GLBT History Museum Press Release – San Francisco — Mariela Castro, a sexologist and the daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro, visited The GLBT History Museum in San Francisco on Friday, May 25, for a private tour of the galleries. Castro was joined by her husband, Italian photographer Paolo Titolo. Also taking part was Jeff Cotter, director of the Rainbow World Fund, an organization that promotes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender philanthropy in the area of global humanitarian relief. The fund is one of the hosts of Castro’s visit to San Francisco.
“Our mission is to inform visitors of all kinds about the diverse histories of GLBT people and about the importance of social respect and acceptance,” said Paul Boneberg, executive director of the GLBT Historical Society, the institution that created the museum. “Ms. Castro’s visit is very much in keeping with those goals.”
Castro and her entourage spent more than an hour at the museum, viewing the two major exhibitions currently on display: “Our Vast Queer Past: Celebrating San Francisco’s GLBT History” and “Life and Death in Black and White: AIDS Direct Action in San Francisco, 1985-1990.” The guided tour was led by Gerard Koskovich, one of the exhibition curators. Daniel Bao, the deputy director of the GLBT Historical Society, served as translator.
“Ms. Castro clearly was keen to see all the exhibits in the museum,” said Koskovich. “She asked for an overview of the theme of each display, and was particularly interested in the ways the museum portrays the queer past through the perspectives of social, economic and cultural history. As a sex educator, she also asked several questions about the cases dealing with sexuality, notably the display devoted to the sharp debates about sexual expression in the American lesbian-feminist community in the 1970-1990s.”
At the end of the tour, the museum staff invited longtime San Francisco gay activist Cleve Jones to show the visitors the museum’s display of personal belongings of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, who was assassinated in 1978. Jones recounted his memories of working on Milk’s campaigns and of Milk’s advocacy for labor unions.
Mariela Castro Espín is the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education in Havana. Her group campaigns for effective AIDS prevention as well as recognition and acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transvestite and transgender human rights. She is the daughter of current Cuban president Raul Castro and the niece of Fidel Castro.
The GLBT History Museum is the first full-scale, stand-alone museum of its kind in the United States. Located at 4127 18th St. in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood, the museum offers long-term and changing exhibitions, as well as public programs devoted to GLBT history and culture. The museum is a project of the GLBT Historical Society, a research center and archives founded in 1985 that houses one of the world’s largest collections of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender historical materials. For more information, visit www.glbthistory.org.