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It turned out all of them were not gays. I was appalled at the brutal frankness of their approach.

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Can Americans go to Cuba? Yes, they can! Read here. When I looked back, he was alone and smiled when our eyes locked. He came up to me and introduced himself. And just like that, he offered himself. Boy, I was caught off guard. He said his price without me asking it. Oh boy, it was tempting!

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Even in bars, guys would just come up to you when they sense you are fabulous. And toned. While not all of them are into such trade, few were contented to accompany you around. Things to do in Cuba. Malecon is classic.

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The sunset is stunning and romantic. It never fails to amaze you, unless, of course, a rain threatens the late afternoon spectacle. Or just sit there but let your eyes wander around. Make eye contact and the rest will be history. At night, the intersection at Malecon and the hill where Nacional Hotel sits atop is the main thoroughfare of young partygoers.

Few steps from the seawall are rows of bars with shows, cabarets and DJs playing. Most of them charge 3CUC, a hefty amount for Cuban standard. He was alone so he loved a company. The show was ok, with a lot of fashion disasters. Stand outside the cinema in the afternoon and make eye contact. I stayed at the hostel at that time. Sit on one of the benches there. Just like any public cruising place, make an eye contact. If they stare back at you, wait until they come to your highness.

If they wink, give them your welcoming smile. Take a taxi and say its name, the driver surely knows it. They seek out foreigners, charging them between 20 and 50 convertible pesos. As the stories of Triana and Bermudez show, poverty is one of the factors driving young men as well as women to become sex workers. One young man who gave his name as Roco said that initially, he became a pinguero because he needed the money, but he has carried on so that he can afford to take girlfriends out.

Psychologist Pavel O. This article first appeared on IWPR's website. For some young men, the sex trade offers an income unavailable in the rest of the cash-strapped economy. Alexander Robles. Some pingueros have come out as homosexual, while others insist they are heterosexual. She says she has never seen so many adolescent sex workers as there are now.

Gay Havana: exploring the Cuban capital's classic cars & beautiful boys

Tweet Widget Facebook Like. Speaking Out: The Cuban Association of Gays was formed in , during a thaw in relations between gays and the state, but disbanded in after its members were arrested. On the other hand, I watched a popular Cuban sitcom with a male character in drag. A state-run soap opera, La otra cara de la luna The Other Side of the Moon , features an openly gay character in a relationship with another man.

During the annual Havana Film Festival, held each December, many of the films have gay themes, and their posters can be seen in public. And just last year, Cuba elected its first transgender person to public office in the province of Villa Clara. There is also a well-known gay-themed party, 10 Pesos named for the cost of entry , which takes place in or around Havana every Saturday, if you know where to find it.

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So was designer Jean Paul Gaultier. Some of the locals were beaten. I had been to a straight nightclub on a previous visit at which a gay comedian performed in drag. He was a big hit with the young people, who were mostly in their late-teens and 20s. But ask some of the slightly older crowd about gay life and they frown. Cuban women can be particularly outspoken about their dislike of homosexuality, yet they will happily show you pictures of their friends on their cellphones and ask you to guess which are the real women and which the travestis.

On La Rampa, you might experience a bewildering moment looking at all the attractive, fashionable young people and wonder which ones are gay. Those are the straight ones out for an evening of fun. The gay boys will approach you only once they see you looking around.

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If you say chicos, they will smile and offer their services. I tell them I just want to ask some questions. He would be taken away in handcuffs and fined, he tells me. For soliciting. Then I looked up and saw two police officers heading toward me. I continued walking.

He answered with one word: Another night, he and his cruising buddy took me around trying to find a happening gay bar. We tried several places, all filled with straight couples. Even without the fight for queer rights, life in Cuba is not enviable.