She has also made important contributions as a lesbian activist, co-founding projects such as Medusa's Revenge, the first lesbian theater in New York, the direct action group The Lesbian Avengers, Dyke TV, and The Gully online magazine.
Ana María Simo was born in Cienfuegos, Cuba in 1943, and moved to Havana with her grandmother on the eve of the 1959 revolution. She was 15 when she began working as a journalist and 18 when her first book was published: Las fábulas (The Fables), a short story collection. The book was published by Ediciones El Puente, a literary and publishing project (1961 to 1965) which Simo co-directed along with its founder, the poet José Mario Rodríguez.
Simo immigrated first to Paris (Dec. 1967), where she attended Roland Barthes’ seminar and studied sociology and linguistics at the University of Paris VIII-Vincennes (1968-1972). In the mid-1970s she settled in New York, where she began her career as an English-language writer. Her association with playwright/director Maria Irene Fornes’ theater workshop throughout the 1980s was pivotal in her development as a writer.
Some of her most notable works includes her 1990 play "Going to New England" produced at the INTAR theater. The New York Time's Stephen Holden gave the production mixed reviews, but also wrote that the play itself succeeded as "a study in physical and emotional claustrophobia" examining the traditions of Latin American machismo, Roman Catholic values, and erotic taboos.
Ana Maria Simo, 1990, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1125711)
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)Simo's "The Bad Play," a 1991 dance-theater collaboration with choreographer Stephanie Skura, also reviewed in The New York Times, was described as "a very broad and very funny parody" of the Hispanic soap opera with philandering doctors and cantankerous mothers-in-law.
Her 1989 short film, How to Kill Her, with Ela Troyano, premiered at the Lesbian and Gay Experimental Film Festival and later went on to win first place in The Latino Film and Video Festival.
Simo's work has mainly been produced in New York City by venues including P.S. 122, Theater for the New City, INTAR Hispanic American Arts Center, the New York Shakespeare Festival's Latino Festival, Duo Theatre, and the WOW Café.
Simo immigrated to Paris in time to participate in the student revolution of May 1968. Shortly afterwards, she participated in women's and lesbian/gay activist groups for the first time, including the Gouines Rouges (Red Dykes), the MLF (Mouvement de Libération des Femmes), and the FHAR (Front homosexuel d´action révolutionnaire).
In 1976 in New York, she co-founded the lesbian theater Medusa's Revenge with actor and director Magaly Alabau. In her book, Stagestruck: Theater, AIDS, and the Marketing of Gay America, Sarah Schulman writes,
"It is hard to find primary lesbian content on stage by an un-closeted writer before "Fefu and Her Friends" by Maria Irene Fornes in 1977. Or maybe it was Corinne Jacker's "Harry Outside" at the Circle Repertory Company in 1975. But, although each was sealed with a passionate kiss, both of these plays contained their lesbian content in subplots. Lesbian content was primary on stage at Medusa's Revenge at 10 Bleecker Street, the first theater in the world willing to produce our work."In 1992, Simo co-founded the direct action group The Lesbian Avengers with longtime lesbian activists Maxine Wolfe, Anne-Christine d'Adesky, Sarah Schulman, Marie Honan, and Anne Maguire. The original group's sole stated focus: "Lesbian survival and visibility." The Lesbian Avengers inspired chapters worldwide. One of its long-term accomplishments is the annual Dyke March in New York City.
Shortly afterwards, along with video producer Mary Patierno and theater director Linda Chapman, she created Dyke TV. The half-hour television program produced by lesbians, for lesbians was aired on Public-access television across the United States for more than a decade. It included a mix of news, political commentary, the arts, health, and sports.
Simo also co-founded The Gully online magazine (2000-2006) with writer and activist Kelly Cogswell, "to encourage activism and redefine and expand gay issues." It offered queer views of international news, U.S. politics, activism, race, class, LGBT issues, and included a Spanish edition.
Sexual Revolutions in Cuba: Passion, Politics, and Memory (Envisioning Cuba) by Carrie Hamilton
Series: Envisioning Cuba
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press (March 12, 2012)
Amazon: Sexual Revolutions in Cuba: Passion, Politics, and Memory
Amazon Kindle: Sexual Revolutions in Cuba: Passion, Politics, and Memory
In Sexual Revolutions in Cuba Carrie Hamilton delves into the relationship between passion and politics in revolutionary Cuba to present a comprehensive history of sexuality on the island from the triumph of the Revolution in 1959 into the twenty-first century. Drawing on an unused body of oral history interviews as well as press accounts, literary works, and other published sources, Hamilton pushes beyond official government rhetoric and explores how the wider changes initiated by the Revolution have affected the sexual lives of Cuban citizens. She foregrounds the memories and emotions of ordinary Cubans and compares these experiences with changing policies and wider social, political, and economic developments to reveal the complex dynamic between sexual desire and repression in revolutionary Cuba.
Showing how revolutionary and prerevolutionary values coexist in a potent and sometimes contradictory mix, Hamilton addresses changing patterns in heterosexual relations, competing views of masculinity and femininity, same-sex relationships and homophobia, AIDS, sexual violence, interracial relationships, and sexual tourism. Hamilton's examination of sexual experiences across generations and social groups demonstrates that sexual politics have been integral to the construction of a new revolutionary Cuban society.
More Particular Voices at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Particular Voices
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