Gay man, sex-change woman in island”s first transgender wedding

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13 August, 2011
1. Wide of bride Wendy Iriepa arriving in classic car
2. Zoom in to Iriepa arriving
3. Zoom in to Iriepa exiting car with help from best man, Reinaldo Escobar, Cuban dissident
4. SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Wendy Iriepa, bride:
“I think the Cuban government has really politicised this. I haven”t wanted to turn this into a circus, much less something political.”
5. Close of bridal bouquet, with rainbow ribbons
6. Iriepa and bridegroom Ignacio Estrada UPSOUND: (Spanish) ceremony
7. Close of bride”s hand signing marriage certificate
8. Mid of Estrada signing
9. Cutaway maid of honour, Yohanis Sanchez, Cuban dissident blogger
10. Zoom out couple exchanging rings and kissing
11. Wide of couple leaving
12. SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Ignacio Estrada, bridegroom:
“It is the first wedding of a transexual woman with a gay man, which we openly declare and shout it loudly. It is yet another step for the gay community in Cuba and something to remember and celebrate.”
13. Zoom in couple kissing
14. Wide of couple leaving wedding chapel in a classic car with gay pride rainbow flag
15. Car leaving
12 August, 2011
16. SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Mariela Castro, daughter of President Raul Castro:
“I am very pleased that she could marry, not exactly with a heterosexual as she wanted, but it seems she found the love of her life and is going to celebrate it. We wish her much happiness because all we have worked for has been for this and for the wellbeing and happiness of our sisters.
Therefore, congratulations.”
17. Wide, Castro talking in front audience
A gay man and a woman whose sex-change operation was paid for by the state tied the knot on Saturday in a first-of-its-kind wedding for Cuba, a sign of how much the country”s attitude toward sexuality has changed since gays and transsexuals suffered persecution in the early years of the revolution.
Bride Wendy Iriepa, 37, arrived at a Havana register office in a vintage Ford convertible and a full white wedding gown, flowers in her hair and holding a rainbow flag. Neighbourhood residents came out of their homes to see the wedding party and the journalists mobbing the car.
“This is the first wedding between a transsexual woman and a gay man,” said the 31-year-old groom, Ignacio Estrada. “We celebrate it at the top of our voices and affirm that this is a step forward for the gay community in Cuba.”
Inside, a public notary joined them in a brief civil ceremony and the newlyweds kissed to cheers from friends and family.
Gay marriage is not legal in Cuba and Saturday”s wedding does nothing to change that since Iriepa, born Alexis, is officially a woman after sex-change surgery in 2007.
Iriepa becomes the first woman to marry after a revision of Cuban policy on gender-reassignment procedures, now carried out as part of the island”s universal health care system.
In the early years after Fidel Castro”s 1959 revolution, homosexuality was considered highly suspect along with other “alternative” forms of expression, such as US fashion trends and rock and roll.
Many gays and transsexuals were fired from government jobs, jailed, sent to work camps or left for exile. Today, even if deep-seated macho attitudes toward homosexuality have not entirely disappeared, the island and its government are much more tolerant.
The country”s most prominent gay rights activist is Mariela Castro, Fidel Castro”s niece and daughter of President Raul Castro, who heads the National Sex Education Centre.
“”I am very pleased that she could marry, not exactly with a heterosexual as she wanted, but it seems she found the love of her life and is going to celebrate it. We wish her much happiness,” she said.
Among the well-wishers were leaders of Cuba”s Ladies in White dissident group.

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