On May 17 IDAHO, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, will be celebrated around the world. According to the website, Idahomophobia.org, the event launched in 2004 by French academic Louis-Georges Tin will be recognized with events, discussions, showings of LGBT-themed films, and a “Great Global Kiss-In.”

The kiss-in has already attracted 36 cities around the world. Some American cities with scheduled kiss-ins are Atlanta, Portland, and St. Louis. In Latin America, Colombia and Peru have also signed on.


At the kiss-in attendees are encouraged to gather around a famous monument in their respective countries, carrying flags, and dressed in a manner representing their country. Participants should tape the event, then upload it at the Global Kiss-In page.

Although it is not listed on the website Havana, Cuba is hosting a “Day Against Homophobia” summit, May 11-18. Venezuela also announced a similar series of events around the same time as the Cuban summit.

CENESEX, the National Center for Sexual Education, helmed by Raul Castro’s daughter Mariela is sponsoring the event. The cultural summit represents acceptance and change in a country that would not even allow the showing of a Cuban gay-themed film, “Fresa y chocolate” at Cuban theaters when it came out in 1994.

“Milk” will also be shown, to close the weeklong event. Sean Penn has even been invited by Mariela Castro to discuss and debate the film’s themes. Penn, who is currently in Haiti doing relief work, has not yet responded to the invitation.

It will not be the first time Penn has been in the communist country. In 2008 he met with Raul Castro, who was not yet named president of the island nation, in Havana and controversial president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez. This was part of an investigative report for The Nation and The Huffington Post. His move to meet with both men drew controversy back home in the United States against Penn, whose political leanings are frequently met with mixed reviews.

In a press conference held by Mariela Castro, she said that the country was going to enter debates on same-sex civil unions and move forward with allowing gays to adopt. Now, when will our “democratic nation” grant us these same rights on a national, federal level?