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Gay Pride Day in Cuba

Gay Pride Day in Cuba

July 2, 2012

Daisy Valera

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.



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