14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 29 June 2016 — A rainbow of diversity and another formed in the sky by the light and humidity at sunset were the stage for Kissed by the Diversity and Equality on the afternoon on Tuesday, Gay Pride Day, where some thirty participants in Havana marked the Stonewall Inn riots in New York in 1969, a series of protests and demonstrations that were the beginning of the movement for the rights of the LGBT community.
Without any collaboration from official institutions or dissemination in the national media, for an hour 23rd Street from the Cuba Pavilion to the wall of the Malecon, became a tribute to the diversity of sexual preferences, freedom and love.
“Kissed” was organized by the Rainbow Project, a group not recognized legally that defines itself as “anti-capitalist and independent” and that fights against “the stigma and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the current context of Cuban society, and in its institutional and cultural spaces, from the LGBTI community.”
Isbel Diaz Torres, one of the young participants said that this year offered a “tribute to the people in Orlando, back in Florida, who died as victims of hatred, homophobia and all the misunderstandings that exist in this world. And also in Cuba.”
Torres regretted that the official Cuban press ignored the “two Cubans, two very young boys” who were among the victims of the Orlando attack. “For them and their families our embrace, our kiss,” he said. “Nowhere in the world are we still safe, so we have to keep fighting a lot. I think it is our great duty on behalf of the Cuban LGBTI community to continue organizing to protect us and keep coming together of course.”
The writer and playwright Norge Espinosa was pleased because “Stonewall, where all this struggle for gay rights began, has been declared a place of historical value by the US presidency, there is a feeling of recognition of this history.”
Two young men distributed papers in which they condemned the attack against the gay club Pulse in the United States. With phrases such as “We are Orlando” and “Orlando could be any city. We cannot be silent,” the demonstrators walked from N street to the iconic fountain a few yards from the sea. On some corners there was a visible operation by State Security agents, and the press outnumbered the demonstrators two to one.
Yasmin Silvia told 14ymedio that Project Rainbow has a regular commitment to remember this anniversary, something it has done since 2012. “We want to remember, in Cuba, June 28th as the anniversary of Stonewall and as a significant event in the LGBTI movement, in terms of rebellion and the spontaneous and self-organized exercise of power.”
The activist believes that “Kissed” is “a peaceful form of expression that sums up the willingness to occupy public spaces by a minority that cannot occupy and express themselves freely within them.”
Silvia said that the event is intended to be a day for the collective to be free in expressing its feelings in a safe space. “And demonstrating to other people that, first, we are not ashamed of who we are,” she added.
“Heterosexual people are not losing anything because two gay men or two lesbians kiss each other,” remarked Silvia.
The officially-recognized National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) does not organize activities for Gay Pride Day because Mariela Castro – Raul’s daughter and the organization’s leader – “says that she does not like to imitate the Americans. That is the political reason not to celebrate on 28 June,” says the activist.
CENESEX gives more prominence to 17 May, as the anniversary of the exclusion of homosexuality from the list of mental diseases by the World Health Organization in 1990. “That was followed by this line critical of the celebration of June 28th and its commercialization, and a resolve to promote in Cuba the Day against Homophobia, which is what 17 May has become,” says Silvia.
Rainbow Arc maintains a position critical of the official posture, and commemorates both dates. “If the commercialization of June 28th bothers you, it also bothers us because we are an anti-capitalist group,” she emphasizes.
At the conclusion of “Kissed,” Pedro Manuel Gonzalez, known as Roxy, thanked those who came, saying that “joining together is always an act of love for one’s neighbor, no matter what their identity or preference, whomever comes is always welcome to join us.”