Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
Machos Maricones & Gays: Cuba and Homosexuality Paperback – January 29, 1996
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who bought this item also bought
"[This book] is sure to upset both sides of the Cuban Question, which speaks well for the author's thoroughness and his open-mindedness...adding to [its] value as a resource on gay Cuban life is a comprehensive bibliography, an essay on santeria by Tomas Fernandez Robaina, and the 'Manifesto of Gay and Lesbian Association of Cuba.'" --Lambda Book Report
From the Publisher
A historically based, first-hand report of contemporary homosexuality in Cuban society and culture
Top customer reviews
The one thing the book shows is what a dead-end the Cuban system represents. The author writes that: black Cuban citizens are incorporated into society in a way inconceivable in North America. Well, fifteen years later, the Cuban leadership is mostly aging and white; while the United Stated has a young African-American president. Furthermore, the reforms that the Cuban government is now talking about instituting are the same reforms they were talking fifteen years ago. So much for progress. The author follows the official Cuban line that, all their economic woes are due to the US embargo. However, it also writes that no other country but the US respects that embargo. Is US trade the only source of income; or is it the basic flaw in an authoritarian, centralized, capricious system the real culprit?
Lumsden spent a great deal of time in Cuba, studying the history and interviewing individuals. As the title implies, Lumsden focuses a large part of the work on explaining the development of gender roles and their ideals and stereotypes. He elaborates this to show how these view of gender resulted in the eventual institutionalization of homophobia. The pre-Revolutionary values of machismo entailed a social rejection of men that weren't masculine enough. When the Revolution arrived, it left almost no aspect of Cuban social life untouched. The Revolutionary government sought to regulate gender roles; therefore, all those who did not fit Cuba's ideal of gender were subjected to persecution. Homosexuals were put in prison camps, and subjected to physical and mental abuses. Lumsden tends to place perhaps too much blame on the United States for the social problems in Cuba. In an attempt to overthrow all things revolutionary in Cuba, the United States has instituted a trade embargo, which Lumsden says is one of the main things hindering development in Cuba. He says that this has resulted in a continued attempt to regulate gender roles, and therefore, homosexuality, in order maintain cohesion and to gain economic prosperity.
The values of machismo continue to this day, but Lumsden optimistically argues that traditional values of gender and sex are being relaxed, particularly as women take on more traditionally male roles. The picture he paints of Cuba today shows that institutionalized homophobia is slowly disintegrating. He gives a positive image of the media, which is moving away from homophobic portrayals. Lumsden also discusses Cuba's controversial treatment of AIDS victims, who are quarantined in special hospitals.
One strength of Lumsden's work is his emphasis that homophobia comes in many forms and has developed out of diverse historical circumstances. Values in the United States are marked by extreme individualism, whereas Cuba has an alternate conception of human rights, which leans more to collectivism. Therefore, the aspirations of gay rights activists in Cuba are somewhat different from what U.S. activists are trying to achieve. The immediate needs are gays in Cuba are still more centered on gaining economic security, while issues such as gay adoption and marriage aren't of greatest concern. Lumsden's work clearly analyzes the uniqueness of the situation for gays in Cuba, resulting in a fascinating and illuminating read.
I found much of the information fascinating (such as his description of machismo and how it functions within the society) and upon closing the book, felt I had a much greater understanding of the situation in Cuba.
However, while the prospect of a different perception seemed appealing, I feel that the author's own apparent biases were both distracting to the subject and, at times, bordering on infuriating.
Not only does he continually speak strongly unfavorably of the United States, he uses this repeatedly, as well as other means, to somehow lighten or excuse almost all horrible events within Cuba and all actions of Fidel Castro against gays.
For example, he talks (on page 70) about how the slave labor that camp members were required to do (such as harvesting sugar cane) was needed because of America's blockade. Granted, the US's stance on Cuba greatly harmed its economy, however, one cannot go on to say that America is therefore responsible for Cuba's slave labor. Many incidents, such as this, upset me to the point that I had to put the book down (or write a nasty note in the sidelines).
Even more frequent, the author uses wording or makes underling assumptions in order to further excuse the atrocities of Cuba. He writes (on page 69), "Although some camps were reserved exclusively for homosexuals, overall conditions in such camps were not necessarily worse than in other camps in which homosexuals were a minority. In some respects, they might have even been better as a result of the collective efforts of their inmates to humanize their environment by adding a gay touch to their barracks and camp life". For one, he is skirting the issue that it is atrocious that gays were even put into such camps, and two, "not necessarily" does not clarify anything. Further, his assumption about the `gay touch' sounds almost comical and greatly undermines the seriousness of the issue. One would never say about the Holocaust that gays had it better because they could add a `gay touch' to their barracks. It would be consitered insulting.
Also, I felt that many of his statements were contradictory, and I often found myself searching back through the pages in order to justify my claim. Such is the case, on page fifty-six, when Lumsden discredits Americans as not having strong family attachment in comparison to Cubans. He goes on the next paragraph, then, to talk about how the sexual affairs of husbands were "tolerated so long as the preeminence of wives over other women was affirmed in public". Somehow that does not seem to be harmonious with family attachment.
And every time he does mention something negative about Cubans, he premises it with `but it is better than or equal to other Latin American countries' or with some negetive comment about the US.
While, in certain cases he has a valid point, I feel that, for me at least, this continual `excusing' took away from the work.
I do realize, however, that it is very difficult to explain a different culture, and, many times, this is what he was trying to do. Yet, through subtly (and not so subtly) attacking another culture, he must realize that he runs the risk of isolating his reader (such as he did me).
Upon finishing the book, in spite of this, I did feel as though I had learned a great deal about Cuba. However, I feel that a lot of my knowledge was aquired through reading between the lines.