A range of activities are being undertaken May 4 through 18, as part of the 11th Cuban Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (Cuba’s event to mark IDAHO – International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia).
Under the motto of “Me incluyo” (I include myself), this year’s activities have been focused on raising awareness in schools and educational institutions regarding discrimination against the LGBTI community, working both with teachers and students.
On May 11, a cultural Gala was held in Havana’s Karl Marx Theater, with performances by Cuban and international artists, who came to together to celebrate diversity and promote respect for different sexual and gender identities.
The Director of the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), Mariela Castro, presented an award to the British LGBT activist, Mike Jackson, who was portrayed in the multi-award winning film Pride, based on the true story of the beginnings of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM), set up by activists who raised money to help families affected by the British miners’ strike in 1984.
Also awarded was Spanish actress Carla Antonelli, noted LGBT rights activist and the first trans person to serve in a legislature in Spain, as deputy to the Madrid Assembly for the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE).
Also announced was the posthumous award for Cuban journalist Isabel Moya, who served as director of the Editorial de la Mujer publishing house, until her recent death.The evening saw a varied and highly artistic show with performances that had those gathered dancing, singing along and laughing.
Spanish actress Antonia San Juan, popularly known for playing Estela Reynolds in the series La que se avecina and assuming the role of a transsexual in Pedro Almodóvar’s film All About My Mother, performed a monologue that sparked cries of “Bravo!” laughter and applause.
Another impressive moment was the performance by dancer Zeleidy Crespo, of Acosta Danza, in the solo Impronta, by Spanish choreographer María Rovira, a piece dedicated to the Afro-Cuban deity Yemayá.
Popular Cuban singers Laritza Bacallao and Hayla María Mompié captivated the audience with their powerful vocals, while drag artists Margot, Ashenal, Deborah and Universo Picasso impressed.The audience spontaneously took to its feet as a children’s choir sung Silvio Rodríguez’s classic “La era,” also performed in sign language.
Meanwhile, Spanish vocalist Beatriz Luengo conquered the audience with “Más que suerte” and “Dime si ahora,” as well as her own version of “Dos gardenias,” the most famous piece by Cuban composer Isolina Carrillo. Cuban pianist Cucurucho Valdés masterfully accompanied the Spanish singer and actress, and also played the Cuban National Anthem “La Bayamesa.”
The song “Cuba isla bella,” by the group Orishas, closed the evening event held in Havana’s Karl Marx Theater, sung by Laritza Bacallao, Hayla María Mompié, Alain Daniel, Diván, Project Voces and two of its composers, Beatriz Luengo and Yotuel Romero.Also attending the Gala were Minister of Public Health, Roberto Morales, Secretary of the Council of State, Homero Acosta; the Ministers of Education and Higher Education, Ena Elsa Velázquez and José Ramón Saborido, respectively; among other government authorities.
CONGA AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA AND TRANSPHOBIA
On the evening of Saturday, May 12, the streets of Havana were awash with color as the Conga Against Homophobia and Transphobia paraded along the central Linea Street, culminating in a concert featuring stars such as Los Van Van, in the José Antonio Echeverría recreational center.
The Conga saw Cubans and international guests celebrate diversity in a festive atmosphere, which drew the attention of passers-by and residents, in a proud display of sexual and gender identities.