In 2004 the author made two journeys of investigation to Havana, where he won the confidence of the protagonists, so that for the first time people spoke openly in front of a camera about their homosexuality and life in Cuba.
Tomás, 60, writer
Is a former friend and colleague of Reinaldo Arenas in the National Library. He still works there to date. His life story reminds us of the revolutionary years as well as of the persecution of homosexuals in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Central issues are the revolution and religion. He is a follower of the Santería, an Afro-Cuban religion which is related to voodoo. In the Santería homosexuals are not marginalised or discriminated against. Gays are part of the traditional Nigerian myths, amongst others as rescuers of the goddess of the sea, Yemayá.
Raudel, 19, social worker
He lives together with his mother in a small house in San Antonio de los Baños, a little village near Havana. As well as Tomás, he is a follower of the Santería-religion. And just like him he believes in the revolution. In the country there exist clandestine and prohibited meeting points within the gay-scene, too, to which the camera accompanies him.
Imperio, 34, drag artist
He is one of the most famous drag queens in Havana. Every night he performs in an illegal nightclub. He is HIV-positive and has experienced the development of the way that the Cuban authorities deal with Aids: ranging from internment in detention camps to a more open way and the possibility of free medical treatment nowadays.
Eduardo, 34, artist
Photographer and artist, who has had his collages presented at several exhibitions in Havana. In his work he has been dealing for several years with the image of men in Cuban society and with the Cuban “Machismo”. As Tomás, he belongs to the intellectual upper-class of Havana. Just like him, he doesn’t consider the the aim of a gay movement to be an assimilation to the mainstream after the Western archetype. He rather expects the vacuum of communistic Cuba to be a chance to expose the construction of masculinity, gender and homosexuality and to create a new kind movement by being different.
Alexey, 30, dancer
Son of a functionary of the Communist Party. Unemployed. He lives illegally in a small room in Havana Centro. A typical figure of the night on the Malecón: flashy and colourful. He has constant problems with the police and the authorities. Even though he is gay he does not believe in love between males, just like many other Cuban gays.
Ahmed “Isabel”, 23, transsexual
He is unemployed and tries to live as a woman. He lives in a house which is about to collapse in Havana Centro, together with his grandparents. The most important place for him is the
Malecón, the water front of Havana, where he meets his friends every night. He suffers most from prejudice and discrimination. Even within his family he gets mocked more than loved. His big hope is being able to live as a woman one day.