According to Ian Lumsden, traditional Spanish machismo and the Catholic Church have disdained effeminate and sexually passive males for centuries. The homophobia exposed during the revolution was a mere continuation of the well-established culture of machismo and the rigid gender roles of pre-revolutionary Cuba.
She also claimed that the way that the Cuban revolution came to power gave it a stronger sense of masculinity than other revolutions. The guerrilla experience pervaded the political structure and the guerrilla army itself became the nucleus of a new society. Cuban gay writer Reinaldo Arenas wrote, "[T]he decade of the sixties Camps of forced labour were instituted with all speed to "correct" such deviations Verbal and physical mistreatment, shaved heads, work from dawn to dusk, hammocks, dirt floors, scarce food The camps became increasingly crowded as the methods of arrest became more expedient In , the country-wide Military Units to Aid Production UMAP program was set up as an alternative form of military service for members of pacifist religious groups, such as Jehovah's Witnesses , hippies , conscientious objectors , and gay men.
It was believed that the work, together with the strict regimes operating within the UMAP camps, would "rehabilitate" the participants. The camps became notorious both inside and outside Cuba. A homosexual man who worked in a UMAP camp described the conditions there as follows, "[W]ork is hard because it's nearly always in the sun. We work 11 hours a day cutting marble in a quarry from seven in the morning to seven at night, with one hour's lunch break.
He was followed by boys from the Young Communist League whose identity was also kept secret. In , shortly after these visits, the camps closed. However, after a visit I discovered the distortion in some places, of the original idea, because you can't deny that there were prejudices against homosexuals. I personally started a review of this matter.
Those units only lasted three years. Many gay artists and intellectuals like Reinaldo Arenas were attracted to the socialist promise of an egalitarian society, which would pave the way for cultural and sexual freedom and social justice. Its radical ideas seemed to enjoy the favor of the Cuban Government. But a couple of years after Castro's rise to power, this journal was closed down amidst a wave of media censorship. Its gay writers were publicly disgraced, refused publication, and dismissed from their jobs.
Some were reassigned to work as janitors and labourers. This period was dramatically documented in the s documentary Improper Conduct , Reinaldo Arenas in his autobiography, Before Night Falls , as well as in his fiction, most notably The Color of Summer and Farewell to the Sea. Homophobia in Cuba persisted in the s, with more tolerant attitudes beginning to appear in the mids. Although the UMAP program ended in , the camps themselves continued. They became military units, and the same types of men were sent there as were sent to the UMAP camps.
The only difference was that the men were paid a pitiful salary for their long and harsh working hours while living under very difficult and inhumane conditions. In his autobiography, My Life , Fidel Castro claims the internment camps were used in lieu of the mistreatment homosexuals were receiving in the military during the Cuban intervention in Angola and other conflicts.
They would do laborious tasks and be housed roughly, but some saw it as better than joining the Cuban military because there, they would often be publicly humiliated and discharged by homophobic elements.
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After a discussion of homosexuality at the Cuban Educational and Cultural Congress in April , homosexuality was declared to be a deviation incompatible with the revolution. Homosexuality was considered sufficient grounds for discriminatory measures to be adopted against the gay community, and homophobia was institutionalised. Gay and lesbian artists, teachers, and actors lost their jobs. Gays and lesbians were expelled from the Communist Party. Students were expelled from university.
Gays were prohibited from having contact with children and young people. Gays were not allowed to represent their country. Effeminate boys were forced to undergo aversion therapy.
In , the People's Supreme Court found in favour of a group of marginalised gay artists who were claiming compensation and reinstatement in their place of work. The court's ruling was the initial change in official attitudes towards gays and lesbians. In addition, a commission was established to investigate homosexuality, leading to the decriminalization of private, adult, non-commercial and consensual same-sex relationships in Cuban gays were expelled or took the opportunity to leave Cuba during the Mariel boatlift.
From the early stages of the massive exodus, the Government described homosexuals as part of the "scum" that needed to be discarded so the socialist society could be purified. In , the Ministry of Culture stated in a publication entitled "In Defence of Love" that homosexuality was a variant of human sexuality.
The ministry argued that homophobic bigotry was an unacceptable attitude inherited by the revolution and that all sanctions against gays should be opposed. In , the National Commission on Sex Education publicly opined that homosexuality was a sexual orientation and that homophobia should be countered by education. In a interview with Galician television, Castro criticised the rigid attitudes that had prevailed towards homosexuality. The same year, a series of sex education workshops were run throughout the country carrying the message that homophobia was a prejudice. Since , lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons may serve openly in the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces.
