The documentary film Sexile seeks to build an archive of Cuban queer memory in the diaspora through oral history and the analysis of various cultural texts (performances, poems, photos, magazines, etc.) that will contribute to making the stories visible of around 20 000 "Marielitos", the name given to the Cuban immigrants that left Cuba from the Port of Mariel in 1980. In addition to emphasizing the cultural resistance of the Cuban "sexiles, "how I call to those who have had to leave their nation of origin on account of their sexual orientation. I also intend to reveal the influence of the social action carried out by some of these immigrants in strengthening the Latino LGBTQ community in cities such as Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Minneapolis.
Therefore, my goal is to create a dialogue between several survivors of that "sexile" and the exodus's cultural memory that has survived through other materials. To date, I have reviewed a significant portion of archival material in key locales in order to begin to map the whole exodus. I am seeking funding in order to continue the process of interviewing and collecting data. The creation of this archive is urgent because the LGBTQ Marielito's population is aging and many of them already died during the AIDS crisis.
As most of the research on the subject argues, the Mariel boatlift became a great mode of escape for lesbians, gays, bi, trans, and intersexuals who had suffered continual repression, imprisonment, and labor restrictions in Cuba during the first two decades of the revolution. As is well known, during that period, the government identified homosexuals as leftover vices from the capitalist period, and, therefore, they were seen as the antithesis to that idea of the "New Man" developed by Ché Guevara and the Cuban Revolution.
Up until late September 1980, U.S. laws excluded immigrants who declared themselves to be gay, so the arrival of many openly homosexual "Marielitos" was a problem for the government. For that reason, queer Marielitos could not always openly identify as such, which made them an invisible community in the historical record. Many of them also spent a long time in resettlement camps inside the United States, such as Fort McCoy in Wisconsin. Though barely referenced within the "official history," this experience was undoubtedly significant for those who lived through it.