From the Mariel Boatlift to Gay Cuban Miami
Publication Year: 2013
During only a few months in 1980, 125,000 Cubans entered the United States as part of a massive migration known as the Mariel boatlift. The images of boats of all sizes, in various conditions, filled with Cubans of all colors and ages, triggered a media storm. Fleeing Cuba’s repressive government, many homosexual men and women arrived in the United States only to face further obstacles. Deemed “undesirables” by the U.S. media, the Cuban state, and Cuban Americans already living in Miami, these new entrants marked a turning point in Miami’s Cuban American and gay histories.
In Oye Loca, Susana Peña investigates a moment of cultural collision. Drawing from first-person stories of Cuban Americans as well as government documents and cultural texts from both the United States and Cuba, Peña reveals how these discussions both sensationalized and silenced the gay presence, giving way to a Cuban American gay culture. Through an examination of the diverse lives of Cuban and Cuban American gay men, we learn that Miami’s gay culture was far from homogeneous. By way of in-depth interviews, participant observation, and archival analysis, Peña shows that the men who crowded into small apartments together, bleached their hair with peroxide, wore housedresses in the street, and endured ruthless insults challenged what it meant to be Cuban in Miami.
Making a critical incision through the study of heteronormativity, homosexualities, and racialization, ultimately Oye Loca illustrates how a single historical event helped shape the formation of an entire ethnic and sexual landscape.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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Cuban American and gay histories. During just a few months, approxi-mately 125,000 Cubans entered the United States in a massive and highly publicized migration that garnered national and international who migrated partly as a response to a particularly repressive era in During a period of tense U.S.–Cuban relations and at the begin-...
1 From UMAPs to Save Our Children: Policing Homosexuality in Cuba and Miami before 1980
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...homosexuality was already political center stage in both Cuba and Miami. In Cuba during the late 1960s and early 1970s, male homo-sexuality and the gender-transgressive practices associated with it be-came the target of a state seeking to define itself and its citizenry. Male homosexuality was seen as a threat to the new communist nation, a ...
2 Obvious Gays and the State Gaze: Gay Visibility and Immigration Policy during the Mariel Boatlift
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On the day Armando went to the police station to ask for permission to leave Cuba, he wore the gayest outfit he could find. Having been dissuaded from being a teacher because he was so “obvious,” Armando had experienced firsthand how a visible gay man’s life might be limited in Cuba. Although spared the more intense forms of repression faced ...
3 Cultures of Gay Visibility and Renarrating Mariel
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...transformation in Miami’s urban, racial, and sexual landscapes. CubanAmericans who had immigrated prior to 1980 were fearful that the Mariel immigrants, often referred to derogatorily as Marielitos, would tarnish their reputations as “golden exiles.” African Americans and other non-Latino black Miamians worried that their opportunities in ...
4 Pájaration and Transculturation: Language and Meaning in Gay Cuban Miami
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...contributed to (gay) Miami in the 1990s. Other migrations from Cuba prior to Mariel (“Golden Exiles”) and post-Mariel (“los balseros”), as well as migrations from other parts of Latin America and the Carib-bean, contributed to a transcultural and diverse gay culture in this U.S. city. In this chapter and those that follow, I analyze the Cuban ...
5 Narratives of Nation and Sexual Identity: Remembering Cuba
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...created a narrative of a masculine nation by contrasting it with the assumed weakness, unproductiveness, and effeminacy of male homo-sexuals. In much the way revolutionary Cuban narratives discred-ited bourgeois capitalism by associating it with gay male subcultures, mainstream exile narratives discredited communism by asserting its ...
6 Families, Disclosure, and Visibility
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...liked boys and not girls. He had heard his parents talk about their love of freedom, a freedom they lost in Cuba and had found again in the land of opportunity. They talked about freedom of speech and the free-dom to make one’s own choices. Thus twelve-year-old Rubén did not censor himself when proclaiming his attraction for the same sex. He ...
7 Locas, Papis, and Muscle Queens: Racialized Discourses of Masculinity and Desire
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...and 1980s. Even though from early childhood he was aware of his own sexuality and engaged in sexual play with other boys, Luis did not begin to understand himself as gay until he was a high school stu-dent. However, even during childhood, he felt that the expectations of masculine performance were being imposed on him. Raised by a ...
8 ¡Oye Loca! Gay Cuba in Drag
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Revolution. During the 1960s and 1970s, the Cuban state identified gender transgressions as a threat to the new virile subject imagined to be the protagonist of a new socialist society, namely el Hombre Nuevo(the New Man). In this chapter, I focus on alternative protagonists. If el Hombre Nuevo wore military fatigues and smoked a cigar, my protago-...
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...gender transgression associated with Cuban male homosexuality. As stated earlier, the locas who came to the United States as part of the Mariel boatlift were the original inspiration for this project. Likewise, the locas whom I discuss in chapter 8 were important cultural interlocu-tors that complicated my research questions and shaped my under-...
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...study and generously agreed to share their lives with me. This book would not have been possible without their support, their stories, and their time. Although I cannot identify these men by name because of promises of confidentiality, I hope that if they read this text they can This project began while I was a graduate student of sociology at ...
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Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2013