On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of Cubans gathered at Havana’s Revolution Square to observe the 50th anniversary of the failed U.S. Bay of Pigs invasion. The historic event, known in Cuba as the Girón Beach Battle, has always been celebrated with a huge annual military parade and fireworks akin to the 4th of July or Veteran’s Day celebrations in the United States.
It’s also preceded and followed by huge public rallies dedicated this year to the younger generations by Cuban president Raúl Castro (he expressed concern that those who surrounded him were reaching his age or were older and said he wanted to promote the participation of younger generations in Cuban revolutionary party politics).
His daughter, Mariela Castro, was also there as the director of the National Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX) and led an unofficial LGBT contingent who proudly carried the rainbow flag next to the Cuban flag (that’s Mariela Castro at the center in the picture holding the rainbow flag). On their site, CENESEX posted additional photos and noted that their participation in the historic ceremony comes in advance of the 4th Annual Congress Against Homophobia which will take place in May and feature cultural and educational forums throughout the island including Havana, Camagüey, Ciego de Ávila, Granma, Villa Clara and, yes, Guantanamo. No word on whether U.S. actor Sean Penn will show up after taking a rain-check last year when he was invited to the Cuban premiere of Gus Van Sant’s "Milk" during last year’s anti-homophobia events.
There is a Castro who is fighting to introduce radical changes in Cuba. It is Raúl Castro’s daughter, Mariela Castro. As head of the government-funded National Centre for Sex Education, she is trying to change people’s attitudes towards minority groups in the community. She is currently attempting to get the Cuban National Assembly to adopt what would be among the most liberal gay and transsexual rights law in Latin America. The proposed legislation would recognise same-sex unions, along with inheritance rights. It would also give transsexuals the right to free sex-change operations and allow them to switch the gender on their ID cards, with or without surgery.
Anthony Goicolea’s entire body of work can be described as a fictional autobiography. Similar to artist Gregory Crewdson, Goicolea creates elaborate mises en scènes, painstakingly produced for each work, resulting in moody, sinister stages where his characters interact and create undefined stories. His videos, as well as his photographs, always depict groups of boys engaging in games, or rather, in ambiguous activities: one boy pinning another to a bed and spitting in his face; boys wearing hoods and running scared in a forest; boys cleaning a pool full of floating bodies; a boy obsessively biting his nails; school boys mischievously posing as if in a class photograph; and uniformed boys eating gluttonously around a table. These are among the many examples of boyhood behavior captured by this artist since 1996 in photographs and videos, and most recently, also in installations and drawings.
Upon closer notice, the viewer realizes the boys depicted in these unusual actions are all the same, and in real life, the artist. Goicolea’s youthful looks have been described by many as “uncanny”. Although the artist was born in 1971, with makeup and costume he oftentimes passes for a teenager. This physical trait serves the artist as a tool in an exploration of boyhood themes and behavior. Goicolea draws less from his cultural heritage, than from gender identity and sexuality issues, especially the ambiguous period of a pre-pubescent and adolescent male and the complex rites of passage in the search for identity, self-esteem and a sense of self.