With temperatures in the 80's, our December trip to Cuba felt as though it was taking place in the middle of the summer! Our group enjoyed a fascinating first-hand look into this long closed-off communist island. In addition to exploring history, both colonial and post-revolution, we were able to meet Cubans and gain a better understanding of their everyday lives - and their dreams for the future. We also had the chance to meet locals in the gay community and learn more about the growing acceptance and struggle for gay rights in Cuba.
Brazil is an amazing destination any time of year - but Carnaval is always an extra special time to visit Rio. Yes, the crowds are bigger, which means longer lines at tourist attractions such as the Cristo Redemptor statue, but it is worth it to see one of the greatest spectacles on earth at the Sambadrome. Our group had an absolute blast in Brazil for our Carnaval tour in February! I wanted to share some photos of our time in Rio and Buzios and hope you will join us next year for our Brazil Carnaval 2017 Package or one of other World In Color trips to Brazil.
One of the most stunning beaches in Brazil is not nearly as famous as Ipanema - but it's just as beautiful. The blue lagoon, also known as paradise lagoon, is located outside of Fortaleza in Northern Brazil. We stopped there on the way to Jericoacoara, a picturesque village located amidst giant sanddunes. The water at the Blue Lagoon is a crystal clear blue, and there are hammocks and huts in the water, so you can sit back, relax, and soak up the Brazilian sun! Check out our gay group Brazil Tours with World In Color Tours!
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One of my favorite parts of visiting Cuba is meeting the people that live there. While beaten down by years of economic hardship, Cubans possess a natural vibrancy that shines through even in the most difficult circumstances.
Beautiful editorial shoot of models on Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in GQ magazine.
World In Color Tours offers gay travel packages to Brazil. Join us for the trip of a lifetime and view our gay guide to Brazil!
For Americans in Cuba, it soon becomes obvious that 'gay,' 'straight,' and 'bisexual' are labels which do not accurately categorize the complex view of sexuality held by Cubans, and many others in Latin countries. Cubans, for the most part, ascribe to the "Latin model" of sexual orientation and believe that as long as a man is activo (top) in a sexual encounter, he is straight. Thus, a man who is married but occasionally has encounters with men on the side as the activo is still considered to be a hombre macho "real" man (this is particularly true if he has children).
Cuba places a huge emphasis on families, and men are still highly pressured to settle down with a woman and have a family. Interestingly, a Cuban woman I spoke to told me that if she found out her husband slept with men occasionally she would be upset, but also relieved that he was not sleeping with another woman who he might leave her for. "Cuban women tend to look the other way in these situations," she explained. But if I found out he was "bicha" (bottom) then I couldn't tolerate that. One Cuban friend of mine told me he had been sleeping with a guy for over a year - and was then suddenly invited to this man's wedding. "He really wanted me to go for some reason, and was surprised when I was upset. He said he thought I knew he wasn't gay - but even after the wedding he still called occasionally and wanted to see me."
To make matters even more confusing, there has been a definite rise in metrosexual looking men in Havana - men who sleep exclusively with women, yet are groomed to perfection, wear extremely tight designer clothing, lots of jewelry and have edgy hairstyles. The Yonqui (named after El Yonqui, an incredibly popular reggaeton artist best known for his outrageous outfits and hair), has morphed into a whole sub-set of styles and variations. More recently “The Shark” (shaved sides, wide crest of hair combed towards the back and gelled into a fine point) and the Pineapple (shaved sides with long hair weaved into several braids that tie up to go in different directions) have taken off.
These cultural differences in Cuba are yet one more thing that make this country such an interesting place to visit. So while in Cuba, remember to throw away American labels such as 'straight' and 'gay' and realize in Cuba you can never judge a book by its cover.
Plan your legal trip and explore gay issues in Cuba on our World In Colors gay Cuba tour. Also, take a look at World In Color Tours gay guide to Cuba.
Photographer Kevin Slack has made numerous trips to Cuba to document the beauty and melancholy of the communist island nation. His photos of both gay and straight Cuban male models contrasts the vibrancy of the Cuban people amidst the crumbling buildings and ruins of Havana. A few of his artistic photographs are below - check out his website for more (website NSFW). Want to see Cuba for yourself? Our 5 day gay Cuba tour offers you the chance to legally see Cuba from an LGBT perspective.
La Fabrica del Arte Cubano is the place foreign tourists go to see a younger, edgier, emerging Cuba. Or it's the place teenagers who don't have a lot of money can go dancing at 2 a.m. for a $2 cover charge. You can drink mojitos or Red Bull and see an avant-garde play by a Spanish theater troupe, or the work of an Israeli photographer, or "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."
La Fabrica (Cuban Art Factory) can do all that because it is a huge place, with multiple gallery and performance spaces, all housed beneath the roof of a former cooking oil plant near the Almendares River in Havana's Vedado neighborhood.
The idea is borrowed from Brooklyn and Berlin and everywhere else that old warehouse spaces are being repurposed as art galleries or performance venues. But the Factory is 100 percent criollo, all Cuban, in its ownership and operation but especially in the delicate cultural politics of facilitating artistic expression in a tightly controlled society.
