Friday, February 24, 2012

Ecuador's Health Minister: 'Ex-Gay' clinics are "shocking evidence of the prejudices we hold as a society"

In January I wrote about lesbian rights advocate Carina Vance being named to the Rafael Correa's presidential cabinet in Ecuador as the country's Health Minister.

The stunning news coincided with news that the government was finally taking action in shutting down clinics that were promoting treatments to "cure" homosexuality.  Efforts to raise awareness about these clinics were led by Fundación Causana, which Vance used to lead, and were the basis of online campaigns from and

Both organizations celebrated victory based upon the news and members of Fundación Causana sent a photo thanking and their followers for making a difference.

The news quickly traveled around the world with the Associated Press and CNN running initial reports. But it was weeks later that The Christian Science Monitor published the most comprehensive report on Vance's appointment and the existence of these clinics ("Ecuador clinics said to 'cure' homosexuality stir debate", Feb. 10, 2012).

The article revealed that not everything had been settled between LGBT-rights advocates and the government. Advocates still claim the government is willfully hiding information about the clinics and has demanded more action while the government argues that they are still in the process of gathering information and will eventually take action.  Advocates also say that of 226 clinics, only 23 were shut down and they allege that most of them have reopened.  From the article:
The government last year publicized the closing of 30 centers, though gay rights groups say it was only 23. The clinics were all shut down because of minor infractions, such as expired medicines, lack of fire exits, and lack of hygiene. Some did not even have a valid license. Most opened up again after a few days.

Gay rights organizations say the government is not doing enough to investigate crimes and close illegal operators for good. However, Carina Vance, a prominent gay rights activist who was appointed Ecuador's minister of public health last month, says the government is committed to a long-term strategy to change the clinics.

“It is a complex and urgent issue that needs a comprehensive intervention,” says Ms. Vance.
When Vance was appointed to the Health Ministry in January, she was taking over an office that seemed to be in disarray and was charged with restructuring the country's health system to make it more effective.  By all accounts, she has hit the ground running and has had little time to sleep.

Although local media have barely covered the situation with the clinics, Ms. Vance has made several statements to international media on the issue and has promised to address the situation.  And last week, on February 17th, the Health Ministry released a 10-minute video in which she addresses the issue head on.  It's short on specifics but indicates there is commitment.

Below is the full clip (turn 'annotations' on to read my on-screen translation). Full English language transcript below the fold.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012 names Blabbeando as a "2012 Best Gay Blog" Nominee!

The good people at have just announced the nominees for their "2012 Gay Life Readers' Choice Awards" and I am delighted to say that Blabbeando is up for the "Best Gay Blog" award (vote here).

Blabbeando is up against some of the best blogs out there including Rod2.0, JoeMyGod, Towleroad and Kenneth in the (212) and I feel honored to be in such company.

There are also a number of other categories including "Best Gay News Site" and "Favorite LGBT Celebrity".

For a full listing of categories, click here.

It's the first time that's Gay Life is running the Reader's Choice Awards.  We thank Ramon Johnson and the readers of for the consideration.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chile: "We are all women, we are all different, we are all equal, we are all transsexual"

I have already introduced you to some great transgender rights spots that have been produced recently in Argentina.

Now comes this brand new ad produced by the Transsexual Organization for the Dignity of Diversity and funded by the Chilean government with the theme of equality for transgender women.

Very much like this groundbreaking ad, I love the fact that, image-wise, the vibe is a positive one and not a gloomy one. The one reservation I have about it is that while one of the persons in the ad says that she does not want to be treated as if she has an illness, another woman calls being transgender a "condition".  It probably stems from transgender women being told all their lives that their identity is a condition, specially in countries where you have to get diagnosed as such before being allowed gender-reassignment surgery.

