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Leading this unique revolution on the behalf of the LGBT community is activist Mariela Castro Espín, the 48-year-old daughter of Cuba’s President, Raúl Castro, and niece of Fidel Castro. Heterosexual and a married mother of three, Castro Espín is going into her tenth year as director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) in Havana. These series of events represent Cuba’s participation in the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, which takes place on May 17. [Note that some events have been brought forward this year to coincide with Cuba hosting ILGALAC – see events outside of Havana).
Events not to miss include the kick-off conga (May 10, 10.30a.m.), where Cubans of all types and stripes shimmy and shake up Calle 23 from the Malecón to Pabellón Cuba, HQ of the annual anti-homophobia celebration.
The closing gala (8.30pm on May 10 in Teatro Karl Marx) is nothing short of fabulous—Priscilla Queen of the Desert meets Tropicana, performed to a packed theater of LGBTI Cubans and their friends (not to mention members of the establishment—Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel was in attendance last year in 2013).
Background – International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia
May 17, or the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT)—as it is widely recognized—is an essential feature in the international LGBT rights calendar. In the 9th edition, in 2013, commemorations took place in almost 120 countries, in all world regions.
The day aims to coordinate international events that raise awareness of LGBT rights violations and stimulate interest in LGBT rights work worldwide. The date of May 17 was chosen to commemorate the decision to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1990. The day was conceived in 2004. A year-long campaign culminated in the first International Day Against Homophobia on May 17, 2005.
Program Highlights (Jornada Cubana Contra la Homofobia)
May 5 10am, CENESEX Press Conference. Presentation by Byron Monthly
Sala Villena, UNEAC May 9 10am: Words by Miguel Barnet and CENESEX representatives 10:30am: Transvestism, identity and show. Screening of parts of Máscaras al borde del proscenio. 11:30am: Presentation of books, poets and narrators. 2pm: Conversation between Norge Espinosa and contemporary authors who deal with this topic. 3pm: Round table with members of Teatro El Público celebrating the 20th anniversary of the premiere in Cuba of Federico García Lorca’s “El público.” 4pm: Meeting with the film crew of Fátima o el Parque de la Fraternidad. 5pm: Meeting with Mariela Castro and guests to the Cuban day Against Homophobia 2014: Víctor Hugo Robles (Chile) and Vikram Seth (India). 6pm: Closing ceremony with drag show.
May 10 9am, La Rampa Theater: Panel: Family: A Space for Inclusion? 10:30am, Cascada de 23 y Malecón: Cuban Conga Against Homophobia 11:30am, Pabellón Central. Escenario natural: Opening speech, VII Jornada Cubana contra la Homofobia by Mariela Castro Espín 12pm, Salón de Mayo: Presentation of the digital book Pingueros en La Habana by Julio César González Pagés. 12pm, Pérgola: Celebration for peace and non-violence, organized by the Centro Memorial Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Grupo “Somos”. Centro Kairós, Matanzas. 1pm, Pérgola: Presentation by CENESEX and other organization of civil society. Debate with the audience. 2pm, Pabellón Central. Escenario natural: Sociocultural show by the DIVINO Project 8:30pm, Teatro Karl Marx: Cuban Gala Against Homophobia. 11pm: Festival for Diversity.
Sala polivalente del Hotel Tulipán May 12 9am-11am Panel: “Inclusion-Social Integration. Ways to eliminate discrimination of LGBTs”, Panelists: Mariela Castro Espín (Cuba), Patricia Bueza Gainza (Uruguay), Gloria Careaga (Mexico), Andrés Scagliola (Uruguay) 11am-1pm: Panel: “Sexual Health and Rights” 2pm-4pm: “Masculinities-Power and Homophobia”
May 13 3pm, UCI: Lecture by Mariela Castro 8pm, Cine 23 y 12: “Cine Club diferente”. Screening and discussion of film El sexo de los Ángeles
May 14 Activities in San Pablo de Yao, Buey Arriba, Granma Province
May 15 Activities in the city of Manzanillo
May 16 – 17 Activities in the city of Bayamo
May 22 5pm, Barrio El Príncipe (Zapata #951 e/ Basarrate y Mazón, Plaza)
May 24 10am: Ciudad Deportiva: 2nd.Sports Festival Against Homophobia and Transphobia
May 2014 This article formed part of the may 2014 issue of What’s On Havana The definitive monthly travel & culture guide to Havana Download our current issue of What’s On Havana, your definitive travel, culture and entertainment guide for all things happening in Havana, Cuba’s bustling and enigmatic capital city. We include features from around Cuba written by the best international travel writers covering Cuba. Our monthly online digital magazine is also available in Spanish and French.
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