It was 20 years ago when I first reported on the state of LGBT life in Cuba, and the differences between then and now could not be more apparent.
Start with the procedure to arrange my travel to the island nation. In 1997, as an out LGBT journalist, I received no assistance from the U.S. government — except the warning that I could have trouble re-entering the United States, since the U.S. government might not recognize LGBT reporters as legitimate journalists.
As for Cuba, its embassy refused to return calls.
As with most Cuba-bound Americans, I had to travel via Mexico and arrange hotel and other necessities through third- and fourth-party connections. At times, it was almost cloak-and-dagger.
Today, travel protocols made my arrangements vastly easier than 20 years ago. The Cuban Embassy not only sped up my visa, it arranged for me to have official Cuban press credentials, which it also did for other U.S. LGBT media on the same trip. Read more via Philadelphia Gay News