http://havanajournal.com/culture/entry/a-gay-pride-parade-in-cuba-i-doubt-it/

HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Culture

A gay pride parade in Cuba? - I doubt it

Posted June 25, 2008 by publisher in Cuba Culture.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Guardian.co.uk article

Today, Cuba’s gays are planning some reform of their own. Working with Florida’s Unity Coalition, activists in Cuba have organized the island’s first gay pride parade.

Members of the Foundation LGTB Reinaldo Arenas in Memoriam and other groups will participate in the march, according to Unity. They will meet in Havana’s Don Quixote park at 10am and march to the Ministry of Justice to deliver a series of demands.

Marchers seek an apology from the government for its past repression and, in some cases, incarceration of openly gay citizens and the inhumane treatment of prisoners with AIDS, according to Unity.

In Havana, gay activist Aliomar Janjaque said that despite some progress on gay rights, discrimination against homosexuals continues in Cuba. He said people are still passed over for jobs, prevented from gathering in certain places and, in some cases, jailed because of their sexual orientation.

“Mariela Castro’s work is good and valid and we’re not criticizing it,” said Janjaque, 31, a psychology student who is president of the Foundation LGTB Reinaldo Arenas in Memoriam. “But we believe they should do more.”

Mariela Castro, Raul Castro’s daughter, heads the island’s National Center for Sex Education. In May, she led a public rally against homophobia that briefly brought gay activists out of the shadows. Earlier this month, Cuban officials announced they were allowing free sex-change operations for transsexuals.

In South Florida, Cuban natives like Arturo Alvarez, who co-owns Club Azucar, said the government’s recent measures don’t go far enough.

“We’ll see with this parade if openness has really been achieved,” said Alvarez, 44, an internist by training who deserted 20 years ago while on a medical mission in Namibia.

Alvarez traveled to Cuba in May to attend Mariela Castro’s rally and is cautiously hopeful about signs of change on the island. As a gay teenager in Havana, he was barred from Communist youth groups and experienced withering rejection.

“You couldn’t have the slightest gay mannerisms. You could show no trace of who you really were,” said Alvarez, who has organised gay pride parades in several Latin American cities, including the first in Montevideo, Uruguay, last year.

For decades under Fidel Castro, Cuban gays were subject to widespread antipathy and government crackdowns, Alvarez and others said. But the community has seen a growing level of tolerance since the 1990s and a lively gay social scene has for years thrived in Havana.

Janjaque said organizers hope an orderly, peaceful march would draw attention to their concerns.

“We want to raise awareness but we don’t want to provoke a wave of repression against the gay community,” he said. “If there is a hostile reaction from the government, we will stage a much larger demonstration. We will take to the streets.”

Member Comments

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On June 25, 2008, publisher wrote:

First, there was no author on this article and I see why. The author has no clue about the ability to have a “parade” in Cuba.

Florida’s Unity Coalition is sponsoring this “parade” in Cuba? Right.

And this last line “If there is a hostile reaction from the government, we will stage a much larger demonstration. We will take to the streets.”

Seriously?

If this gay pride parade has more than four people I would be surprised.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the gay community should have a gay rights parade in Havana but it ain’t gonna happen. No anti-establishment parade is going to happen in Cuba.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On June 25, 2008, abh wrote:

Publisher,
Once again, your cynicism comes through in the clutch wink

Cuba’s Gay Pride Parade Cancelled
By Ray Sanchez | Havana Bureau-South Florida Sun-Sentinel
1:22 PM EDT, June 25, 2008

Havana - Cuba’s first Gay Pride parade was abruptly canceled Wednesday, before it even began.

The unofficial march, organized with Florida’s Unity Coalition, was not sanctioned by Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education, which is headed by Mariela Castro, the daughter of President Raul Castro.

Activist Mario Jose Delgado announced the cancellation of the march moments before it was to start Wednesday at a park in Havana. He said two organizers who were to deliver a set of demands to the Justice Ministry were detained one day earlier. Delgado said he has no details of the arrests.

“The president of the Cuban League Against AIDS and the president of the Foundation LGTB Reinaldo Arenas in Memoriam have been arrested,” Delgado said. “They were to be here with our written demands but now we cannot carry out our activity.”

Only one other marcher appeared for the event at Don Quixote park in the Vedado neighborhood.

“Our society needs to be sensitized,” said Jandri Penton, 22, a teacher.

But a passerby, Felix Lopez, a 40-year-old personal trainer who said he was gay, dismissed the Gay Pride march as unnecessary.

“Important strides have been made,” he said. “We don’t need to be instructed by people in Miami or any other part of the world. We’re slowly gaining a space in our society and that’s important.”

