Gay Pride Day in Cuba
Gay Pride Day in Cuba
July 2, 2012
HAVANA TIMES — Havana didn't "enjoy" or "suffer" a conga line parade
which the flag of diversity could have waved side by side with that of
the July 26 Movement, the Young Communist League and even banners with
the faces of the Cuban Five.
There was no official Gay Pride Day march on June 28.
Yet the moment wasn't squandered due to government immobility.
Individuals and independent projects of the efflorescent Cuban civil
society generated their own activities, which extended from 5:00 in the
afternoon until around midnight.
The "Proyecto Arcoiris" (the "Rainbow Project," a member of the Critical
Observatory Network) held a "kiss-in" in front of the main Havana bus
terminal. For at least an hour, and with the participation of 20 or so
people, demonstrators engaged in timid kissing – though they promised to
be more "passionate" next year.
Thanks to efforts of that same organization, the documentary Cuerpos y
Fronteras: La ruta (Bodies and Borders: The Journey), by Ecuadorian
director Mary A. Vitteri, was shown and discussed at around 6:30 at the
"La Madriguera" (the main facility of the state-sponsored Asociacion
Hermanos Saiz youth culture organization).
Several people wore costumes as a means of delving into the idea of
other genders, as well as to measure the audience's reaction.
Elsewhere in the city, at the home of bloggers Reinaldo Escobar and
Yoani Sanchez, at 8 pm began the screening of a documentary about the
events of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York, where gays fought back
against a government-sponsored system that persecuted sexual minorities.
This film is essential material for understanding the long road of
resistance and political activism for the recognition of the rights of
homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender people.
As part of the subsequent discussion, LGBT activists Ignacio Estrada and
Wendy Iriepa presented the "Citizen's Petition," which was presented to
the National Assembly of Popular Power that same morning. It seeks the
acceptance and observance of the Jakarta Agreements.
The petition calls for an investigation into all matters relating to the
"Military Units to Aid Production" (UMAP), which were labor camps set up
for a couple of years in the 1960s with aims that included "repairing"
the sexual orientation of gays) and the indictment of those responsible
for that program.
Another of the points about which the petition seeks clarification is
the "state of dangerousness" currently in force in the Cuban Penal Code.
In practice, this classification can make one's sexual orientation a
crime and has contributed to a climate in which there have been violent
deaths of several homosexuals recently.
Finally, the appeal calls for public debate around the forced exiling of
homosexual citizens in past decades.
In short, Gay Pride Day on this island was less than picturesque. The
phase that best fit it was "thought provoking."
Demands such as the legalization of gay marriage and the possibility of
child adoption by gay individuals or couples still loom as battles for
the future in a society still marked by a high degree of homophobia.
What the Cuban LGBT community faces firstly is the need to break with
the conduct of atomized behavior and any pessimism that is capable
weighing down common aims.