Machos, Maricones, and Gays: Cuba and Homosexuality

By Ian Lumsden | Go to book overview

SIX
The Erosion of Traditional Machismo

THE OPPRESSION of homosexuals in Cuba has its origins in a patriarchal culture that celebrates conventional masculinity at the expense of women and of men whose public behavior is perceived as unmasculine. "Effeminate" men who do not exhibit the required traits of masculinity are labeled maricones. Homosexuals whose gender identity more closely resembles that associated with heterosexual males suffer less discrimination, but in the final analysis they too are considered to be maricones. Effeminacy will be projected onto them even if it is not apparent in their behavior. The hegemony of machista values--and by extension homophobia--is weakened to the extent that male privilege in social relations is challenged by women at work and in the home. It is also undermined by cultural changes which question traditional stereotypes of masculinity and legitimate alternative forms of sexual expression.

Despite a formal commitment to equality for women that dates back to the earliest years of the revolution, and that was formalized in both the 1975 Family Code and the 1976 Constitution,

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