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Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

My Friend’s Sexual Struggles in Cuba

May 28, 2014 | Print Print |

Irina Pino

Friendship. Photo: Juan Suárez

HAVANA TIMES — For her, love involves two people, no matter what their gender.

As a teenager, she was interested in having boyfriends. She liked a boy in her high school and began having sexual relations with him. She was the first in her class who boasted of not being a virgin, something which earned her no shortage of enemies and intolerance among her classmates.

Those were the kinds of relationships she had as a young woman. She remained heterosexual until she met a girl at a theater workshop with whom she established a very special friendship. They would go out everywhere together, sharing their artistic and other interests.

They ended up having sex and she liked the experience. They were a couple for a few months. She even spent the night at her place. One morning, however, the girl’s mother entered the room unannounced and found them lying naked in bed. She kicked up a huge fuss and kicked the girl out of the house.

Later, her parents sat down and decided to take her to a psychiatrist, because their daughter had become aggressive and didn’t even to speak to them. She would then go into a depression and didn’t even want to get out of bed. She began feeling guilty about her actions and even tried to kill herself by slitting her wrists.

When they convinced her to get help and took her to a specialist, the psychiatrist told the parents they shouldn’t be shocked their daughter was bisexual and that bisexual individuals often had more of an inclination towards one gender. Things then went from bad to worse.

They began to control who her friends where and who she went out with. They practically made her life hell. They were intransigent: there was no way of pleasing them. If she brought a boy over, the parents were happy but concerned. Then, when she ended the relationship and began one with a girl, they reproached her for being a lesbian. She couldn’t even have friends.

She continued going to therapy and little by little come out of her depression. She finished her studies and became a professional.

Over the years, she had relationships with both women and men, but avoided taking them to her house. When we ran into each other on the street and talked, she would always bring up the issue of sex. She would tell me she was comfortable with both men and women, that, in love, one should only choose someone on the basis of their personal quality, interests, tastes and sensibility. It doesn’t matter what body these are hidden in. One’s gaze must penetrate deeply and be unprejudiced. Human and spiritual values are the most important.

Mayra – that is my friend’s name – got tired of speaking with her parents and explaining to them that her sexual preferences were not in the least abnormal. She even gave them books and documentaries dealing with sexuality in a scientific manner, to no avail. They could not, or would not, understand. Their misguided views and repulsion prevailed over reason.

Gradually, living with them became extremely difficult. They decided to trade their house for two smaller places and give the daughter one of them. She now lives with a woman. They’ve been together for three years.

Her parents still hope she will one day find a good man, get married and have children, like a normal person. They hope they will one day see her in a normal family. In the meantime, they merely look on apprehensively at this singular couple who, according to all our common friends, love and complement one another and have made a healthy home for themselves.

Her neighbors, who disapproved of her at first and wouldn’t stop making malicious comments about her freethinking ways, no longer criticize her so much. They limit themselves to saying: “it seems like she’s found her soul-mate.”


What's your opinion?

  • August Zhao

    It is very hard for a heterosexual person to accept homosexuality, in my opinion. However it does not mean he can not accept a person of homosexual or bi-sexual. Our society has come a long way in accepting people who are different from us, whether that means religion, race, gender, culture or others. However degree of tolerance always varies from one place to another.

    Would Mayra’s parents be more acceptable if Mayra find a 60 years old fat foreign man, who is married with 2 kids in his own country? While Mayra is only dating him because of his money? Would that be consider a better alternative than what Mayra is doing right now? If so, what makes one better than the other?

    • Griffin

      An excellent question. Well done.