• Byron Motley

INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA & TRANSPHOBIA ("La Jornada") - My favorite time of the year!

Updated: Oct 1, 2018

Mariela Castro-Espin and colleagues march forward during the Conga at the International Day Against Homophobia celebration in Havana, Cuba 2015

"La Jornada"

Since 2007, Cuba has hosted an annual International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia (IDAHO and/or "Jornada"). The two-week long event includes symposiums, lectures, films, art and photo exhibits, theatrical festival, concerts and conga (parade). The highlight of the event is the conga. Complete with drums, brass instruments, dancers, drag queens and an array of fascinating characters, thousands of LGBTQ Cubans, along with their straight allies, march through the capital city of Havana (and a different chosen province each year) singing, dancing and chatting slogans to support their cause.

Every May, the chosen month of "La Jornada", Cuba's LGBTQ community comes together to increase aware around specific issues affecting the community. This year's theme "Me Incluyo" (Include Me), focused on the need for more tolerance in schools.

The yearly celebration always begins with a week-long slew of activities and events in Havana. Supported and attended by activists from other countries as well, the subsequent week the event travels to another province on the island to spread the message to those living in more rural areas. This year's second province was the tobacco region of Pinar del Rio. Past provinces include: Matanzas, Santiago de Cuba, Bayamo, Santa Clara, Cienfuegos, Las Tunas and Ciego de Avila.

Other than the conga, the events in Cuba are less celebratory and more cerebral in natural. The approach of the Jornada is more “scientific” in thought as opposed to an “in your face” stance in order to be more encompassing and to reach more people. The purpose is to be as inclusive as possible and to offend as few people as possible. After all the ideal of “anti-homophobia” is a relatively new venture for a Cuban society rooted in machismo.

While Cuba continues to recognize civil rights equality for all its citizens, Mariela Castro-Espin (director of CENESEX) and those dedicated to the LGBTQ cause know it will take more time to embolden others and install meaningful and country-wide change. But, they are happy to persist with the necessary work of breaking down barriers and building bridges. Committed to this fight for equality, Castro-Espin explains, “Why should there be discrimination when it comes to race, religion and sex? No differences should exist in any way. That is why we organize this International Day Against Homophobia. We do it to make people aware.” As she talked her thoughts become even stronger and more determined, “I will continue to struggle on the streets as I have been doing. We have to destroy all forms of discrimination. Let’s do away with homophobia. Let’s defend the solution as a paradigm of emancipation for all human beings!”

I have personality attended each Jornada since 2010 and have watched the developments and pride within the LGBTQ community grow in leaps and bounds. I am also honored to have been invited to present my photography at each Jornada since 2011, and considered to be a part of the CENESEX family. It's a pride filling time of the year that I always look forward to participating in and document photographically.

Images below are from various International Day Against Homophobia celebrations in Havana and other provinces around Cuba since 2010.

All Images ©ByronMotleyPhotogrpahy - All Rights Reserved.

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© 2018 Byron Motley & Byron Motley Photography

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Welcome to my GAY CUBblog where you can learn about the latest news from inside sources within Cuba's LGBTQ community.


I am a long-time traveler to Cuba and the author of the award-winning photo book Embracing Cuba.  The book is one of my proudest creative achievements! 

I am proud to be considered a part of the CENESEX CUBA family and have been working with, photographically documenting, and supporting the organization for the past decade.  For those who may not know, CENESEX is Cuba's version of an LGBTQ Center.  The organization also focuses on women's rights and issues.  The folks at CENESEX have become people I love and admire deeply. Not only do I consider them"amigos", they are now "familia"!


I never thought of myself as an "activist" until becoming involved with CENESEX CUBA.  Now, I proudly carry that banner.  Enjoy getting to know them and me through this blog!

Abrazos y besitos,

Byron Motley


p.s.....Visit my photography website at to see more images from Cuba.....and beyond!

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