by: Milton Pérez Osorio
A panel on “Sexualidades Queer, Activismo, Cuba y Puerto Rico” (Queer Sexualities, Activism, Cuba and Puerto Rico) was offered at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez on March 4 at 5 p.m. in the context of the V Coloquio ¿del Otro La’o?: Perspectivas sobre Sexualidades Queer. Each panelist discussed an historical event of the movements related to the organization Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Two-Spirit, Queer (LGBTTQ) and the Cuban National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) in Cuba and Puerto Rico.
Guillermo Rebollo-Gil, Ph.D., assistant profesor in the School of Social Science, Humanities, and Communication at the Metropolitan University of Puerto Rico discussed the story of Pedro Julio Serrano, an activist who fights for the rights of LGBTTQ people Puerto Rico. Serrano had set his goal to give the opportunity to form family and be protected by the nation for the gays and lesbian. As Dr. Rebollo said: “ Serrano is one of the few men who manages to inspire the people and communities to make a right against those who abuse their political powers against others.” Serrano debated against the prejudiced religious leaders in radio, television, and activities around the island, including postings in his official Facebook page since 2000.
Lastly, Isabel M. Ríos-Torres presented the historical progression of homophobia that occurred in Cuba and the interaction of CENESEX in the society of Cubans. As stated by Ríos-Torres, the effects of homophobia did not become a situation in the society until 1960, when the government branded male femininity and deemed those who did not have heterosexual orientations as a threat to society and government. This movement caused thousand of men and women to be exiled from their country.
Recently Cubans started to establish an organization to help reduce homophobia known as CENESEX. This education agency was made to enlighten Cubans of the rights of the LGBT community. Because of these movements by CENESEX, it had helped develop attention to the public by establishing an International day against Homophobia.
This is the fifth time that the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez welcomes speakers and activists to participatein the Coloquio ¿del Otro La’o, which took place from March 4 to March 6, 2014. According to the February 26, 2014 edition of Visión, Coloquio coordinator Dr. Lissette Rolón organized this year’s event to focus mainly not just on the discrimination of sex and gender, but also on discrimination for racial, social class or political motives.
The panel was originally composed of Rebollo-Gil, Ríos-Torres and Wilfred Labiosa to discuss the affairs in Cuba at the Anfiteatro Ramón Figueroa Chapel, Chardón Building. Having around 50 spectators in the room, the moderator of the panel, Aixa Rodríguez Rodríguez, announced that Wilfred Labiosa could not make it to the event due to personal circumstances.