Here is the full ad. Turn 'annotations' on for my on-screen translation:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cuba promotes first gay-themed movie in seventeen years

It has been more than seventeen years since "Fresa y Chocolate", a film by Tomás Gutierréz Alea and Juan Carlos Tabío, received an official launch from he Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Arts before going on to worldwide acclaim.

It is the only gay-themed movie to have received that distinction... until now.

Described as a psychological thriller, Enrique Pineda Barnet's "Verde Verde" ("Green Green") premiered at the Havana Film Festival in December and opened to the general public yesterday at a couple of theaters in Havana.

The movie tells the story of a bisexual merchant marine doctor who engages in a game of seduction with a man who is deeply conflicted about his attraction to men.

Tipping his hat to Rainer Werner Fassbder's "Querelle" both visually and thematically, Pineda Barnet says his new film is meant to be a strong condemnation of the homophobia that still exists in Cuban culture and an open challenge to the rigid concept of masculinity and the violence it sometimes engenders when challenged.

"It's not a festive movie, it was made with love, with true love," the director said to AFP, "it is an attack against homophobia, which is an attack against love."

The film already drew some controversy in Cuba for an early version of the movie poster which showed a bloody knife with a handle in the shape of a penis.  It's been since replaced by a different promotional poster.

Also worth noting, the film premiere is being hosted by the "Different" Film Club which gathers a number of Cuban LGBT-rights advocates under the umbrella of the National Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX).

The Center is led by Mariela Castro Espín, daughter of Cuban president Raúl Castro, and a leading LGBT-rights advocate.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Ricky Martin's 'Ché' is is not the 'Ché' you think it is

Speaking of Ricky Martin: Broadway previews of the new "Evita" begin on March 12th and Martin has been busy preparing for his role as 'Ché'.

Back in November a Cuban exile group in Florida organized a protest against Martin calling him to task for glorifying the life of iconic Communist revolutionary leader Ché Guevara ("Cuban exile group stages hilarious protest against Ricky Martin").

At the time I pointed out that the original concept of the Ché character in "Evita" was not based on Guevara and now we have confirmation.

An excerpt from a Playbill article posted on February 10th:
The narrating role of 'Ché' is reverted to the way it was written for the original concept album – as an 'everyman' of the lower/working class, serving as the voice of the people; not Che Guevara. Using Che Guevara as inspiration for the role was a choice made by Hal Prince when staging the original production.
Sorry angry Cuban American right wing extremists from Florida. You lose again.


Guest Post: Glee's awkward treatment of Latino stereotypes

This article originally appeared on Univision News' Tumblr page and has been cross-posted at Blabbeando with permission. You can follow Univision News on Twitter at @UnivisionNews.

Opinion: Ricky Martin overshadowed on ‘Glee’ by episode’s awkward treatment of Latino stereotypes

By Miguel Tamayo

That was weird. Very weird.

I don’t really think of myself as an easily-offended person, nor am I particularly sensitive to Hollywood’s tendency to stereotype or over-generalize, but as I sat in front of my TV watching the latest episode of Glee, I couldn’t help but wonder what the hell the writers were doing. Was I supposed to be angry, proud, embarrassed, grateful — all of the above? By the end of the episode, the only emotion I felt was pure, unadulterated confusion.

The premise was sound: A non-Spanish-speaking Spanish teacher (I said sound, not perfect) who is ignorant to all things Latino and relies on caricature-like representations of the culture to teach his students, is shown the error of his ways by his one Latina student (Naya Rivera’s Santana) and a new-in-town Chilean-American former tooth model (ok, “sound” is not the right word, but this is Glee we’re talking about). Yet, in what was its first true foray into the world of Latin music and culture (Santana’s homophobic abuelita made a brief appearance earlier in the season) the hit show was a bit off the mark.

