Gay Cubans erupted into a celebratory parade, banging conga drums and waving rainbow-colored banners. The special day is regularly celebrated just after May Day, the high holy day for the communist state.
One man called the celebration “a dream we never thought would have been possible.” A lesbian participant agreed: “In the interior of the country, you couldn’t even dream about an event like this.” She exchanged vows with her partner, and added: “It’s a unique event and surprising for gays who can show their faces without having to hide from anyone.”
That’s for sure. Castro’s Cuba once hauled off gay people to prisons. They were considered dangerous counter-revolutionaries who needed to be isolated or dispatched from the island. Mere decades ago, this kind of event would not have been tolerated.
Not anymore. There has been a fundamental transformation in Cuba. Why is the once-viciously “homophobic” Cuba suddenly embracing gay rights?
The force for change is Mariela Castro, Fidel’s niece and daughter of current President Raul Castro. She serves in Cuba’s non-democratic National Assembly and heads the Cuban National Center for Sex Education. Mariela has been spearheading gay rights in Havana for several years, with a measure of assistance from the United States, specifically the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton’s State Department. She adores President Obama and has lavishly commended his support of gay marriage. Mariela even claims that her uncle, Fidel, actually favors same-sex marriage, “but he has not made it public.”
While there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done, the tide has certainly begun to shift, thanks in no small part to the brave efforts of Mariel Castro.