As much as I craved my mother's warm embrace, the smell of the sea and the happy moments that I did share with my partner in our home, I couldn't help but wonder if my homophobic attackers were still around. And that uncertainty - coupled with the fact that our love is still considered a crime there - was my wake-up call.
We've lost those we've never heard of and those we worshipped from afar. The famous and the infamous. Those whose poetry and music and performances and stories and athletic prowess and acts of heroism and sacrifice we admired. We counted on them to help us get through the trials and tribulations of our lives.
Fidel Castro, the Cuban dictator, haunts me still. He haunted me during his life. He haunts me post-mortem as I read about
I am a part of this country. So is my father. So is my mother. Do not erase our experiences. Do not claim that you can separate one aspect of this man from all the others. My family did not escape from under the foot of a dictator to live in a country where its leader praises and celebrates that same dictator.
The problem is that, by monochromatically portraying Fidel Castro simply as a brutal dictator -- full stop -- the western media has had to do pretzel-twists to explain away the reality of why so many people in Cuba, Latin America and, indeed, much of the developing world do see him as an heroic, larger than life figure, whose passing is a cause for sadness while his legacy is reason for celebration.
His tap dancing this week was off beat, and instead of ingratiating himself to both sides he polarized Canadians twice, resulting in ridicule from the right and protests from the left. The polarizing effect Trudeau has initiated will be hard to escape.
Fidel Castro was no saint. He was a cruel dictator who oppressed and terrorized the Cuban people for nearly 50 years. Anybody who remembers him fondly is ignoring his trail of human rights violations, while openly supporting a communist regime.
Thanks to right-wing anti-Cuba propaganda, politicians on the left run for cover when asked for an opinion on Castro. The latest shameful example was furnished by interim NDP Leader Tom Mulcair. Is it any wonder that Justin Trudeau ate the NDP's lunch during the 2015 federal election, and continues to do so?
Fidel Castro will forever be remembered as one of the most controversial figures in modern history, to his many adoring supporters
He was an elusive figure in the last decade.