Cubans March Against Homophobia

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kropotkin1951
Cubans March Against Homophobia

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kropotkin1951

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Every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Cuban knows of the years 1965–68 when homosexuals were grouped with counterrevolutionaries and sent to obligatory work duty with UMAP (Military Units to Assist Production).  Although the practice faded out by the 1980s and the massive HIV education campaigns in the 1990s treated homosexuality as a fact of life, the scars remain.

March Against Homophobia

May 17 began with the “March Against Homophobia” down Cienfuegos’ beautifully historic Paseo del Prado.  Just before it started, a British TV crew interviewed our MEDICC coordinator, Anna Dorman.  Several in our group recognized Mariela Castro and went to have their photos taken with her. 

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There were at least as many onlookers as marchers.  Many had a very doubtful, almost frowning look; but faces often turned to smiles as they waved to a marcher they knew.  Not everyone smiled, though.  Some were heard to make comments like “Why do they bring this crap here?” “Damn queers,” and “They will make our city look dirty.”

The contradiction between past and present, between government policy and social reality left a deep impression on those who participated.  Our MEDICC translator, Georgina (“Yoyi”) Gómez Tablo, said “This is important to me — my best friend died of AIDS.  This shows we are doing something right.  It makes me proud of being Cuban.  It is so good to be part of a large group in favor of human rights.”

The MEDICC medical consultant, Maricela Torres Esperón, added “There is a tradition of machismo not just in Cuba but in all of Latin America.  People should not be defined by their sexual orientation.  I am glad that the government was in favor of the demonstration.”

As we sink into tyranny other peoples and their governments are trying to build better societies.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/05/28/a-cuban-march-against-homophobia/