A Decade Against Homophobia, or, It Seems Like Yesterday
by Francisco Rodriguez Cruz, from his blog
A CubaNews translation by Walter Lippmann.
Time passes and people are getting old. Not me, of course. From next week we will be back in the center of the maelstrom of another Cuban Day against Homophobia, the tenth. Amazing.
It seems like it was yesterday when I was filled with astonishment and excitement at the Pabellón Cuba in 2008, and I listened for the first time to other gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, transvestite people, speaking in public – and loudly – about what was always hidden before In Cuba: our lives and problems.
I did not dream at the time to have this blog – I was short a little more than a year and a half to its birth – nor could I assume that I would have the opportunity to approach first and be a part of the organizing committee of these celebrations from 2010.
With that experience, so intense that makes it difficult to discriminate between the greater relevance of one fact or another, I propose what will undoubtedly be an incomplete selection of moments or key contributions by each of the previous Cuban Conferences against Homophobia and Transphobia .
I must admit that, at the beginning, I thought of doing so only from my (bad) memory, as well as from a review of the texts I wrote in this blog and the photographs I had kept; But then I realized that was not enough.
Memories are often imprecise. I ran the risk of mixing some events and details from year to year. So I took the trouble to check each event with the reports of the Cuban and foreign press that I kept throughout these ten years.
I should also like to thank Dr. Mariela Castro, director of the National Center for Sex Education, who agreed to review a first version of this chronological summary and made several pertinent suggestions to enrich it.
Although I tried to emphasize the elements of newness or rupture in each annual edition, it is very probable that even in this selection there are issues or nuances that someone might also consider important or central. I invite you to propose and add.
I am sure that we could enrich even more this brief tour for this first decade of the day, based on the experiences that each one keeps.
My humble intention is for everyone to remember and treasure for themselves, their first, most intimate or revealing participation in this endeavor, result of the work, persistence, creativity and daring of so many good people.
We will see each other from 3 to 20 May at the Tenth Cuban Conference against Homophobia and Transphobia.
- On May 17, a group of people from the LGBTI community walk from the National Center for Sex Education along with its director, Mariela Castro, and specialists from that institution to the 23rd and 12th capital city, where the American film Boys Don’t Cry, (1999) was shown. It was the first celebration in Cuba of the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia.
- With the presence of Ricardo Alarcón, then president of the Cuban Parliament, the first Cuban Conference against Homophobia and Transphobia was opened, and where it would still be its main headquarters in Havana: Cuba Pavilion.
- The first Gala Against Homophobia in the Astral theater theater brought together dozens of transformista [crossdresser] artists, an unprecedented event in an “official” stage of the Island.
- It began the monthly cineclub Diferente cultural project, in led by journalist and critic Frank Padrón.
- Speaking at the Pavilion Cuba, Mariela said that “this day is part of a broader educational strategy to call attention to respect for free and responsible sexual orientation and gender identity.” She also explains the Conga’s position against homophobia in relation to other initiatives: “We did not make a gay march because gays are not the problem; The problem is homophobia,” said the director of the Cenesex
- They hold panels with specialists that address sexual diversity in the Cuban family.
- The National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba holds for the first time a day of activities at its headquarters, with the participation of important intellectuals, a space that continues until today.
- Diversity is natural: slogan that used the day in various media, such as t-shirts and posters. In the visual identity stood the posters with the phrase: Two equals also pair.
- Panel of activists from Cuba and other countries brings together in the La Rampa cinema a large audience of LGBTI people and their families who talked about the rights of that community.
- Cenesex experts provided training to officers of the Havana National Revolutionary Police (PNR) on how biases in police action affect gays, lesbians, transvestites and transsexuals.
- For the first time the Day leaves the capital, to carry out its central activities in the city of Santa Clara, with a transformista spectacle that closed Marta Abreu Street in front of the cultural center El Mejunje.
- The Karl Marx theater hosts for the first time the Gala against Homophobia, with a transformismo spectacle whose brilliance and originality surprised the public and had a wide repercussion in the international press.
- In the Student House of the University of Havana Mariela Castro exchanged with students and activists about respect for free and responsible sexual orientation and gender identity.
- In Santiago de Cuba, more than 450 students and professors at the Universidad de Oriente filled the campus theater to participate in a panel discussion with Mariela Castro along with other specialists and activists, who then had a lively debate.
