From May 5 to May 24, Cuba will celebrate the 7th Jornada Cubana contra la Homofobia in Havana, Granma and other locations in Cuba. The two-week event included symposiums, lectures, films, art exhibits and a theatrical festival, headlined by Cuban superstar, singer Haila Mompié.
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, 10.30 am) 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.