Beyond Fresa Y Chocolate: LGBTQ+ Culture in Havana
The Revolution in 1959 brought sweeping changes to Cuba. Most notably, the nationalization of the economy, free education and healthcare, and the literacy campaign. However, the egalitarian Cuban dream did not actually belong to everyone, and one such marginalized group was the LGBTQ+ community. Sodomy was outlawed and openly gay individuals were interned in concentration camps to keep them separate from the rest of society. Such a draconian history has traditionally made Cuba an incredibly unsafe place for non-cis and non-heterosexual individuals. Things are changing, however. The sodomy law was repealed in 1979, and, in line with the rest of the healthcare system, gender reassignment surgery became both legal and free to anyone in 2008. Furthermore, Mariela Castro, the daughter of the current president Raúl, has made her mark as a public figure by becoming a vocal advocate for gay rights in Cuba. She heads the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), which works towards tolerance on LGBTQ+ issues in the country.