Below you will find a recent interview with our team member Andres Junior. His insights both on this page and in Havana can enlighten us all!.
-When you first meet travelers from other countries what is it about your country of Cuba that you feel is the most important to have them learn?
I think history and culture, because behind almost everything there's a story of how we grew and how we are now as a society. Even the Cuban cocktails are part of our history, so you are drinking a Daiquiri, and me as a tour-guide can´t help to tell the story of who created the Daiquiri, when and how they made it popular, and of course, not only the past, also the present because that conversation would be in a private restaurant with the explanation of life and work in Cuba nowadays and people's expectations...it's like a chain, one topic is related to the other, so speaking of history, I end up also speaking about how is life for the Cubans nowadays, what are the expectations, and sometimes there is also a cultural product to use as example. And when I say history and culture I don't mean it like a class in school, it's like a peripatetic lesson during a whole stroll around town.
2-What do you hear from visitors that they are most surprised about the Cuban culture?
About our happiness, or at least our enthusiasm. Of course it's understandable that we have a crazy sense of humor that's responsible for our surviving. Once they take a big bite or a sense of what has happened, what's going on and what do we want and need but still we don't have and such, they just end up saying something like "but everybody looks happy and seem to be enjoying themselves; there is music all around, dancing, nobody's in a rush, there's art in every corner"...
3-Why do you think it is important for you to share your life experience with travelers?
Because if I talk about my life and my hopes and such, people will have a sense of what it's like to be Cuban through the eyes of a young man that was born in the late 80ies and grew up during the special period and is experiencing the change of the country's heart. Also, they will be sharing with someone who didn't leave the island and believes in a better future, and writes, and paints and talks about it freely, without fears...and I always say to myself, if I ever visit other country, I'd like to have someone talking to me about his or her life so I can have a better sense of the place where I'm. And also because at the end of the day, we are all the same and no matter where country or culture we are from, there are so many human aspects that never change, and from those common grounds we start the journey.
4-We know art is your passion. What can you share about art in Cuba that is the most impressive?
Tough one. Well, in Cuba like any other country (I guess) we have very good art and very bad art, but again, good and bad, even impressive it´s a matter of point of view. There are places like Fusterland and the Fábrica de Arte Cubano (The art factory is how I call it) that I think they're a must do once in Cuba. The Museum of Fine Arts and Jazz Clubs like Zorra y el Cuervo or the Jazz Café. I always try to keep my people away from the reguetón, but the reguetón is like an invasion, it's all around, and that's an expression of the decadency and the crisis of values that we are experiencing as a country that failed trying to become everybody equal, which, for human nature itself, it's not possible. So I try to take people where the real cuban music is, where the real highlights of the cuban painting is, and to those spaces in between that are creating a little bit of history step by step, like independent artists and galleries, petit concerts of independent bands and performers. I wish they could see the plays but the language of theatre has too much Spanish and that's a barrier for most of the tourist.
5-Being a gay man in Cuba is.....
Not a big deal anymore...Years ago it was way different, but nowadays the influence of the rest of the world through Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and the rest of the social medias, people are more open, more civilized. Also the National Center of Sexual Education has done its part and has brought to the television the topic and they've been talking about it, but of course, there is a long way ahead and we still have a lot of homophobia. Anyways you see a lot of gay couples in the streets, and gay bars (not that many and not that good, but...) and a lot of straight people hanging out with gay friends because it is also a step forward, it´s a civilized way of thinking, "the European mind", that's how they call it, so they embrace it as a little and snobbish attempt of development. And that's something impressive, even for the tourists. I live my life with no fear, in fact, I'm very open about my gayness without being flamboyant and I'm not a fan of ghettos, I mean, gay places, I prefer those places where the gays and the straights coexist in harmony and have a feed back and improve themselves by sharing ideas and points of view, and that's how I live my life. Also, I must confess that I´m lucky to have a very supportive family and friends, that helps a lot. But nowadays people in the closet are like a joke and everybody asks, why to be in the closet at this point of our history? Cuba has never been this flexible, so we better take advantage of that and let us be ourselves.
6-From your experience what is the best day to spend with a visitor around Havana?
It depends on the visitor's interests, but from Thursday to Saturday is the best. There are more cultural options, more things going on, more people out and such.
7- What do walk away with after meeting and spending time with visitors to your country?
Their point of view. I'm a writer and a journalist myself, so I love having different points of views to be able to compare and have a better opinion, description, perspective and sense of the things that are there every day for me and for that, sometimes taken for granted.
The appreciation. As I said before, so many things you pass by everyday without even noticing, and then, people from other countries make you look, and appreciate, and that makes me want to learn more and more.
The cultural exchange, that's super important for me as a person who has never been out of Cuba, remember, I'm Out in Cuba (just kidding). And even if I'd have traveled before, it is always a great chance to talk to people from other countries and share experiences and knowledges.
And sometimes, the wonderful feeling of making a new friend, this je ne sais quoi that you get after saying good bye, this tickling in the chest telling you that you are lucky for having met nice people, people you want to keep in your life in spite of the distance, and this sense of hope that you get from them, because yes, there are still good people in the world, and we are being connected with each other.
1. You and your partner check into your hotel and the hotel assumes you want two beds. WOOPS!!!
2. You just want to go experience restaurants and clubs where LGBTQ guests are welcome and having a great time. You are welcome and feel it!
3. You want to meet other LGBTQ Cubans, to better understand their history and culture. Go Dancing and experience the vibrant culture of CUBA
4. You are a professional LGBTQ journalist. We have the contacts for you.
5. We have the best connections in the film world. Production. Locals. Just ask.
6. We have one of the leading LGBTQ activists on our staff. Not only a great friend and Host, but we want to support him so that he can further work on LGBTQ equality and rights.
7. We are connected with some of the finest artists in Cuba. We offer exclusive opportunities to visit artist studios. We offer two tours. One for people that want to buy and one for people that just want to experience and see the vibrant art that Cuba has to offer.
8. All of our guides are LGBTQ. They understand the culture and history of Cuba.
9. We offer you the security of being able to pick up the phone or email us here in the USA and discuss what changes you want to make and or any issues that you may have.
With our last visit to the island we made some great LGBTQ contacts. If seeing Cuba from an LGBTQ perspective is what you are seeking than we can offer you that experience. Below you will see some photos from our recent tour. Of course that was with 11 guests. YIKES! We prefer one or two or four. Out new mantra is no more than can fit into a taxi! Of course we are able to lead large groups also..Just ask us!
We experienced some great clubs in Havana that showcase the best Cuban LGBTQ talent…and lasted until late into the night! That Latin energy is so much fun!
For those of you are very interested in LGBTQ history and culture in Cuba, we have made it our goal to offer you an exclusive experience that will enrich your knowledge of Cuba and how the lives of LGBTQ folks are changing and how you can help and support them.
All of our tours are non-sexual.
All of the tours listed on the "Book a Tour" page are LGBTQ friendly. If there are certain sites and museums that you would like to experience in Cuba, please let us know.
Call us for more info and to plan your time in Cuba:
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OUR CUBA TOURS ARE THERE FOR YOU
Your Cuban born LGBTQ Host will welcome you at the airport with a smile and the knowledge you are experiencing a new culture that sometimes can be challenging for the LGBTQ community. In supporting our tour hosts we also support the quest for LGBTQ equality in Cuba. ......We like that!!!!