Greetings from Havana!
So far this month has been an amazing whirlwind. Classes have begun at the University of Havana, we took a weekend IFSA trip to Viñales and I am starting to hit my stride in a new city. Havana is beautiful, warm and welcoming, and compared to every other major city I have lived in, overwhelmingly safe. We are living in a hip area a few blocks away from the university in various casas particulares which are bed and breakfasts where dinner is included and in our case laundry as well. My host parents, Yolanda and Jose are incredibly kind and invested in helping me adjust as well as getting to know me. Yolanda’s cooking is a favorite among all of the IFSA students and I feel so lucky to get to eat it every day. So far my exploration of the city has not reached the lgbtq scene but I’m wading in but by bit. Havana is a socially progressive city in regards to sexuality but as far as visibility goes, gay men are everywhere and lesbians appear non existent. People are vocally very accepting however. Frequently people speak out in support of gay people in casual conversation which I find interesting. I know that CENESEX has done a great deal of work to include all sexualities in their national campaigns for families as well as in service of lgbtq-specific awareness and conversation. I’m keeping my eye out, I have yet to explore all of the malecon, an enormous seawall that is dotted with families, couples, and people of all ages from morning until madrugada, and I have heard that certain cross streets are known as congregations spots for the queer community of Havana.
I’m taking a 400 level sociology of gender class at the university that is absolutely amazing so far. The professor gave us this wild intro during the first class that was a rush through the history of gender studies and its relevance in Havana and I am itching to go to class tomorrow just to hear her speak some more.