This weekend Communist Cuba held a large government-backed rally against homophobia, the first of its kind in that country, presided over by Raul Castro’s daughter, Mariela.
“This is a very important moment for us, the men and women of Cuba, because for the first time we can gather in this way and speak profoundly and with scientific basis about these topics,” said Mariela Castro, director of Cuba’s Center for Sexual Education.
Cuba’s metrosexual revolution, the modernisation – perestroika even – of attitudes towards sexuality and gender after decades of stagnation and embargo, seems to be picking up speed after hirsute, retrosexualist revolutionary Fidel Castro’s official departure from the scene (in a tracksuit).
I’m sure Mariela is sincere in her motivation and goals, however it should be pointed out that this new, enlightened approach is also a rather good, relatively inexpensive way of ‘rebranding’ Cuba after years of bad press. Being nice to gays is after all one of the ways in which all sorts of out-of-touch and oppressive institutions such as the British Army, the BBC, The New York Times, and even the Guardian have attempted to update their fusty, daggy image in the past decade.
As part of the new drive to change attitudes, Brokeback Mountain was also aired on prime-time Cuban TV over the weekend.
Which just goes to remind us that all revolutions have downsides.