In Government’s Shadow, Gay Cubans Test Communism

Ron Berensky, a Coalition board member who makes no secret his anti-Castro sentiment, says he and his allies hope to help “promote” the island’s hidden gay movement, and “help them with logistics and leadership.” America’s homos, of course, have no lack of experience in gay rights activism. In addition to asking for gay bars and magazines, says Berensky, the Coalition ultimately seeks full marriage rights, a move that goes against the government, obviously, and also may be in conflict with the island’s queer communities.

“LGBT activists actually asked Mariela Castro not to start talking about same-sex marriage, says Dittrich. “They were afraid it would cause a backlash, they told me.” Not surprisingly, the Center for Sexual Diversity has no interest in working with the Coalition, as evidenced by spokesman Alberto Guerra’s reaction when asked if he would ever call on their help: “CENESEX and the other Cuban institutions which work with sexual diversity are serious and professional organizations.” The implication is that Unity Coalition’s meddling unnecessarily into the Centre – and, by extension, the government’s – affairs.

The tensions were most evident last July, when Havana police squashed what would have been the island’s first gay pride parade. That event, which took place just weeks after the state-sponsored International Day Against Homophobia, had been organized by Coalition, and the government saw it as nothing less than a counter-revolutionary event. Outraged by the repression, Berensky insisted the group wasn’t trying to make a political statement. “It wasn’t a march to demand anything. It wasn’t a political march,” he says before indirectly contradicting himself, “This is a way of celebrating our lifestyle and the government said, ‘No, you can’t do it.’ Well, that’s not democracy.” Well, no, it’s not. It’s communism. And liberal projections only complicate arguments against the revolutionary state.