Oh, hey, Cuba.
I hear we’re talking again.
Thanks to President Obama and his historic move toward normalizing relations with the United States and your island nations, things are starting to change. And perhaps the best part of all this is watching Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) throw a tantrum over it and try to defend a Soviet-era policy that worked SO well for the administrations of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, H.W. Bush, Clinton, W. Bush.
What’s changing exactly? Bank accounts, unfrozen. Charge cards, swipe away. Cigars, light ’em up. Travel and tourism, well, not yet, but come on, it’s inevitable, though, right?
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And you should be preparing now, Cuba. How? Think of American tourists like strippers. Do you want the by-the-airport kind? Or would you rather have the high-class, for senators-and-basketball-players kind? Court the latter, and court the gay tourist. Frankly, it’s your only way to avoid Cuba turning into another Cancun, where drunken sorority girls desecrate the white sandy beaches with all sorts of straight shenanigans that would make their daddy’s skin crawl. Do we really want Havana Harbor crowded with cruise ships filled with Bermuda shorts-clad tourists practically being rolled down the gangways. Nobody wants that.
So, again, court the gay tourist.
Trust me, gays are willing to forgive and (semi-)forget a lot of things. Like that pesky Mariel Boatlift, where Fidel Castro emptied out his jails and prisons and dumped these people into the ocean and pointed them toward Florida. Well, many of these men were gay, either in prison for that or trying to leave an oppressive society. Well, your loss, our gain there, but we are willing to move past all this. And to show you have good humor about it, why not open up a gay bar called Mariel’s Boatlift? Have Mariel be some big, welcoming drag queen at the front door? I’d go.
And that’s just one suggestion, but the number of gay bars already in Cuba surprised me. Here’s a sample:
Cabaret Las Vegas: Described as “state run.” Well, that could be interesting. (Infanta #104, e/ 25 y 27, Vedado. Tel: (+53) 7-870-7939; open daily 10 p.m.-4 a.m.)
Fashion Bar Havana: “Queer meets camp” at this establishment. (San Juan de Dios, esq. a Aguacate, Habana Vieja; Tel: (+53) 7-867-1676; open Saturdays 9 p.m.-4 a.m.)
Cafe Fortuna: This one intrigues me the most. “There are ancient typewriters, radios, and other curios hanging from the walls, a bathtub for two (they lay a board across it for easy access to your cocktails).” Sign me up. (Avenida 3ra, esq. a 28, Miramar; open daily 8 a.m.-10 p.m.)
Again, Cuba, court the gay tourist. These bars sound awesome. Frankly, I’m willing to try any club that is “state run” simply for the camp factor. And that’s not to say that gay tourists can’t be complete bears at times (see what I did there?). At our worst, we want that half-caff soy latte, and we want it now. At our best, we are kind and considerate travelers who appreciate both the nightlife, the history, the native culture.
The best part though? We travel with money. And we travel sans kids — but get us now before that part changes, too.