Letter from Cuban Gay People to the North American Gay Liberation Movement

LETTER FROM CUBAN GAY PEOPLE TO THE NORTH AMERICAN GAY LIBERATION MOVEMENT

(1970)

Sisters and Brothers:

By chance, we got a copy of your publication with the statement of Third World Gay Revolution (Gay Flames pamphlet No.7).

We believe it is our duty to inform you of our situation as homosexuals in Cuba, as people who experience discrimination in a country which presumably is involved in a revolution and is committed to the creation of the “new man”. This revolution is struggling against the traditional injustices that all Cubans have suffered as a result of economic exploitation and a class society. The vestiges of this class society still bring us suffering. We wish to inform you, however, of a series of events which fundamentally deny the postulates of the social and political movement in Cuba. In fact, our country is in a state of increasingly greater crisis, quite in contradiction with the success stories told abroad.

If in a consumption society, run by capitalist and oligarchs, like the one you are living in, homosexuals experience suffering and limitations, in our society, labeled Marxist and revolutionary, it is worse. Since its beginning –first in veiled ways, later without scruples or rationalizations- the Cuban revolutionary government has persecuted homosexuals. The methods range from the most common sort of physical attack to attempts to impose psychic and moral disintegration upon gay people. In theory, at least, the Cuban revolution holds that homosexuality is not compatible with the development of a society whose goal is communism.

Here, the homosexual is attacked in such a way that he or she becomes the victim of a series of formulas to make invisible what the authorities judge to be an aberration, a repudiable fault. One formula is for homosexuals to marry and pretend to live a “normal” life. Another has been the confinement of homosexuals on farms where they are brutally treated. This happened with the concentration camps of the UMAP, which, for the uninformed, were simply “military units to increase production”, a place where people did farm work and youths received military training, the sort of thing that might take place in any civilized country. This situation provoked an international scandal, and subsequently the UMAP camps were eliminated as a branch of obligatory military service –but there still are prison farms exclusively for homosexuals.

On the street we suffer persecution, aggression, and a constant abuse of authority. We are asked to produce I.D. cards. We are arrested for wearing certain clothes or using certain hair styles, or for simple get-togethers. This is a violation of freedoms guaranteed by the Declaration of Human Rights, freedoms which, contradictorily, are more respected in societies that are called fascist than in ours –though Cuban society has been seen as a model for the solution of the problems of individual and collective freedom.

Methods of psychological repression, social isolation, control by districts, neighborhoods, work places and schools, always with the aim of negating us, are commonly used by this regime. It can be said that there are many homosexuals, some of them intellectuals, some not, who live apart from this situation. In the first place, they are very few in number. To the extent that such persons exist, they know that they cannot cross the limits of behavior that have been outlined for them, and that in the case of opposition, there is only the risk of exile or the response of a dictatorial system which can lead to the worst consequences.

It is not possible to advocate freedom, respect and justice for homosexuals throughout the world without taking into consideration the situation of thousands of individuals in our country. There must also be protests for the treatment they are given, and the search for an effective solution, not a theoretical one, to such problems.

We hope in future communications to give plenty of details and to shed light on many situations which you do not know about in this uncertain and chaotic pseudo-socialist system.

[Note: to protect ourselves, we have given a false return address.]

Source: Out of the Closets: Voices of the Gay Liberation, by Karla Jay and Allen Young, New York: Douglas Book Corp., 1972, pp.244-246.

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