The Factory is the creation of X Alfonso, a popular Cuban rocker and artist who manages to keep the place in operation without running afoul of Cuban authorities. It is neither a private business nor a state-run facility but classified as a "community project," allowing it to occupy government property but operate with a relatively broad degree of independence.
Since opening last year, the Factory has come under criticism in state media for appearing too much like a thriving, capitalistic enterprise. Some of its art also pushes political boundaries — one fascinating recent exhibit displayed 1950s photographs of Cuban homes that were given away as a promotional stunt by Candado, a popular soap brand in the era before Fidel Castro's revolution. The photographer went back and found the giveaway homes today, photographing them in various states of dilapidation.
This recent Trip Advisor reviewer called it “the hippest place I have ever been.” Few places in Cuba have been as successful at creating a space for high-end, high-minded art while also giving the city's teens a fun place to hang out. On weekends after midnight, when the discoteca in the Factory's basement really kicks off, crowds of well-dressed young people line up around the block, fiddling with smartphones that still don't connect to the Internet.
Visit the Cuban Art Factory and meet with up and coming Cuban artists, both straight and gay on our Gay Cuba Legal People to People Tour.
Over the years, I’ve learned much about Cuban culture (and gay culture) through its unique expressions and idioms. The following expressions give you a glimpse into that culture, and the daily struggles Cubans face. It’s not an attempt to list every word that’s used in Cuba — just a sneak preview.
Cubans call their Spanish “cubano” and it’s distinct from “castellano,” which they use to refer to Spanish from Spain.
You can butcher the language and Cubans won't care, which makes it a great place for improving your vocabulary and building confidence. Cubans tend to swallow the “s” at the end of a word; their pronunciation is a little muddy and hard to understand. It’s said that if you can decipher Cuban Spanish, you can understand any Spanish.
According to a local joke, the reason Cubans drop the “s” at the end of their words is because they’re saving them for the Malecón, so they can “pssss” and “tssss” at passing hotties.. Cubans love hearing this joke because it’s so true!
English is not spoken throughout Cuba. In fact, there are many places where no one speaks any English at all. But in all the major hotels, you’ll find many English-speaking Cubans to help you. Cubans get very lively and creative when they need to communicate with you, and as long as they understand what you want, it won’t matter if you make mistakes. Even so, it’s a good idea to bring a little phrase book with you; it’ll make your life a whole lot easier.
Here are some common words and phrases you’re likely to hear. Cubans love it when you turn all Cuban on them and use their expressions; it makes them feel like you’re “one of them.”
Mango, mangón, manguita.
These variations of the word are used for men and women alike. When a guy calls you a “mango” on the street, it means that he finds you sexy and juicy, like a fresh tropical mango. Manguita is directed at a woman only.
It’s telling that pinga, slang equivalent of 'penis,’ is one of the most frequently used words in Cuba. The go-to insult for anyone and his mother—especially his mother— it’s used in about as many different connotations as “f***” is in America. You can eat pinga, talk pinga, or f*** pinga;
Mami/papi, corazón, mi vida, mi amor, preciosa(o), linda(o), princesa, hermosa(o), cariño.
All are expressions of affection for both men and women. Cubans are very warm people and use terms of endearment daily in a way many other Latin Americans do not. Being called “mi vida” [my life] is a casual thing and doesn’t necessarily mean anything too intimate, but it all depends on how it’s said. Then there are preciosa, princesa and lindísima, which are all thrown around casually. But if a guy really notices a woman (or man) and likes the way they carry themself, he’ll say those words with an emotional oomph, so that it really hits the heart. Cubans are indeed masters of seduction.
Cuban men like to call out after women and say sweet things, coming on to them at every street corner. Sometimes they’ll call a woman flaca [thin one] or flaquita, which is the same thing, only sexier and sweeter. Flaquita is also a term in the gay community for a twink, and often you will hear it said among gay friends as a teasing term of endearment.
Means “you have flavor.” Cubans love using this term. You might dress or walk a certain way, and Cubans will openly check you out and say, “Tienes swing, papi.”
A saucy, endearing, and sometimes insulting term for gays that means “little bird.” Even though Cuba is more liberal when it comes to gay people than other Latin American countries, the word maricón (f*g) gets thrown around more than it should, and it’s a good one to avoid using while you’re there.
A foreigner. Usually refers to women rather than men, but the term is interchangeable. Having said that, if I were to call myself a yuma, some Cubans would laugh and others might even be embarrassed. Cubans prefer the term extranjero/a, since yuma is considered street slang and somewhat equivalent to the word gringo in other Spanish-speaking countries. If you listen to Cuban songs, you’ll sometimes hear them sing about the yumas.
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“More than 1,000 gay, lesbian and transgender Cubans marched through Havana on Saturday,” reports Reuters.“ This once-unthinkable display in Cuba was no less than its eighth annual “March Against Homophobia and Transphobia.” This one took on extra special meaning for 20 couples who “symbolically exchanged” wedding vows, even as same-sex marriage remains illegal in Cuba, but hopefully not for long.
