offers an intimate look inside part of Cuban life rarely seen by foreign
visitors. As far as my research has shown me, this is the first book dedicated
to the Transformistas in Cuba; and it is the first fine art photography book to
document the Transformistas in any Latin country.
history gay cabarets
have fulfilled the role of community centers in Cuba in the absence of any gay
establishments, such as bars, clubs, bathhouses, restaurants, etc. The cabarets
have offered safe and welcoming places for LGTBQ people to gather – and, more
importantly – to develop a sense of community. The cabarets, and the
performances that take place there, have played a critical role in pushing for
gay civil rights and promoting AIDS prevention awareness. Also, since the
cabarets are popular with mainstream society, they have been the one place
where LGBTQ and straight people have come together regularly in mutual
acceptance and respect.
¡OUT! Las Transformistas of Havana essentially is a coming out story. It begins
with photos of the Transformistas in the safe iindoors and then it moves the Transformistas
out into public -- and sometimes iconic -- locations in Havana for
the first time. This coming out of the cabarets or the closeted existence of
home is a form of empowerment: the Transformistas were claiming their right to
be seen as they truly are in the same places where all other people from
Havana can go freely.
The book is also a coming out for
the LGBTQ community in Cuba. There has not been a great deal published
photographically on the gradual emergence of the LGBTQ community. This book
helps to introduce the rest of the world to a diverse and increasingly visible
Although the constellation of
external struggles that the Transformistas in Havana may be unique to Cuba,
their personal journey to authentic self-realization and participation in a
larger community is common to marginalized groups everywhere.
I have spent a large part of my
professional life working with and as an advocate for people outside the social
mainstream. I have been inspired by their pride, their fighting spirit, and
their willingness to sacrifice so much so that their brothers and sisters can
achieve social justice and full inclusion in the fabric of their communities.
So to that end, ¡OUT! Las Transformistas of Havana is also a coming out for me: the book is my personal love letter to
LGBTQ people anywhere in the world who feel invisible, excluded, denigrated,
persecuted or other made to seem less worthy than you really are. In celebrating
the Transformistas of Havana, I also honor you and everything you have to offer
to your community.
Public recognition and on display:
* Two images from the book currently are part of a show at Fabrica, Havana's new, multidisciplinary gallery space.
* Two images from the book will be shown beginning in September in Malaga, Spain as part of the International Biennial of Photography.
* Images from the book won a Bronze Award in the Photo Essay category from the OneEyeland Awards.
* Two images from the book won in the Best People and Portrait category in the Worldwide Photography Awards.
Why Kickstarter? I wanted the book literally to
embody the spirit and flair of the Transformistas. So I created a limited
edition fine art book that is quite costly to produce. All expenses to date
have been out of my own pocket, ranging from multiple trips to Cuba to the
actual book design. I do not expect to recoup any of this, which is totally
I need to raise $40,000 in addition
to the projected sales revenues to make the book a reality. I am asking the
Kickstarter community to get me at least to the $20,000 mark. Full funding of
the project will allow me to do two special things:
1. Keep the eventual retail price
as low as I can so as many people as possible can afford the book. I am
very mindful that many members of the communities represented in the book face
formidable challenges in gaining decent paying jobs. So I do not want to price
them out of the market. The more support the project receives the lower I can
price the book.
2. I very much want copies of this
book to be made available to transgender organizations, LGBTQ community
centers, and gender studies programs at colleges and universities.
Supporters of this campaign at the $350 level and above have the opportunity to
have a copy of the book donated in their name to a organization or school of
Risks and challenges
All the work on the book is complete. Now it is a matter of getting it printed and packaged in a beautiful, collectible presentation. I have selected an outstanding company to produce the book. It is possible that there could be short delays in various stages of the print process. I tried to take this into consideration in the delivery schedule for the books: I hope to have the book done and delivered to me by late September, but I am not committing to sending the book out to supporters until October in case of any such delays.
My work does require me to travel a fair amount. If any last minute travel obligations arise that would create any delay in getting rewards to supports, I will notify you immediately.
I intend to take great care in packaging rewards to supporters. If anything arrives damaged, I certainly will replace that it.