Back in June we told you about a television soap opera in Cuba called "The Hidden Side of the Moon" which is said to have been the first time that Cuban television addressed the issue of homosexuality in such a candid and moving way (the serialized drama, which was originally produced as one of several stories that would address HIV prevention, told the story of a married man who loved his wife but found himself falling in love with another man and torn about what to do).
Sometimes it's hard to gauge the extent of progress of LGBT rights in Cuba from the outside, particularly because any discussion that involve Cuban matters in the United States easily become polarized. On the left I've heard some praise Cuba's HIV treatment services, highlight a new openness on LGBT issues after years of persecution (which are sometimes too easily dismissed by the left) and claim that Cuba would be perfect if only for the US embargo. On the right I've heard of gays still being arrested, raids at gay bars, ongoing limits to personal freedoms including expression of one's sexual identity, etc.
Signs of change for the better:
On July 3rd Reuters ran this article on Mariela Castro (pictured), the Director of Cuba's National Center for Sex Education, who talks about doing work behind the scenes to make sure that "The Other Side of the Moon" aired on Cuban television. Castro, Fidel's niece, also talks about a new bill that might become law in December that "would give transsexuals free sex change operations and hormonal therapy in addition to granting them new identification documents with their changed gender."
And now this:
Today, Juventud Rebelde, a Havana-based web-portal that disseminates the Communist word to Cuba's youth and their allies, reports that anal sex is "habitual behavior [between gay men] but not exclusive to them, just like kissing, hugging, or touching the rest of their bodies."
The article says that men have an anal g-spot (or "p-spot, as it's known to be related to the prostate," they say) and sings the merit of massaging those particular erogenous zones, advising women to give it a try with their boyfriends.
Try Babelfish if you want to translate the piece for additional valuable information.
BLABBEANDO, NOW WITH INSTA-UPDATE (Ugh! more translation work):
Not seconds after I published the above we find this:
Writing about the opening day of the International Conference on LGBT Human Rights which began yesterday in Montreal (parallel to the 1st Ever World OUTGames), Alejandro Brito reports for Mexico's La Jornada newspaper that the Cuban Communist Party has allegedly officially recognized that it made an error in persecuting the LGBT community back in the 1960's and denounced decisions that kept gays from reaching important leadership positions in Cuba's Communist Party as well as in the Cuban government.
Those statements were made in Montreal by the leader of the Cuban delegation to the conference, Mariela Castro (mentioned earlier), at one of the meetings, though she also said that it was never meant to be a public statement, "just an internal matter."
Brito reports that Castro said that "there is no repression against gays in Cuba, what exists is a socio-cultural reaction similar to that of other countries."
NOTE: Activist (and blogger) Michael Petrelis also writes about Mariela Castro and recent developments in Cuba regarding LGBT rights here.
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