Cuban first daughter and Fidel’s niece Mariela Castro rounded out her visit to San Francisco with an open forum at the LGBT Center on Wednesday night. Though heterosexual, Castro is the most prominent Cuban queer rights activist and head of the National Center for Sex Education, the only government-recognized advocacy group for sexual minorities in Cuba.
When asked about Obama’s recent support of same-sex marriage, Castro said it seemed genuine.
“Sometimes same-sex marriage is used during elections to get votes,” Castro spoke in Spanish with a translator sitting to her right, “I think Obama is sincere and speaks from the heart on this issue. If I were a U.S. citizen, I would vote for President Obama.”
Her endorsement brought cheers from the audience. Castro went on to explain that her father, President Raul Castro, had been a long time supporter of same-sex marriage but that he hadn’t made it public because he was working on an internal strategy for social change in Cuba.
Mitt Romney, who had been originally outraged over the granting of a travel visa to the “daughter of a dictator,” quickly condemned the endorsement.
Castro’s visit to America has sparked debate as to whether she’s a genuine agent for gay rights or just daddy’s mouthpiece but her event in San Francisco did little to calm suspicions.
The forum, which was made possible by the Rainbow World Fund, began with the screening of a Cuban propaganda video showcasing drag queens putting on makeup, lesbians dancing together and Castro leading a gay-rights “promenade.” (A march requires a police permit)
Castro’s entrance at the LGBT Center’s Rainbow Room was delayed due to a member in the audience, most likely a Cuban ex-pat, shouting in Spanish, “down with the Castro family!” He was brusquely escorted by security and Castro and her security detail took the stage.
Of Pride celebrations, Castro said they had become too commercialized and patriarchal — revolving around mainly only gay men. She prefers for Cubans to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, which she’s spearheaded since 2007. Now, according to Castro, the entire month of May is dedicated to LGBT equality and celebration with a film festival currently underway.