El Mejunje has become a relevant part of Santa Clara´s vital system. Nobody knows what it would be without The Mejunje. Not even the city wants to know because it doesn´t remember how to live without the Silverio´s clear madness.
On these days, when the Cuban Activities against Homophobia and Transphobia return to Santa Clara, it is quite important to talk about one of the most polemics parts of El Mejunje, but also one of the most humane one among the work done since its founding.
From the beginning, El Mejunje has been a space for LGBTI people. Was there a purpose on your part that it was this way or did it happen naturally, as did other marginalized minorities?
I believe that none of this was in the founding activity of the Mejunje, although it was always a space for everyone, so that people who felt excluded in other places began to nucleate around it.
In the year 84 the only entertainment activity for young people was the so-called “Círculos Juveniles” to which the supposed good young people acceded, and one of the best things that they had was to see how people jumped the fence and violated the regulations to be able to enter.
El Mejunje emerges as a countercurrent, as it has always been. From these recreational alternatives and gay, lesbian and other groups have come closer and proposing their own vision of culture, El Mejunje started moving forward.
The drag queen shows began in 1992, during a tribute to Freddy Mercuri in which we asked people to come disguised and it was a reason for trans people to dress as a woman. From that night, I was asked permission to make a show, which in those early moments was an imitation of the TV program “Contact” guided by Raquel Mayedo.
During those years appears the Aids and the sanatorium in Santa Clara. It was a time of marginalization and very strong stigma, but when those people came to ask me for a space, I said yes.
I think El Mejunje was a place ahead of everything. When you see movies like “Fátima o el Parque de la Fraternidad”, you realize that when the police still removed the wigs from the cross dressers in Havana, at the same time we were opening a place where everyone knew they were a big audience.
What was the reaction of the city to a place with these characteristics?
There were always very open minded people who did not care and came even though they had nothing to do with it. They said in their houses we’ll see you in the place! So that no one would know that they were coming here.
I think the detractors of the Mejunje never came, they did not know it, and that helped to create a mystery, an aura around Mejunje, which was the best because those places that people do not talk about, neither good nor bad are almost always boring places.
The seriousness of our cultural proposals saved us and, in addition, the passing through Santa Clara of great artists that came to the Mejunje and later they made known to us.
On the other hand, I have always thanked the press who joined even in the hardest times, when the war was from within culture, and the leaders of that time who became friends of the place and believed in a place when it still did no signals for that.
How much has El Mejunje contributed to Santa Clara becoming more and more a city without discrimination towards LGBT people?
I think the contribution has been enormous: to the city, the province and the country. El Mejunje did what was not political at that time and now it is, because we have always been out of fashion in that sense.
Those who come here are part of a social class, a class that includes everyone. If a transsexual has problems with others in the park, they will have trouble with all these people because they identify her as from here.
In addition we have taken the battles of the LGBT community to the street that is where battles are won because we do nothing to continue putting this inside the Mejunje if those who come here are not homophobic.
We have the show “Me incluyo” in rural areas dealing with the issue of difference and it has been highly awarded in the Cuban theater. It is a chicken that is thrown with two eggs and the father has encrypted his hopes that one of them is going to be the great cock but when leaving is a small chicken with another color. In the end, although the chicken has to leave because the father makes his life impossible, he returns as a circus star and the father accepts it.
We also made the first parade against homophobia and transphobia about six years ago without asking anyone’s permission, touching four cans around the park and now people call me to ask when the next one is.
People have strongly joined and even they share a country idea, some even have tattooed the concoction “El Mejunje is my country”, as well that something will have this place. It is a space where there has been a lot of freedom to be free of all censorship. I think El Mejunje is like a rehearsal of what society should be in the future: an inclusive society where everyone is respected.