Gay Cubans erupted into a celebratory parade, banging conga drums and waving rainbow-colored banners. The special day is regularly celebrated just after May Day, the high holy day for the communist state.
One man called the celebration “a dream we never thought would have been possible.” A lesbian participant agreed: “In the interior of the country, you couldn’t even dream about an event like this.” She exchanged vows with her partner, and added: “It’s a unique event and surprising for gays who can show their faces without having to hide from anyone.”
That’s for sure. Castro’s Cuba once hauled off gay people to prisons. They were considered dangerous counter-revolutionaries who needed to be isolated or dispatched from the island. Mere decades ago, this kind of event would not have been tolerated.
Not anymore. There has been a fundamental transformation in Cuba. Why is the once-viciously “homophobic” Cuba suddenly embracing gay rights?
The force for change is Mariela Castro, Fidel’s niece and daughter of current President Raul Castro. She serves in Cuba’s non-democratic National Assembly and heads the Cuban National Center for Sex Education. Mariela has been spearheading gay rights in Havana for several years, with a measure of assistance from the United States, specifically the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton’s State Department. She adores President Obama and has lavishly commended his support of gay marriage. Mariela even claims that her uncle, Fidel, actually favors same-sex marriage, “but he has not made it public.”
While there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done, the tide has certainly begun to shift, thanks in no small part to the brave efforts of Mariel Castro.
We found this article to be an interesting reflection on Brazil's paradox of its large and open gay community and underlying homophobic attitudes that linger in the country.
Brazil, home to the biggest LGBT Pride celebration in the world and the infamously over-the-top Carnaval, is the last place on earth that one would expect to hear of a big to-do over a kiss, right? Not quite.
Brazilians are debating whether it is appropriate for stations to broadcast a gay couple kiss on primetime TV. It all began with the launch of a new telenovela entitled Insensato Coração (Foolish Heart) back in January, which includes six gay characters — a record number in Brazil’s soap-opera world.
Written by acclaimed writers Gilberto Braga and Ricardo Linhares, Insensato Coração was set to break the taboo that still exists in Brazil related to showing two people of the same sex kissing on a scripted show. But the event has been postponed by order of top executives at powerhouse Globo, Brazil’s leading television broadcaster. According to Ricardo Feltrin, an editor of entertainment at Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper, writers at Globo have been “verbally warned” not to create plots with gay content.
The decision came after news of a hot scene between two male characters of Insensato Coração leaked to the media, causing a stir among conservative viewers. The scene was later aborted. It’s at least the fifth time that Globo has bowed down to conservative pressures and back-paddled on decisions to air homosexual content. At one point Globo went so far as to censor a scene from an episode of The Simpsons in which Homer Simpson kisses his long-time friend Moe. Globo’s main competitor, Record, took the same track. Its owner, Edir Macedo, belongs to the Neo-Pentecostal Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, and is one of Brazil’s biggest anti-gay activists.
“Television is a mass medium and, as such, should contemplate all its publics. It is our mission to respect a non-targeted audience, multiple in their expectations and preferences,” Manoel Martins, Globo’s director of entertainment, explained in a press release.
But aren’t homosexuals part of that wider audience? That’s what Toni Reis, the president of gay-rights association ABGLT, believes. “Telenovelas should engage on subjects related to the society of which they are part of, and that includes gays,” Reis countered in a statement.
Although Latin American soap operas (“telenovelas”) are often viewed as cheesy in the northern hemisphere, they’ve earned a more serious status in Brazil, where producers have approached controversial topics such as mental illness, drug abuse and alcoholism. Homosexuality, though, has been continually seen as a beyond the pale topic by the country’s top three television networks, especially by the market leader Globo, which often pulls in close to 50 million viewers with its primetime sagas.
Founded in 1965, Globo rose to prominence in the early 1970s. Since then, the network and its so-called “quality standards” have set the tone in Brazil’s TV realm. Globo’s market base is 47%, more than all its major competitors combined, with the network accounting for 75.6% of Brazil’s TV advertising market, estimated at R$ 10,5 billions ($6.7 billion) in 2010. Still, Globo obviously fears alienating its audience.
Despite the fact that homophobia is still an issue in Brazil, the country is slowly becoming more accepting — so much so that Rio de Janeiro’s tourist board reportedly aims to transform the city into the capital of gay tourism, even publishing a glossy, rainbow-colored brochure packed with pictures of muscle-bound men and slogans urging tourists to “come and live the Rio sensation.” It seems to be working — last year, 25% of Rio’s tourists, or around 800,000 people, were gay. Not to mention that according to the last census, Brazil has already 60,000 households with gay couples, a number that will likely continue to grow, since the country’s Supreme Court ruled in May that same-sex civil unions must be recognized by the state (Gilberto Braga, the writer of Insensato Coração, is openly gay and has lived with his partner for several years).
“Rio is a city without prejudice,” Eduardo Paes, the city’s mayor once said. “It is an open city that accepts everything with an open heart.”
Ironically, Globo’s headquarters are located in Rio.
Full article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/andersonantunes/2011/07/22/a-kiss-is-just-a-kiss-not-if-its-a-gay-kiss-on-brazilian-tv/#722c0ee3463f
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