Some VIP Cubans were all about Robert Mapplethorpe last night, when Parliament Speaker Ricardo Alarcon hosted a private showing of the late Mapplethorpe’s contentious works. This exhibit definitely ain’t something you’d see fifteen years ago, when Cuba first legalized same-sex sex.
In one on of Mapplethorpe’s most iconic – and most controversial – images, a man inserts his finger into his urethra. Not surprisingly, Mapplethorpe’s sensual focus found many a conservative combatant. One of the most prominent examples can be found in Cincinnati, The city tried – and acquitted – the Contemporary Arts Centre and its director, Dennis Barrie for obscenity after they displayed Mapplethorpe’s The Perfect Moment. How the times have changed.
Cuba – once a bastion of official homophobia – continues to evolve on social issues, however slowly. The government continues to debate including gays under the 1970s-era Family Code, nor do gays have the right to assembly.
(Note: A Bit “NSFW” after the jump.)
Interim president Raul Castro’s daughter, Mariela Castro EspÃn, recently lent her voice to the Family Code movement: Via Catholic News Agency (and reader Walter):
Castro, who is the daughter of interim president Raul Castro, said, “We think we should come to an agreement that there be an article in the Family Code on gender identity and sexual orientation for the right to free sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Castro said the plan must first be approved by the Communist party bureau and later by the National Assembly. However, she said a request has already been filed with the Ministry of Public Health to allow three homosexual couples to receive reproduction assistance, in anticipation of the change in Cuban law. While she noted that there has been some resistance to the plan, she said, “Laws by themselves are not sufficient for achieving real change,” but they are essential to advancing policies.
Regarding the legalization of homosexual unions, Castro said they could not yet be called “marriages” because that requires a change in Cuba’s Constitution. “That proposal will be made at an opportune moment. Right now changing the Family Code will be enough,” she added.
“We have inherited a patriarchal family model,” she claimed. “We are not capable of breaking with it and we must do so,” Castro stated.
The fissures between communism’s idyllic end and reality have helped relax the nation, which continues to look forward, not back toward Fidel’s mythical era.
Never would you hear a high-ranking official such as Alarcon say an America, capitalist art fag “achieves the transmission of a purely artistic message and sense”. Alcaron also dismissed any criticism of Mapplethorpe’s at times painful look at the human body:
Frankly, this really doesn’t strike me as a ‘sexual’ exposition. Nudity is found in cultures dating much further back than the United States or Cuba. Classicism is full of the nude human body.
Too true, Mr. Alarcon – good to know Cuba’s look back, as well.
35-year old photographer Ricardo Rodriguez says he never thought he’d see the day, “I never thought I would have this experience in Cuba, to see Mapplethorpe’s work firsthand”. See, homophobic British bishop Graham Dow? Progress is about happiness and artistic celebration, not biblical disaster.