April 29, 2015 at 8:00 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Gay Men’s Chorus to perform with Cuban counterparts

The Gay Men's Chorus of Washington performed in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on April 28, 2015, during oral arguments for Obergefell v. Hodges. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington performed in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on April 28, 2015, during oral arguments for Obergefell v. Hodges. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro has formally invited members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington to perform with a local gay chorus during their trip to the island in July.

Mariela Castro Espín described the chorus’ visit to her country as “very important” during an interview that Francisco Rodríguez Cruz, a gay Cuban blogger posted to his blog on Tuesday. The Cuban president’s daughter added members of Mano a Mano, a group she described as a “gay chorus,” will perform during an event at a Havana theater on May 8 that will mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

“I would very much like — as suggested in the formal invitation — that these two choruses can meet each other and can do something together during the days that they are going to be here,” Mariela Castro told Rodríguez.

Mariela Castro’s comments come less than a week after the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington announced more than two dozen of its members will travel to Cuba in July for a series of concerts that will place in and around Havana.

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington is partnering with Youth for Understanding, a group that organizes cultural and educational trips to Cuba.

“We thank Mariela Castro for her public recognition of our tour and the very kind invitation to perform with Mano a Mano, a Cuban gay chorus,” said Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington Executive Director Chase Maggiano and Youth for Understanding President Michael E. Hill in a press release. “We appreciate the cultural significance of this tour and look forward to fulfilling our mission of promoting understanding of the LGBTQ community during our visit.”

The trip will take place roughly seven months after President Obama announced the U.S. would begin the process of normalizing relations with Cuba.

The National Center for Sexual Education, which Mariela Castro directs, has spearheaded a number of LGBT-specific causes on the island in recent years. Her critics — and those on the island and elsewhere who oppose her father’s government — maintain the organization known by the Spanish acronym CENESEX is not representative of Cuba’s actual LGBT rights movement.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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