Mariela Castro in Cuba's IDAHO: We dedicate this day to families

"This was my first time at Havana Pride, even though I have been in Cuba in previous years for the celebrations for International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia," Politizer tells Out. "I was struck by the incredible diversity of those in attendance-a diversity that very much mirrored anything I have seen in the Unites States. There were tons of young people, people of many races, couples of every type of sexual orientation, and a very large number of transvestites and transgender people."

We recently featured Mariette Pathy Allen's art book, TransCuba, and Politizer is completing the design of a photo book about Las Transformistas of Havana, focusing on the gay men and male-to-female transgender performers in the gay cabarets in Havana. Much of the progress in LGBT visibility and rights has been credited to Mariela Castro Espin, the daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro and the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education in Havana (CENESEX).As Politizer notes, Castro Espin was featured very prominently in the pride event, both as one of the banner bearers for CENESEX and as the main speaker during the rally. "However, she clearly was very happy to share the stage with representatives of other organizations and individual members of the community," he adds. "She was mobbed wherever she went by the media and those in attendance. There is no question she is beloved as a champion of LGBTQ rights." In her moving speech at the event last year, Castro Espin said:

"We dedicate this day to families because we want families to be conscious of their great social responsibility, so that all of our families, all of the people with the great social responsibility of being a parent, realize that their can't be any form of discrimination in the family, discrimination based in the prejudice that we've inherited from dominant societies."

"Interestingly, the biggest applause of the day (after Mariela) was for a straight transvestite comedian," Politizer says. "A number of transgender performers and speakers also were welcomed very enthusiastically the crowd. By my estimation, the percentage of transvestite and transgender people in attendance was much larger than I have seen either in the United States or in countries in Europe where I have attended Pride celebrations."

Full report at

More on IDAHO from Cuban News Agency:

The objective of the 7th Campaign against Homophobia and Transphobia, under way until May 24 is to promote and defend the right to free and responsible sexual orientation and gender identity.

Master of Science Mariela Castro Espin, director of the National Center of Sex Education (CENESEX), announced on Monday in this capital, in the presence of national and foreign press, that activities are also aimed at acknowledging rights to sexuality as human rights.

The program of the campaign, which began on Monday, will be carried out in Havana and in western Granma province. She specified that there will be educational, recreational, cultural and sport actions and also of training with a wide social approach.

Castro Espin, a psychologist and a pedagogue, informed that May 17, International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, will be marked in Cuba in Buey Arriba, Bayamo.

The campaign will include the carrying out in Cuba, for the first time, of the Regional Conference of theInternational Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association for Latin

America and the Caribbean (ILGALAC), to be held at the Varadero beach resort and in Havana from May 6th through May 9th.

Castro Espin specified that the new Labor Code in Cuba, in an explicit way, guarantees that there's no labor discrimination due to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Gloria Careaga, of Mexico, general co-secretary of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), underlined that Cuba is among the countries defending and protecting sexual diversity and struggling to eliminate homophobic culture and sex discrimination.

Pedro Paradiso Sottile, of Argentina, regional secretary of ILGALAC, said that the carrying out of this Conference in Cuba will strengthen the process under way in the nation for the promotion and protection of the rights of these persons, both on the island and in the entire region.

Participating in the meeting will be personalities of Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and the United States, he added.

Full report from Cuban News Agency here