Our Streets Are Not Free

LGTBIQ march in Havana
Photo by: Ariam Norcal


To me, being able to go out to demonstrate means that all men and women who love freedom have the right to change the most unjust aspects of their society, but in Cuba we cannot occupy our streets because they have not been declared free for the sake of marching and demanding our rights.

Marches, if they have not been called for by the government, are not allowed. Nor have there been many attempts made in the past to have them because for years the state has taught us more how to obey than to protest. The few times I have participated in protests, I have been met with repression, and many times I have suffered the rejection of the community around me, because many people interpret demonstrations as a subversive act that can create problems for them with the government. It is true that participating in an independent and self-convened march represents a risk to the safety of anyone who decides to bring an event like this to fruition, especially for LGBTIQ people in Cuba, who are already very vulnerable to violence.

However, I believe that if the people responsible for the government and the institutions do not look after our interests, we will have to do it ourselves. Mariela Castro Espín did not respond to our needs and expectations when she declared that there would be no LGBTIQ Pride march because the country is in the midst of an economic crisis, so we decided to go out into the streets on our own.

We went to the march with the hope of achieving that in the future we can have the same rights as the rest of the people. United in the streets we felt safe and protected. We know that unity is strength, and all together we want to show the world that we do have ethical and moral values, to eliminate all sources of discrimination and to get society to accept us as we are.

There is a proverb that says “the important thing is not how much or how little one has, but what you can do with what you have.” And we, by participating in this self-convened conga line of a march, used that small space that had been opened to reclaim our identities. Despite being repressed, we were able to show that we are many, and that we intend for things to change.

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