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In Cuba, Gay Man and Transsexual Set To Wed On Fidel Castro's Birthday

In Cuba, Gay Man and Transsexual Set To Wed On Fidel Castro's Birthday
photo by Jonathunder via Wikimedia Commons

A transsexual who underwent Cuba's first state-sanctioned sex change operation and a gay man with AIDS are set to wed in Havana in three weeks, with Cuba's most infamous blogger serving as maid of honor. The ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 13, which also just happens to be Fidel Castro's birthday.

This either has the makings of a really wacky Cuban dramedy pilot -- or, hopefully, a big step forward for gay rights on an island that's been making strides in the last couple years.


Wendy Iriepa, a 37-year-old, is already semi-famous in La Habana for undergoing the island's first legal sex change back in 2008 through Cenesex, the sex ed program run by Fidel's neice Mariela, an LGBT activist.

Iriepa will wed Ignacio Estrada, a 31-year-old with AIDS, who considers himself gay but fell for Iriepa before her sex change.

The maid of honor, according to the Latin American Herald Tribune: None other than Yoanni Sanchez, author of the Generacion Y blog.

The couple insists the wedding isn't meant as a political statement, yet scheduling the ceremony on Fidel's cumpleaños seems like a bit of a happy coincidence.

"I wouldn't want this to be seen as political, as though I'm attacking the government, or maybe Fidel and the revolution, I want people to see us as two people marking a 'before' and 'after'," Iriepa told Reuters.

Same-sex marriage isn't legal in Cuba, but since Iriepa is now legally a woman, their union is totally above-board -- they'll even get gratis cases of beer courtesy Fidel's government for the ceremony, Reuters reports.

Thanks in large part to Mariela's Castro-sanctioned activism, gay rights have been moving forward on the island. Last year, a landmark gay rights parade wound through Havana with no real problems.

Yet even Iriepa has recently cut ties with Mariela Castro, Reuters reports, for her criticism of gay rights activists who work outside government sanctioned events. Estrada, meanwhile, has accused Mariela of "hijacking" the gay rights movement.

Should be interesting to see whether Fidel elects to let the wedding go off as planned amidst his 85th birthday celebrations.

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