Reinaldo Arenas' Transformative Revolution

Enrique Morales-Diaz


While Roberto Fernández Retamar, in his post-colonial essay "Caliban: Notes Toward a Discussion of Culture in Our America" (1989) poses the question: "Does a Latin American culture exist?" (3), Reinaldo Arenas asks and attempts to answer the following: Does a homosexual exist in the Cuban culture that promotes non-divergence from the postulated male-female gender behavior? More importantly, he will ask: do I exist? Fernández Retamar's argument emphasizes the postcolonial conditions under which many Latin American countries continue to exist, focusing his discussions on the differentiation between the center and the periphery. It can be argued, then, that Reinaldo Arenas' writing stems from the nature of Fernández Retamar's deduction regarding questions of postcolonial existence, which will lead Arenas to analyze the place of the homosexual subject within the center/periphery dichotomy.
Another contention discussed in Fernández Retamar's essay focuses on the issues of language, its connection to the colonizers and the impact it has had on the "developing" cultures of Latin American nations (5). Notwithstanding, his debate also corresponds to the demands placed on Cuban artists and writers to utilize their craft to promote the development of a revolutionary social consciousness by adapting the "language" of the Revolution. As Fidel Castro states, those who supported the Revolution had every right within the system, those that did not had no rights at all. To understand the struggles that Reinaldo Arenas attempted to overcome through his writing, having rejected the regime's demands for conformity and "existing" as a homosexual writer, the iconic symbol of the post-colonial movements, Caliban, can best symbolize the writer's own agenda, particularly emphasizing the development of a counter-discourse that sought to de-construct the "official story" that marginalized and oppressed all non-conformists whom a "colonizer" deemed inferior, thus creating a "colonized subject." This paper seeks to answer the following question: What is the ideological commonality that connects Caliban and Reinaldo Arenas, the homosexual writer?


Reinaldo Arenas; Counter-discourse; Revolution

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