“The institutional rejection of homosexuals started with the born of UMAP [Military Units to Aid Production]. That happened like in 1964 if I remember well. Maybe earlier, but I think it started at the same time as the obligatory military service, as another way to control young people. The UMAP was specific because it was a concentration camp without any cover up. It was for anyone who would have any issue or disaffection with the regime. For example, the Jehovah’s witnesses who refused to join the military service for their religion, which does not allow them any use of guns or form of violence. When I was in a prison, I met a lot of Jehovah’s witnesses.”
“The revolution, unfortunately started as a myth. Cuba was not behind or undeveloped, we were never a third world country. That was just one of the huge lies. Also, we weren’t racists. I grew up in Buenavista playing on the streets together with Chinese people, polish Jews, black people, Spanish people, Mexicans. Of course, there were rich people and poor people, that’s how it’s always been. But there were never just black neighborhoods in Cuba. So, where’s the racism? There were people from everywhere. They immigrated from Italy, Mexico… The winery that was close to where I lived was owned by this Mexican lady. Her name was Lupe.”
“I need you to understand that I humiliated myself, spent a fortune, and they still wouldn’t let me go see my mom, who was dying at the time. Besides, these idiots were very happy to tell my sister that her brother will never be able to come back to this country ever again. Gosh, it was as if I would be a terrorist or something, when all I had done was just writing a novel. If they’re able to grow such deep and rooted hate towards a homosexual, just because he has written a book about how he’s persecuted, what more are they capable of? What can you expect from this country? There were people that were my friends, but when I was imprisoned, they just acted as if I had never known them.”
“There, I started to study theatre. Unfortunately, for I have always been very effeminate, they started to make assumptions and accuse me with them. It was mostly an act of jealousy because I was one of the better students. They started to accuse me of being homosexual, because of my femininity. But I wasn’t the only one, there were more students that they targeted.”
Even though I feel very Cuban, I’ve never felt comfortable in this country
Daniel Domingo Fernández González was born in the neighborhood of Buenavista, Havana, on the 20th of December 1947. His family was poor. His father was a riveter of pressure cookers, and his mother was a door-to-door seller of articles. Daniel loved reading and learning about things as a kid. The first part of primary school he spent studying at the catholic school of De La Salle Brothers. Later, he was able to go to the eastern region of Cuba, where he would teach people to read and write, as a part of The Cuban Literacy Campaign. When he turned 14, he started studying theatre at the National Art School in Cubanacán. When he was old enough, he was forced to enter the obligatory military service, during which he had to serve a sentence in the prison of the Morro Castle. After that, he started working as a stevedore in the wharfs of Havana. During this time, he wrote a novel about the persecution of homosexuals in Cuba. For this, he was ordered to serve another sentence. He managed to emigrate to the USA, where he stays until today. He’s been living there for 42 years.