And this was because she was a trans woman. But who couldn't pass as a woman at that time. So she talks in the story, how getting this surgery, and also importantly, getting her ID sex changed to female, made all the difference for her in society.

Like she was able to get a job now she was able to pass, but. It's really unfortunate because like, you would've wanted Anna to be able to live as she did before getting her sex change surgery and not have lost all ability to exist in society.

[00:39:21] Carmen: It just further perpetuates heteronormative standards in society.

It's like the only people who get to enjoy. The privilege or the opportunity to have a job and participate in society and get married and have children and go to places and be seen and accepted as a normal human being. Are the people who subscribe to the family code of 1975, essentially. Yeah.

[00:39:39] Fryda: It's notable that, that she married a man and is therefore in a heterosexual couple.

And so. In that sense, she fits into this structure. She's still not allowed to adopt with her husband. So it does tell you that not everything was erased. Like she still cannot fully participate even in the Cuban family value

[00:40:02] Carmen: structure. I think in some ways it's really easy from the outside to look at that story.

And without the context think like, wow, like the Cuban government is just so progressive. They're like paying for people to have their sex changes and then allowing this to happen. But I think Frida, I think that's one of the things that really irks. When people look at things like this and they think like, wow, that's such a good example of, you know, we should all be following acceptance and love and every, but there's always just so much more context.

Like it's not easy and you shouldn't get it twisted that way. It's still really hard to be queer in Cuba. This is

[00:40:29] Fryda: absolutely true. We have. Queer people of color in modern day, Cuba protesting their reality and being jailed and being suppressed. And we have a long, long history of queer people and queer people of color leaving Cuba and being granted asylum for the damages caused to them by existing as they are in Cuba.

So. Cuba is still let's remind everyone. Cuba is still an authoritarian dictatorship police state. Cracks down on deviation on that note, like while we start talking about like the protest movements of modern day, it's, it is important to note that the people at the forefront of these protests of that we've been talking about in movie Minto San in our 11 J episode, these are two episodes.

You should absolutely check out people at the forefront of them. Often queer people of color, black people Lu Manuel. We love Lu Manuel. We love, we love, we love him. I love him. Luis Manuel and Luis, Manuel began protesting by wearing a dress and standing out flamboyantly and getting called out for it. And so one of the beginning protests of this movement.

Where was a protest of gender expression and artistry, you know,

[00:41:55] Carmen: going back to the beginning of this episode, we were talking about what it means to be queer. And I. This is the ultimate layered expression of what that could be because this person is not only protesting the government's handling of art and artists, but also just like expression in society and gender identity and physical expression all at once.

And I think that's what makes, I think that's what makes them a good performance artist, but also that's what makes them great activists

[00:42:19] Fryda: here. It's not unknown to history that a queer. Person a trans person would be at the center of social revolution and upheaval. It happens all the time. Like pride actually.

Came about to celebrate Stonewall, which is a protest that happened with queer trans people of color to start protesting all of these things in American society. And so it's really not unlike people who have been marginalized in various ways, whether due to their gender expression, due to their sexual identity or due to their race or all of the above to.

Starting up a fight and just starting up social, start up social progress. We're celebrating, not just the bad asses, not just the people who put themselves at the forefront, but also people like Anna who are just trying to live their lives, but everyone deserves to be able to live their lives.

[00:43:09] Carmen: earlier in this episode, we asked the question, like, how did we get here?

Why we have things like pride month? And I'm happy that we are able to have these conversations on our podcast

[00:43:19] Fryda: for you, our listener. This could be a topic that is very close to home. It also might not be, but wherever you are, we thank you for being here with us and for engaging in this conversation with us, this is one of many that we're going to have, and we're always here for

[00:43:35] Carmen: you.

So our Guan of the episode is, and

[00:43:41] Fryda: this is the born this way of Guan. Because. No matter where the Al is, that is its nature. That is its nature. So the translation is the deer will always go to the forest or will always go to the mountains because no matter where the deer is, it needs to point to the mountains.

So it's on the right track,

[00:44:03] Carmen: baby. The deer was born. So happy pride, everyone. Thanks so much for listening. A big shout out to one of our close friends who started off as a pod listener and is a patron. Thank you so much to vial for sitting down with us and chatting with us. And when we were thinking about this episode and what kind of topics we wanted to talk about, what kind of angles wanted to get into, it was immensely helpful to have this very Ambi in conversations with you.

And I felt really ignited after that. So thank

[00:44:29] Fryda: you so much. So tune in, I mean, this is our. Episode of the season. We're gonna keep producing episodes every other week on Wednesday. Take it easy.

[00:44:38] Carmen: And with that also a big shout and think thank you to our patrons. Thank you so much for supporting us. Thank you to Andy Lauren.

GI Villa, Christine, Susan CEL, Lauren, Kristin, Sarah and Lauren. Kay I'm Kristin Sarah garden, Yvette, Josh, Jason, and Jessie. We would not be anywhere without you. We'd love you to death and thank you for tuning in. If you wanna get in touch with us. We.

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