Friday, December 7, 2018, 12:00pm to 2:00pm
104 Mt. Auburn Street 3R, Seminar Room
Matthew Leslie Santana: "Transformismo masculino: Black Lesbian Performance in Post-Socialist Cuba"
While gay men and transgender women in Cuba have seen considerable change in the state’s attitude toward sexual diversity over the last ten years, Afrodescendants, lesbian women, and transgender men have been left out of the discourse of Cuba’s “sexual revolution.” This is particularly true in the arena of transformismo or gender performance, where drag queen performance has been embraced by the state while drag king performers—who are predominantly working-class Black lesbian women—continue to struggle to make inroads into the industry. In this paper, I draw on a year of fieldwork among gender performers in Cuba to consider what work is being done by the drag king movement in Havana and Santa Clara. I examine the role of gender performance in providing material support for working-class Black lesbian women, generating (Black) lesbian space in Cuba, and imagining Afro-feminist and -queer social futures that go beyond mainstream discourses of sexual diversity. I suggest that transformismo masculino (drag king performance) constitutes an insurgent form of social critique that has profound resonances for queer movements in Cuba and the hemisphere.
***The paper will be pre-circulated and is available by request to ALARI@fas.harvard.edu***