The activists were seeking an apology from the government for its past repression and, in some cases, incarceration of openly gay citizens, and the inhumane treatment of prisoners with AIDS, according to Unity.

“Despite a so-called opening in the area of gay rights … homosexuals are still being arrested and fined in Villa Clara and homosexuals are still beaten in Granma, Pinar del Rio and Santiago,” Delgado said. “We know change is coming but it’s coming too slowly.”

One of the jailed organizers was identified as Aliomar Janjaque, who said Wednesday that he was briefly detained and released by the police a day earlier. Janjaque said that when he left the home of an activist to attend the march Wednesday, two unidentified men escorted him home. “They told me that I had to go home,” he said. “They escorted me to my door. From what I see, state security has succeeded in intimidating the organizers of this event.”

Delgado identified one of the jailed organizers as Aliomar Janjaque. In an interview last week, Janjaque said homosexuals are still passed over for jobs, prevented from gathering in certain places and, in some cases, jailed because of their sexual orientation.

“Mariela Castro’s work is good and valid and we’re not criticizing it,” said Janjaque, 31, a psychology student and president of the Foundation LGTB Reinaldo Arenas in Memoriam, last week. “But we believe they should do more.”

In May, Mariela Castro led a public rally against homophobia that briefly brought gay activists out of the shadows. Earlier this month, Cuban officials announced they were allowing free sex-change operations.

At Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education, Mariela Castro’s secretary, who gave her name only as Iliana, said there would be no comment on the event.

In South Florida, Cuban natives like Pembroke Pines resident Arturo Alvarez, who co-owns Club Azucar, said the government’s recent measures don’t go far enough.

“We’ll see with this parade if openness has really been achieved,” said Alvarez, 44, an internist by training who deserted 20 years ago while on a medical mission in Namibia.

Alvarez traveled to Cuba in May to attend Mariela Castro’s rally and is cautiously hopeful about signs of change on the island. As a gay teenager in Havana, he was barred from Communist youth groups and experienced withering rejection.

“You couldn’t have the slightest gay mannerisms. You could show no trace of who you really were,” said Alvarez, who has organized gay pride parades in several Latin American cities, including the first in Montevideo, Uruguay, last year.

For decades under Fidel Castro, Cuban gays were subject to widespread antipathy and government crackdowns, Alvarez and others said.

But the community has seen a growing level of tolerance since the 1990s and a lively gay social scene has for years thrived in Havana.

Last week, Janjaque said organizers hoped an orderly, peaceful march would draw attention to their concerns.

“We want to raise awareness but we don’t want to provoke a wave of repression against the gay community,” he said. “If there is a hostile reaction from the government, we will stage a much larger demonstration. We will take to the streets.”

On Wednesday morning, moments before its scheduled start, the march was canceled.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On June 25, 2008, publisher wrote:

He says “We will take to the streets.”

The Cuban government says “How about a beating… not because you are gay but because the only parades around here are for Fidel.”

It seems like more people were involved with organizing this than actually took place in the “parade”. Did the organizers really think they would be able to have a parade and that anyone would show up?

With that said, anybody ever hear about Stonewall?

There is A LOT of pent up frustration in Cuba and I think the gay community might be leading the way in their voice for freedom.

With Raul’s recent reforms, he is letting people be a little more free.

However, you can’t be a little pregnant and you can’t be a little free.

Will others follow?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On June 25, 2008, abh wrote:

The funny thing is since Cuba cultivates its image with the international left, it will probably work on opening things up a bit for gays.  Mariela is leading the charge on this one for sure.  Mark my words.  It is so funny to me that the fake gay rights agenda pushed by the right wing Cuban exhiles might have more success than the rest of their agenda.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On June 27, 2008, cubanpete wrote:

The Castro regime simply is not into freedom of assembly, no matter what the event.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On June 27, 2008, publisher wrote:

Funny.

Sad but true.

Honestly, what do they have to fear?

It’s not like Cuban have guns and can organize and take over the military, FAR from it.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On July 23, 2008, Marcel Hatch wrote:

I have a different take on this supposed “gay pride parade” in Havana. It was a setup from start to finish orchestrated in Miami to hurt Cuba.

There are gay celebrations in Havana regularly. There was a large May 17 event around the International Day Against Racism (IDAHO), and a June 14 gay celebration at Mí Cayito Beach just east of Havana.

Please see http://gaycuba.ca/together/

This site has photos and videos that prove big gay events actually happen in Cuba unlike the sham parade designed as a ruse by the Unity Coalition to attack island gays and their government.

Marcel Hatch
Vancouver, BC Canada