Video presentation of Cuba
Homophobia - from repudiation through discrimination and in extreme circumstances even to open violence - is in the Caribbean still a trigger for social conflicts. Only a few years ago a series of gruesome murders of homosexuals occurred in Barranquilla and Cartagena de Indias. In this study two main research objectives are established: What is the level of acceptance of homosexuals? Do double standards with regard to homosexuality exist? Field researches and film recordings were carried out in the two biggest cities of the Colombian Caribbean coast, Barranquilla and Cartagena de Indias, the village Palenque de San Basilio, and two Cuban cities, Havana and Santa Clara.
To study sociocultural and discursive manifestations of homophobia and tolerance of homosexuality a combination of linguistic and statistical techniques is used. The field data is compiled, analyzed and processed by means of the combination of the following methods: visual ethnographic techniques, discourse analysis, descriptive and inferential statistics. This methodological triangulation guarantees to structure the audiovisual data and interlink the obtained information in order to answer the research questions from different perspectives.
The author designs new algorithms for data collection and processing. Later on he elaborates descriptive models for the understanding and illustration of factors that effect homophobia such as machismo, double standards and others concomitant with the acceptance towards homosexuals. In this way he visualizes its interrelation. The innovative part of this procedure is on the one hand the application of path analysis methods that is further developed through the introduction of α-formulas, that enable to represent these recursive linear models in a compact way. On the other hand these models constitute the convergence point between quantitative and qualitative results that are presented by means of film essays.
Video presentation of Colombia
Table of content
- Cornelius Griep (2013): Homofobia y homofilia en Cuba y el Caribe Colombiano
- Article in university magazine 'TU Intern' (column Research, 2011): Machismo und Homophobie
- Facebook-Fanpage: Homofobia y homofilia en Cuba y el Caribe Colombiano
Why this investigation
Despite the diversity that characterizes the analyzed regions, Cuba and the Colombian Caribbean coast west of the Magdalena River, in particular, these regions are largely homogeneous in language, history, culture, ethnical composition, culinary specialities, religion, etc. This homogeneity makes feasible and viable a study of this area, with results that can transcend this particular socio-geographic space.
My original motivation for this investigation dates back into the year 2008 after the first visit of both most popular Colombian coastal cities Cartagena de Indias and Barranquilla, where a several homosexuals were murdered brutally, unsolved until today maybe because of reasons that are related to homophobia (like the fact of the police justification of these crimes with the sexual orientation of the murdered persons).
The sociohistoric fact that homosexuals after the victory of the socialist Revolution of 1959 were locked away into work camps, motivated the investigation of the topic in the today's Cuban society, which finds itself in a deep crisis of economy, language and values.
Another circumstance which influenced the choice of the topic of this study was the impact of the severe economic crisis that took place in Cuba since 1990 (also known as the special period) and left marks in today's Cuban society. This crisis contributed to significant changes in individual human values and discursive manifestations of the general population associated with these phenomena. One of the social phenomena associated with these changes was the jineterismo, sociocultural survival strategy through prostitution with foreigners, studied in my monograph "The official discourse and its influence on spoken language in Cuba". The phenomena 'Jineterismo', at the point of this research, had been already considered among the Cuban population as a sociocultural accepted strategy (see Griep 2011, pp. 66 and Griep 2016).
In 2007 I began doing ethnographic research on the discursive strategies of homosexuals in Cuba and their attempts to readjust the expression of their homosexuality in different areas of their life. My research began with the shooting of three stories of gay life in the island. Starting with this first work, It became evident that a big part of the Cuban population unconsciously identified masculinity as closely linked to the model of heterosexual life, and that the apparent tolerance toward homosexuals in recent years, mainly due to the change in official discourse regarding the civil rights of this social group, was conditioned by the extreme (socio-political, socio-cultural and socio-economic) situation of the special period. Since there was no representative empirical research, able to confirm or refute the hypothesis that the alleged tolerance toward homosexuals was a nonexistent reality beyond the official discourse, I decided to investigate the topic.
