December 14, 2018

HavanaDialoguesBY CHRISTEL ALLISON

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) community is constantly in need of a voice. One that lets people know that there’s nothing wrong with their sexual orientation.

Dr. Mariela Castro Espin, director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education, strives to be that voice.

Castro Espin, the daughter of current Cuban President Raul Castro, spoke at THEMUSEUM on Nov. 23. She is one of the speakers participating in the Havana Dialogues that opened on Oct. 28 at THEMUSEUM. Her lecture was titled Raising LGBTQ Awareness Through Art.

The Havana Dialogues explores the unique Cuban-Canadian relationship over the past 70 years. The photograph-based exhibition features two black and white photography collections, the first on loan from the Cuban Embassy in Ottawa, and the second a series by Canadian photographer Nick Devlin. The photographs depict Cuba’s relationship with Canada, as well as Cuban history and culture.

“I am an advocate for sex education in Cuba, and have been working towards creating positive change for almost 30 years,” said Castro Espin during her lecture.

She added that it is baffling to her that with all the resources available in Canada, people are still discriminated against enough to make them want to take their own lives. She wondered just how bad it was because in Cuba, where the resources are limited, people don’t give up that easily. She encouraged people to not be hard on themselves and not let what others have to say break them.
“With this exhibition, we’re looking to solve conflict through dialogue,” Castro Espin said.

At the beginning of the event, David Marskell, CEO of THEMUSEUM talked about Castro Espin and the part THEMUSEUM plays in the cultural and art sector.

“We are excited and honoured to welcome Dr. Castro Espin to THEMUSEUM as part of The Havana Dialogues,” said Marskell. “We strive to provide fresh, cultural content from around the world, and this event is a perfect example of the unique programming that makes THEMUSEUM the cultural hub of southwestern Ontario.”

About 70 people attended the lecture and prior to the event, Castro Espin met with members of the local LGBTQ community for more in-depth discussions and a private reception.
After the lecture, those in attendance were able to appreciate the art before calling it a night.

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