Cuban gays show pride in march and mass symbolic wedding

Sat May 9, 2015 11:59pm EDT
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By Daniel Trotta

HAVANA (Reuters) - More than 1,000 gay, lesbian and transgender Cubans marched through Havana on Saturday, proudly displaying their truest selves for a day in a society where they still endure discrimination.

The Eighth Annual March against Homophobia and Transphobia took on extra meaning this year for about 20 couples who participated in a "Celebration of Love," symbolically exchanging vows as same-sex marriage remains illegal in Cuba.

Religious leaders from Cuba and abroad huddled with couples in a crowded pavilion in a ceremony inspired by the mass wedding of more than 100 couples at the World Pride event in Toronto last June.

"Our family accepts us but society doesn't," said Raul Orta, who "married" his partner of 13 years, Yaimel Medina. "If one us is no longer here tomorrow, the other one loses everything. That's not right."

The parade, with the beat of conga drums and the waving of rainbow-colored banners, gave gay Cubans and their supporters a rare opportunity to celebrate without fear.

"For eight years we've been living a dream we never thought would have been possible," Orta said of the parade.

For Cubans from the provinces, the open display in Havana was even more liberating.

"In the interior of the country, you couldn't even dream about an event like this," said Raiza Marmol, who moved from Camaguey two years ago and exchanged vows with her partner of two years, Yatiana Garcia. "It's a unique event and surprising for gays who can show their faces without having to hide from anyone."   Continued...

People march during the Eighth Annual March against Homophobia and Transphobia in Havana, May 9, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini