Wendy and Ignacio / Yoani Sánchez

The Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, they all got ahead of us, as did even Spain itself, that country of espadrilles and tambourines that our grandparents described as timid and old-fashioned. Gay marriage is also a reality in several jurisdictions in the United States and in Mexico City, home of those movies with sombrero-wearing, pistol-toting cowboys. In just a few decades, modernity has left us behind, without a leg to stand on, facing too much prejudice, too much stuffiness. When did we Cubans become prudish and old-fashioned? What were our reasons or intentions for not joining the twenty-first century?

To the “anthropological damage” from being a society barely connected to the new communications networks, with a poor political culture and an almost childish inexperience in matters of civic expression, we must add the lack of evolution over the last fifty years in accepting differences. But there are always individuals who force a nation to quicken its pace, hike up its skirts and climb on the bandwagon of history. In this case their names are Wendy and Ignacio, who were not satisfied with the dawdling of the National Assembly in evaluating the legalization of same sex marriage. She, the push and pull of all the discrimination; he, harassed by homophobia and ideological intolerance. Wendy, managing a genital reassignment surgery through CENESEX*; Ignacio, with his political ideas provoking Mariela Castro to fire his fiancee from her job at an institution that claims to ensure the acceptance of plurality.

Although what will happen this coming Saturday, August 13, is not legally considered a “gay wedding,” nevertheless it is the closest we have come. Wendy has an identity card with a female name, but it will be difficult for the bureaucrats to understand why her birth certificate says “male.” They will both sign a document — before a notary — and leave the Wedding Palace as man and wife. They will return to their little house in the Playa neighborhood, conscious that they have set an important precedent, one that has given us a lesson, a jolt, a burst of energy. And it will fall to those of us who will witness this legal union, especially this servant who will act as matron of honor, to thank Wendy and Ignacio. Because for one afternoon, for one brief afternoon, they will have placed our country into the third millennium, into the desired time of “now.”

The wedding of Wendy and Ignacio will be this coming Saturday, August 3, 2011, at 3:00 PM in the Vibora neighborhood Wedding Palace at Maia Rodríguez and Patrocinio streets, telephone +537-640-7004.

Anyone who would like to go is invited: friends, acquaintances, curious neighbors, stigmatizers and discriminators of all kinds, official paparazzi, self-employed photographers, bloggers, independent journalists, CENESEX workers — Mariela Castro included — foreign and national press, homosexuals, gays, lesbians, transsexuals and heterosexuals. The doors will also open to people who think that now is the time for Cuba to open itself to modernity and modernity to open itself to Cuba, including — why not? — those who would vote, in an actual parliament, against these types of unions. In short, it will be a good opportunity for the tolerant, the intolerant, the political police and those they pursue every day, the silenced and those who applaud, those who hold to the letter of the Gospels and those who have no creed, to witness this moment with Wendy and Ignacio who overcame so many obstacles, among them having been born in a country wedded to the past.

Translator’s note:
CENESEX is the National Center for Sex Education, run by Mariela Castro, Raul’s daughter.

11 August 2011