- Extensive discussion between the population and LGBTI activists in Plaza Dolores and Plaza de Marte, in Santiago de Cuba.
- To the rhythm of the conga of Los Hoyos, hundreds of people rolled against the homofobia from the Plaza Dolores to the Place of Mars.
- Dr. Jorge Pérez presented in Santiago de Cuba his book Sida: confessions to a doctor, where he discusses the history of the HIV epidemic in the country and how stigma and discrimination contribute to homosexual persons.
- For the first time, one of the most visible slogans of this Conference was used: Humanity is diversity, which was accompanied by the expression: For sexual rights as human rights. The phrase: Homosexuality is not a danger, homophobia is also very important.
- Mariela announced at a press conference that for the first time in all provinces there would be activities on the occasion of the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia.
- Students from the Latin American School of Medicine spoke with Mariela Castro in an intense multicultural debate in relation to free sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Panel of activists and conga by the Prado of Cienfuegos gathered hundreds of activists and general public.
- Cienfuegos’s former star pitcher, Yosvany Pérez Ruiz, intervened in a panel that took place at the University of Medical Sciences of that province, publicly acknowledged the existence of homosexual players within the national pastime and referred to the difficulties they face as a consequence Of the homophobia that prevails in this sport.
- Granma newspaper published the article Homophobia is what we must cure, in what would be the first non-informative gender work in the official organ of the Party on the occasion of the Day.
- With the motto Hogar is love, respect and inclusion, began the practice of dedicating the day in a biannual way to a specific theme, in this case the family.
- René González Sehwerert, one of the Five Cuban Heroes who suffered imprisonment in the United States for fighting terrorism, participated in activities of the Day and took part in the Gala. Since 2011, the Cuban LGBTI community has included in the Conga expressions of solidarity and demand of freedom for the Five.
- First Cuban Vice President, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, attended the Cuban Gala against Homophobia, in the largest sample of public political support for the Day by the State and the government.
- National and foreign media emphasized with amplitude slogans of the Conga: Socialism yes, homophobia no! And Unity in Diversity!
- First Sports Festival against Homophobia and Transphobia. It was inaugurated by Mariela and the then Inder president, Christian Jiménez Molina.
- Also participating in all activities were Lohana Berkins, a recognized trans activist from Argentina; And Adela (José Agustín) Hernández González, first trans delegate of Cuba by municipality of Caibarién.
- Activists with rainbow flags witnessed baseball game between Industriales and Ciego de Avila for the pass to the championship final, fact that transmitted the TV.
- One of the educational channels of Cuban television broadcast for the first time the gala against homophobia in the Karl Marx theater.
- VI Regional Conference of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Association for Latin America and the Caribbean (Ilgalac) in Varadero and Havana, the first major international event of LGBTI leaders that took place in the country.
- In Manzanillo participated in the festivities the popular artist Candido Fabré, who composed an exclusive dance music theme for the Journey.
- For the first time the Round Table of Cuban TV, one of its main informational spaces, dedicated a program to the Day, under the title La familia diversa.
- The celebrations of love began during the activities in the Cuba Pavilion, during which homosexual couples received the blessing of religious leaders from the United States, Canada and Cuba.
- The CENESEX prize – In Memoriam – was presented for the first time to Vilma Espín Guillois
- The Workers ‘Central of Cuba received for the first time in its headquarters, the Workers’ Palace, activists of the LGBTI community of Cuba and other countries, who shared and discussed together with specialists in labor law and leaders of the Cuban unions and Latin America and the Caribbean. Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento, Secretary General of the CTC, presided.
- Trade unions participated for the first time in the now traditional conga against homophobia and transphobia in Havana, in response to the convening of the secretary general of the CTC, to address discrimination in labor spaces.
- Guateque campesino against homophobia in Las Tunas, where for the first time harmoniously coincided the celebrations of the Day and the Day of the Peasant.
- Creation of the slogan I include myself, as the center of the communication campaign on the Journey.
- Among the slogans that people chanted during the Conga, the media highlighted this time: all rights for all people!
- The conga against homophobia in Havana extended for the first time its traditional route by the Malecón, from the Piragua, until climbing by 23 to the Cuba Pavilion.
- Marta Sánchez, a well-known Spanish interpreter, attended as a guest artist at the Gala.
- He participated in the activities of Matanzas Louis-Georges Tin, a French activist born in Martinique and creator of the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia.
Here I leave the most recent, almost final version of the program for this year: