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‘This is not a Gay Pride, this is a Cuban Conga.’
On 14 May 2016 Havana played host to a thousands-strong parade to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Led by an Afro-Cuban motorbike-riding drag queen dressed as a witch, Havana’s LGBTQI community and their allies came out in force under a scorching sun to celebrate and claim their rights. We were there to record the day’s events.
Although we had been told back in the UK that the Conga was anything but diverse, and only more ‘elite’ members of the community took part in the celebrations, as you can see from the film this was anything but the case. Also, given Cuba’s uneasy relationship with the church, the symbolic wedding blessings that took place during the celebrations after the parade took us by surprise. Many of them included inter-racial couples, such as Mercedes and her life partner, who narrate the film and point out how the LGBTQI experience in Cuba can be very different, depending on the colour of your skin, or your income level.
Film: Bex Wade