Fidel Castro has always posed a problem for gay leftists. On the one hand, he constantly wins accolades from the American left for his efforts to change Cuba while constantly being a thorn in the side of the United States.* But, on the other, his regime has been perhaps the greatest persecutor of gay people in the Western Hemisphere.
Not only did this demagogue oppose state recognition of same-sex marriage, but he also sent Cuban gays away to labor camps where they suffered under inhuman conditions and were often tortured.
Now, the former chief executive of the world’s largest island prison, claims he was just “too busy” to prevent his henchman from persecuting gays:
Continuing his image rehabilitation campaign, ex-Cuban President Fidel Castro called the rampant homophobia in the initial stages of his revolution a “great injustice.”
During an interview with La Jornada, Castro said that while he was not prejudiced against gays, the blame for the homophobic atmosphere lay only with himself. He claims that he was “too busy” with other matters — such as trying to survive U.S. assassination attempts — to deal with the discriminatory policies.
As Mark Hemingway who alerted me to the article reminds us, Mr. Castro suffers from an affliction common to American Democrats, notably Barbara Boxer, remembering things the way he wants them to have been, not the way they were:
I had a feeling some in the media might be overeager to forgive Castro, but some basic questioning of the official version of the Cuban government’s claims might be in order. For one thing, persecution of gays appears to have persisted well past the “initial stages” of the Cuban revolution.
He’s right; it wasn’t just the initial stages of the “revolution.” Just follow the story of Reinaldo Arenas, the subject of the 2000 movie, Before Night Falls.
Now that Castro has apologized — and his actions directly led to the real persecution , the real suffering, of gay people — I wonder if some gay leftists will more readily rush to accept his apology than they did that of Ken Mehlman — a man responsible for suffering only in the minds of those eager to blame all gay peoples’ woes on Republicans.