Thursday, June 17, 2004

Sexuality in the Sunset of Life

Walter Lippmann -- a writer, photographer, and activist who moderates a listserv CubaNews -- made available an excerpt from one of the new books showcased at the Havana International Book Fair this year: Regino Rodríguez Boti, La Sexualidad en el Atardecer de la Vida [Sexuality in the Sunset of Life] (Santiago de Cuba: Editorial Oriente, 2003). Boti -- the grandson of a prominent Cuban poet Regino Eladio Boti -- is a psychiatrist with a master's degree in sexology. The excerpt concerns the subject of homosexuality in Cuba, translated by Ana Portela for CubaNews readers. Read the excerpt at

In the excerpt, I've found the section on "Lesbinianism and Old Age" especially thought-provoking. Boti suggests that, despite the interlocking system of oppressions based upon gender and sexuality that make lesbians' lives more difficult than gay men's and straight women's in many respects, lesbians may possess strengths that gay men and straight women do not enjoy in the sunset of their lives:
Lesbians seem to live old age under better conditions than the gays and, at times, better than some heterosexual women whose marriages prevented creating or conserving strong links with other women. Regarding the gays, the lesbians have ah advantage that, generally women do not consider youth or physical beauty with the supreme values of the rest; women are not socialized to demand the elements of physical beauty above other values when choosing a partner or falling in love. For this reason elderly lesbians can fall in love, find a partner and be desired by other women at an age that is barred for the gays. Also, the elderly lesbians are not always alone, they have more social resources to live those years; women live longer than men, therefore lesbians can live with their partner and with friends until advanced ages, a time in which heterosexual women have become widows and the gays have lost their partner or their contemporaries.

On the other hand, the invisibility that accompanies lesbians throughout their live may be a factor that permits two women to live together in their home or visit each other or sleep over or travel together without too much social criticism. It is a time of life that the pressure of the environment is especially vulnerable.

Another favorable factor is the quality of life of the elderly lesbians who, throughout their lives, like the rest of women in general, have protected their family ties much more than the gays and, to some extent, much more than heterosexual men. As a result loneliness and isolation affects them less. (Regino Rodríguez Boti, 2003)
I'd love to see autobiographies, oral histories, thick ethnographic descriptions, and quantitative sociological studies on this topic.

By the way, Regino Eladio Boti published a number of erotic poems. The hottest one may be "Agarena" [A Muslim Woman]:

Pelo corto y negro, (toca
que ata cinta colorada)
voz que un sortilegio evoca,
ojos de sierpe encantada,

frente fugitiva, y boca
grande como una cortada,
dan expresión a su loca
cara de niña taimada.

Con lujurias inconstantes,
cual sus arrancadas hiantes
tiembla, humano cascabel,

cuando su cuerpo crepita
hecho una llama maldita
bajo mi espasmo cruel.

24 octubre 1915

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