During only a few months in 1980, 125,000 Cubans entered the
United States as part of a massive migration known as the Mariel
boatlift. The images of boats of all sizes, in various conditions,
filled with Cubans of all colors and ages, triggered a media storm.
Fleeing Cuba's repressive government, many homosexual men and women
arrived in the United States only to face further obstacles. Deemed
"undesirables" by the U.S. media, the Cuban state, and Cuban
Americans already living in Miami, these new entrants marked a
turning point in Miami's Cuban American and gay histories.
In Oye Loca, Susana Peña investigates a moment of
cultural collision. Drawing from first-person stories of Cuban
Americans as well as government documents and cultural texts from
both the United States and Cuba, Peña reveals how these discussions
both sensationalized and silenced the gay presence, giving way to a
Cuban American gay culture. Through an examination of the diverse
lives of Cuban and Cuban American gay men, we learn that Miami's
gay culture was far from homogeneous. By way of in-depth
interviews, participant observation, and archival analysis, Peña
shows that the men who crowded into small apartments together,
bleached their hair with peroxide, wore housedresses in the street,
and endured ruthless insults challenged what it meant to be Cuban
Making a critical incision through the study of
heteronormativity, homosexualities, and racialization, ultimately
Oye Loca illustrates how a single historical event helped
shape the formation of an entire ethnic and sexual landscape.
Subjects: History, Sociology
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