ERIC POLITZER – Los Angeles, California
¡OUT! Las Transformistas of Havana
A celebration of the performers in Havana’s gay cabarets, both male-to-female transgenders and gay female impersonators (many of whom are considering gender reassignment). It celebrates their individuality, creativity, sense of confidence in who they are as individuals, and their pride in being members of a larger community.
The book and series offer a glimpse into a previously underground world, the lives of extraordinarily courageous inhabitants of that world, and a part of Cuba rarely seen to the outside world that is suffused with the colorfulness, sensuality, and conviviality that so commonly are associated with Cuban culture as a whole.
Just as gender-non-conforming individuals have played a critical role in furthering gay rights in the United States as highlighted most dramatically by their role in the Stonewall Riots, so too Las Transformistas has been at the forefront of advancing gay rights in Cuba.
Gay cabarets have fulfilled the role of community centers in Cuba in the absence of any other gay-owned or gay-friendly establishments, such as bars, clubs, bathhouses, restaurants, etc. These cabarets have offered safe and welcoming places for LGTBQ people to gather – and, more importantly – to develop a sense of community.
The cabarets, and the performances that take place there, have played a fundamental role in pushing for gay civil rights and promoting AIDS prevention awareness. And since the cabarets are popular with mainstream society, they have been the one place where LGBTQ and straight people have come together in mutual acceptance and respect.
¡OUT! explores a unique and compelling juncture where gender identity, politics, community mobilization, and artist expression intersect in Cuban culture.