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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Travel

Queers to Cuba Tour - Gay travel experience

Posted July 26, 2007 by Cuba Educational Tours in Cuba Travel.
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On December 27, 2007, a group of North Americans will make history by flying to Havana on the first ever Queers to Cuba Tour. They’ll spend eight days experiencing the island’s rich cultural heritage and meeting representatives of Cuban organizations working for sexual dignity. Activists from CENESEX (the National Center for Sexual Education), the Cuban organization advancing queer reforms and AIDS awareness, will brief tour members on the island scene.

Program highlights include joining the throng celebrating the 49th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution in Old Havana, attending an authentic drag show, swimming at the gay beach, learning salsa dancing from island pros, and sampling the city’s exciting nightlife. Tour participants will explore colonial and modern Havana, sample museums of art and history, and visit the eco-community at Las Terrazas in Pinar de Rio

The farewell dinner will be at La Guarida Restaurant where the famous 1995 movie “Strawberry and Chocolate” starring Jorge Perugorria and Vladimir Cruz was filmed. In the movie, a young Communist Party activist learns the meaning of live and let live from a gay artistic director.

The tour is being conducted by Sonja de Vries, co-founder of San Francisco-based Queers for Cuba, the first LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) group to be officially invited to Cuba. Ms de Vries studied race and gay issues in Havana from 1993 to 1994, and her groundbreaking documentary “Gay Cuba” remains the last word on the subject.

“The Queers to Cuba Tour comes at an exciting time for LGBT equality in Cuba,” says Sonja de Vries. “The Cubans are drafting legislation to allow same sex unions, lesbian adoption and insemination, and transgender reassignment surgery. These changes are being broadly debated by the population, yet North Americans hear very little about this kind of popular democracy.”

The tour is being organized by Cuba Education Tours of Vancouver, Canada, whose coordinator, Marcel Hatch, insists, “The image of Cuba as a gulag for LGBT people is false. It’s a myth invented by opponents of revolutionary Cuba. As a gay, I feel safer in Cuba than in Canada or the States. Soon island queers will enjoy greater rights and freedoms than their counterparts in the USA.”

Ricardo Alarcon, president of Cuba’s National Assembly, has said, “We have to abolish any form of discrimination against those persons. We have to redefine the concept of marriage. Socialism should be a society that does not exclude anybody.”

Sonja de Vries recalls, “When I visited Cuba last December with a group, we met with CENESEX president Mariela Castro Espin and she told us about the concrete work being done with transgender people, with lesbians, and with families to encourage support of their LGBT kids. Several members of my group were in tears. To see these efforts being carried out in a way that is so respectful and compassionate is not something most of us have experienced with institutions, much less government!”

The inaugural Queers to Cuba Tour will run from December 27, 2007 to January 3, 2008. Participants will stay at the Hotel St John’s in the heart Havana’s Vedado entertainment district. The services of a multilingual Cuban guide and a professional bus chauffeur will be provided throughout. It’s an event LGBT people and their friends from Canada, the United States, and beyond will not want to miss.

Ms Sonja de Vries and Mr Marcel Hatch are available for media interviews. To arrange a time, call 877-687-3817 toll free or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

About Cuba Education Tours
Cuba Education Tours has been promoting healthy, entertaining, and ethical travel to Cuba since 2000. Examples of its programs include baseball tours, study abroad programs, a VIP presence at the Havana Jazz Festival, and volunteer opportunities for ESL teachers. The organization’s website is http://www.canadacuba.ca with specific information on the Queers to Cuba Tour at http://www.gaycuba.ca and photos of Cuba on http://www.cuba-pictures.com

Marcel Hatch
Cuba Education Tours
708 - 207 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6B 1H7 Canada
Tel 877-687-3817 toll free
Cell 778-859-1048
Fax 604-874-9041

About Cuba Education Tours
Cuba Education Tours has been promoting healthy, entertaining, and ethical travel to Cuba since 2000. Examples of its programs include baseball tours, study abroad programs, a VIP presence at the Havana Jazz Festival, and volunteer opportunities for ESL teachers. The organization’s website is http://www.canadacuba.ca with specific information on the Queers to Cuba Tour at http://www.gaycuba.ca and photos of Cuba on http://www.cuba-pictures.com

Marcel Hatch
Cuba Education Tours
708 - 207 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6B 1H7 Canada
Tel 877-687-3817 toll free
Cell 778-859-1048
Fax 604-874-9041
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Member Comments

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On August 06, 2007, nacho wrote:

I just hope that they’re not turned away from the hotel. My partner and me were turned away from the Melia Santiago for asking for a double bed as originally booked. The girl at reception thought it was a mistake and told her boss she will change it, when we said there was no error, the reception manager refused to allowed us stay. The story is here in Spanish, http://www.elveraz.com/articulo507.htm

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On August 07, 2007, publisher wrote:

Other than that. Did you have a good experience in Cuba?

Did you find any hot spots?

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On August 07, 2007, nacho wrote:

As a Cuban who has lived abroad for a long time, a trip to Cuba is always an experience, both good and bad. Havana is more liberal regarding gay life and as far as I know Mi Cayito the beach and Malecon remain the places where Cuban gay guys and girls turn up. In Malecon check out the are near BimBom icecream parlour, the Fiat concessionaire and cafe, and the area across from the National. Also the pavement near El Yara gets crowded but the police can disperse the crowd in seconds.

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On August 07, 2007, publisher wrote:

Good info, thanks. Do you recommend any sites or forums for meeting people? Does any site recommend gay friendly casas particulares and paladares?

Ever go to a fiesta de diez pesos?

Is the Havana Carnival a good gay parade?

I started the Cuba Love forum here http://havanajournal.com/forums/viewforum/28/ . Should I start a Gay Cuba Forum?

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On August 07, 2007, nacho wrote:

No experience with the Havana Carnival and I am sure any hint to gay parade will be banned outright
The paladares listed in the Queers to Cuba Tour are famous for being gay-friendly but I don’t know them or any casas. I will ask about gay-friendly casas/paladares and email them to you or post them here

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On December 05, 2011, publisher wrote:

Be sure to visit our sister site… or should I say brother site about gay travel to Cuba.