The episode opens with Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison) delivering a sombrero-ridden rendition of “La Cucaracha” to his class, followed by a voiceover in which the unilingual Spanish-teacher laments the fact that his students are no longer excited by his “Taco Tuesday” performance of the famous Mexican folk song, and asks: “How could I have become so out of touch?” The audience then learns that one of McKinley High’s professors has retired, freeing up a tenured position. Schuester realizes that he needs to learn more Spanish in order to prove that he deserves the coveted position, setting up his introduction to Ricky Martin’s character, David Martinez, the aforementioned tooth model. Martinez teaches Spanish night classes but has a hidden talent (spoiler alert): he can sing and dance. The rest of the episode treats viewers to various Spanish-language songs — some, authentic Latin numbers and others, translated versions of English-language songs — performed by the Glee Club.  And while the show’s creators undoubtedly intended to deliver a positive message, the packaging in which it came clumsily toed the line between satirical social commentary and questionable thoughtlessness.

On the one hand, you had Sra. Stephanie, the middle-aged woman in Martinez’s class, explaining that the reason she was taking the course was to learn how to say “‘Stop using my toilet’ to my maid” (a goal that we later learn was reached when Stephanie wins the award for “Best Conjugator” and informs Martinez that, thanks to him, “Claudia knows now to go before she comes to work.”), and on the other, Martinez discussing the importance of learning Spanish: “Did you know that the U.S. Census believes that by 2030 the majority of Americans will use Spanish as their first language? You’re not here to learn a language, you’re here because you’re smart and you’re forward thinkers.”

Normally, such juxtaposition is easily detectable and viewers can quickly pick up on the lesson being taught, but the problem with Tuesday night’s episode was that — due in large part to Glee’s patented ironic irreverence and reverse-offensiveness — the message was consistently muddled. It was unclear if Martinez’s refusal to comment on Sra. Stephanie’s condescension was because it was so in-your-face or because … I don’t know what. Same goes for the male Glee members’ decision to perform their mash-up of the Gipsy King’s “Bamboleo” and Enrique Iglesias’ “Hero” in bolo ties and botas picudas — fashion items that have essentially nothing to do with the artists being covered.

This is not to say that the writers made no attempt at conveying a direct idea. They did.

After Schuester took the stage in full torero regalia — along with two students that ran back and forth across the stage dressed as bulls — and danced and sang his way through a half-English, half-Spanish version of Elvis’ “A Little Less Conversation,” Santana delivered a passionate missive.
This is my education and it’s not a joke to me, although it seems to be one to you … [The students] don’t know any better and it’s your fault, you’re their teacher. You went from “La Cucaracha” to a bull-fighting mariachi. Why don’t you just dress up as the Taco Bell chihuahua and bark the theme song to Dora the Explorer? You don’t even know enough to be embarrassed about these stereotypes that you’re perpetuating.
Santana spoke the words on many viewers’ lips (a friend of mine texted during the Elvis cover asking: “Is blackface coming next?”), elucidating how even the most innocuous ignorance can be harmful. It was a moment of clarity in an otherwise bewildering episode.

Yet, that was all it was, a moment. The episode swiftly melted back into a puzzling sea of misused duende references and one forced “American dream” anecdote. Though it definitely fell short of being offensive, the entire viewing experience was uncomfortable and, at the very least, strange.

It’s unfortunate that the episode was so perplexing and distracting, as the musical portion was generally quite good. Martin performed admirably in his first acting gig since his soap opera heyday, and he and Rivera’s sleek and sexy rendition of Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita” was definitely the highlight of the night.

In one of the episode’s final scenes, Shuester offers Martinez his position as Spanish teacher, setting the stage for a few more guest appearances by Martin. And with Gloria Estefan set to join the cast later this season (she’ll play Santana’s mother), the Glee faithful are guaranteed a few more Latino-infused episodes. I just hope that the next time around, I am left bobbing my head to the music instead of scratching it in confusion.
Miguel Tamayo is the Chief Writer at Univision News. A member of the Florida Bar Association, his writing focuses mainly on sports, pop culture, and law. You can follow Miguel on Twitter at @miggytamayo.