Questions to homofobia, homosexuality and sexual double standards in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean until now were only treated on a literary level; probably there exist very few or no academic investigations on this topic.
In the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s were carried out in North America and Europe significant studies on the subject of homosexuality and masculinity that enrich existing gender studies. Notable are especially those by Balderston / Guy (1997), Barret / Whitehead (2001), Bosse / King (2000), Brod (1987), Connel / Wood (2005), Cornwall / Lindisfarne (1994), Mosse (1996), Reeser (2010) and in Latin America, for example, Melhuus / Stolen (1996) and Foster / Reis (1996). Other important studies in Latin America are, for example, those by Fuller / Olavarria / Nurse / Reis (2001), Olavarria (2003); in Argentina Archetti (1996, 1997, 2003) investigates issues related to stereotypes regarding homosexuality in social areas that are highly considered to be male dominated. Other researchers on the same line of investigation are Montesino Aguirre (1996) and Valdés / Olavarria (1997, 1998), Parker (1998) in Brazil, in Mexico Prieur (1996) and Nencel (1996) and especially Fuller (1996, 1997, 1998, 2001) in Peru. The latter stands out especially for her research on male identities. Studies on gender and masculinities in Colombia are influenced by official changes that took place after the new constitution, which gave rights to traditionally discriminated or segregated minorities, was approved in 1991. Since then there has been various studies, for example by Arango / León / Viveros (1995) and Viveros Vigoya (2002), but they did not extend to the Caribbean coast, where even until today these issues are not part of the academic interest. This research aims to be an initial approximation to a topic that remains currently being approached rudimentarily, because of the lack of studies and systemic instruments with the necessary rigor.
In the case of Cuba, masculinity studies began in 1990, when Mariela Castro Espín founded the CENESEX (Center for the Study of Sexuality). Since then there has been some legislative and cultural progress regarding LGBT rights, especially after the release of the film 'Fresa y Chocolate' which according to Fowler (1998), Pagés González (2004) and González (2008) has had a great impact on the Cuban society.
In recent studies of homophobia in Cuba is Fowler (1998) to be mentioned, an outstanding researcher who provides a detailed study of homophobic discourse in the early years of the Cuban nation. After focusing on the study of the works by authors such as José Lezama Lima and Virgilio Piñera, Fowler analyzes gay speech and the ways in which that speech is disguised, as well as the guilt complex experienced by homosexuals due to the strong impact of the patriarchal tradition.
En este trabajo se exploran los mecanismos de generación de exclusión social que se expresan a través de las variedades lingüísticas en Cuba y el Caribe Colombiano. Se desarrollan factores de distanciamento que se reflejan a nivel sociolingüístico por determinadas expresiones verbales y no-verbales que aparecen en estas regiones a través de la ironía, la mímica, la exageración, el choteo (Cuba), el mamagallismo (Caribe Colombiano) y el discurso “machista”. Se explora la mirada del concepto de género que tienen los heterosexuales y sus expresiones homofóbicas que conllevan a la exclusión de los homosexuales en la sociedad.
De igual forma se estudian variedades lingüísticas enriquecidas por las religiones sincretistas venidas del Africa y su repercusión en las diferencias socioeconómicas de estos en relación a otros grupos sociales. Este último es un punto de interés para el investigador porque los mismos grupos donde la exclusión social se hace más definida, por ejemplo, muchas de las comunidades negras (en zonas marginadas de La Habana, Palenque de San Basilio en el Caribe Colombiano), manifiestan un discurso homofóbico que evoca hacia una separación social en concomitancia con aquellos que tienen una orientación sexual ajena a su supuesto patrón de normalidad. Esta situación es un fenómeno social que tiene sus bases en las condiciones socioeconómicas y socioculturales, que son similares (en un mismo entorno, lengua, composición étnica, religión, música y costumbres culinarias) en las regiones sujetas a este estudio y en relación con los cambios económicos que afectan el derecho a la vida y el desarrollo de las relaciones humanas.