LGBTQ South Florida

Two LGBT leaders from United States visiting Cuba for pride events

Mariela Castro and Evan Wolfson in Havana on Thursday.
Mariela Castro and Evan Wolfson in Havana on Thursday. Via Facebook, with permission.

Updated 9:35 p.m. Thursday:

Evan Wolfson and Tico Almeida, two of the United States’ best-known LGBT activists, are in Havana to participate in International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia events.

The weeklong visit “consists of a series of LGBT events, panels, community fairs, and a pride parade in Havana on Saturday, May 14 and a second pride parade in the Cuban city of Matanzas on May 17,” according to a joint news release sent by Wolfson and Almeida.

“I'm no expert and am here to learn, listen, and share ideas, including a better understanding of Cuba's pathway to the freedom to marry,” Wolfson told the Miami Herald on Thursday night from Havana. “Nearly 70% of the people of Latin America now live in a freedom to marry country. The Cuban people deserve no less.”

Wolfson and other activists on Thursday met with Cubans including Mariela Castro, director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education in Havana. She also is daughter of the Cuban leader Raul Castro.

Before Wolfson departed the U.S. on Wednesday, he publicly thanked President Barack Obama.

“Thanks to President Obama, the restoration of relations between the US and Cuba allows people to travel and exchange ideas, and I am thrilled to now be one of them,” said Wolfson, founder of Freedom to Marry. “I eagerly look forward to my first trip to Havana in conjunction with International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia activities this week, including multiple opportunities to meet with and learn from a range of Cuban leaders and advocates, fellow conference attendees, LGBT activists and supporters, and our U.S. Ambassador and the Embassy team. Human rights are universal, and it’s time for the freedom to marry in Cuba and across the Americas.”

Obama visited Cuba in March, setting the stage for a change in diplomatic relations between the island and United States.

“I have visited my family in Cuba much more often in the past few years thanks to President Obama’s executive action easing the old and burdensome travel restrictions,” said Almeida, the Cuban-American founder of Freedom to Work. “I am looking forward to meeting the brave Cubans advocating for marriage equality, and I am honored that I have been invited to speak on a panel about our experience in the United States litigating against LGBT workplace discrimination in the historic case called Freedom to Work vs. ExxonMobil. I’m also looking forward to the LGBT pride parade next week in the Cuban city of Matanzas, which elected my great-grandfather as its mayor in the 1930’s and then to the Cuban Senate in the 1940’s. I hope this is the first, but not last time I can invite my Cuban relatives to join me in celebrating LGBT pride.”