However, discrimination is still common in the Cuban military so LGBT people serving tend to hide their sexual orientation. The film criticised the country's narrow, doctrinaire ways of thinking in the s and discussed anti-gay prejudice and the unjust treatment suffered by gays. The film provoked a great deal of comment and discussion among the public. In , Cuban drag queens led the annual May Day procession, joined by two gay delegations from the United States.
According to a Human Rights Watch report, "the government [in ] The foreigners who were detained were released after a check of their documents. Many of the Cuban gay and lesbian clientele were reportedly beaten by police. After this crackdown, Cuban gays and lesbians began keeping a lower profile amid intermittent sweeps of gay and lesbian meeting places.
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Yet, in , the police operated a campaign against homosexuals and transvestites, and prevented them from meeting in the street, fined them and closed down meeting places. While there, he asked about the status of lesbians and gays in the country and asked the Cuban Government why it had abstained from the vote on the " Brazilian Resolution ", a proposal to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights that would symbolically recognise the "occurrence of violations of human rights in the world against persons on the grounds of their sexual orientation.
The Government said that the formation of the organization would distract attention from national security in light of constant threats from the United States. In , the state-run Cuban television began running a serial soap opera titled La Otra Cara De La Luna The Other Face of the Moon in which a married man "discovers himself" through a sexual relationship with a male friend.
In , Adela Hernandez became the first known transgender person to hold public office in Cuba, winning election as a delegate to the City Council of Caibarien in the central province of Villa Clara. In his autobiography My Life , Fidel Castro criticized the machismo culture of Cuba and urged for the acceptance of homosexuality. He made several speeches to the public regarding discrimination against homosexuals. In a interview with Mexican newspaper La Jornada , Castro called the persecution of homosexuals while he was in power "a great injustice, great injustice!
We had so many and such terrible problems, problems of life or death. In those moments, I was not able to deal with that matter [of homosexuals]. I found myself immersed, principally, in the Crisis of October , in the war, in policy questions. Private, non-commercial sexual relations between same-sex consenting adults 16 and over have been legal in Cuba since The Cuban Constitution does not ban same-sex marriage.
Until , Article 36 contained language defining marriage as between a man and a woman. This was repealed in a February referendum. It is based on free will and equality of rights, obligations and legal capacity of the spouses. A major public campaign by LGBT groups began in late to amend the Constitution to allow same-sex marriage. Media outlets have spoken of a "revolution within a revolution" or of a "rainbow revolution", and have pointed out how quickly the landscape for LGBT rights has changed, as just a few decades back Cuba imprisoned gay men in labor camps.
On 18 December , it was announced that the National Assembly had removed the language from the draft. The National Assembly and Mariela Castro have stated that same-sex marriage will be legalised through a Family Code amendment instead. In March , the Government began popular consultations to look into legalizing same-sex marriage in the Family Code. What do you think, gentle reader? One of my friends, who shall remain anonymous, used to be in his salad days identified as being the foulest-mouthed among his newsroom colleagues. About ten years ago, hired to work as a press officer and spokesman for news in Portuguese, he gave a demonstration of his abilities when, fed up with the "senseless obstruction" of a Navy officer promoted to Cerberus of an international conference, gave him a dirty piece of his mind in a shouting match.
His point was that he could prove the legitimacy of his presence with an official letter of the organization, and his passport. These were the elements on which his formal I. The loud exchange caused everybody present to giggle, including female policewomen in uniform, who were not supposed to concur with such low-level attack on authority.
Among the idlers present was a local reporter searching for something to write about on the eve of the economic meeting. So he wrote the story and called the perpetrator "El Viejito de la Puteada" the little cussing old man.
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Seemingly, the story was widely read, making our thus identified friend famous for one day or two. He discovered that when he went to make an international call at the Phone Center. Instead of a long wait-there were scores of would-be callers for half a dozen booths-the little old man was ushered into the first vacant cabin. Then, when he took a cab to go to his hotel, the fun-loving driver, engaged him in conversation and having talked at length with his fare, gave him a free ride: "Here, today, your fare is on me. Taking a young, attractive secretary to dinner in the ancient, de luxe, 5-star rated restaurant in the Old Town, and facing a half-hour wait, the viejito pulled his ace: "No table?
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Not even for the Viejito de la Puteada? The last, but not least blessing was to discover, three days later, that his charm still held. Told that there was very little chance for getting onto a much-sought-for flight, he went to the airline manager and said the buzzword. He was rewarded with a bear hug from the man, and in exchange for his autograph, a window seat in the desired aircraft.
Some of his terms are included in the following mini-glossary of vulgar and unconventional Brazilian words and expressions. Bagos, m. See previous entry. Also used in the expression "pra caramba!