Events celebrating sexual diversity, lesbian films and literature, and transvestite fashion shows and dances in the street marked the opening of a Conference Against Homophobia in Cuba.
It is also honoring Virgilio Pinera, a playwright, poet and essayist who was banned and silenced by the regime in the 1970s because of his homosexuality.
President Raul Castro's daughter Mariela organized the events as the head of National Center for Sexual Education, which campaigns against homophobia in Cuba and for legislation recognizing same-sex unions.
The events include the publication of an anthology on lesbian literature, a panel on homoeroticism in Cuban film and media, and a transvestite conga line through Havana.
A reading of "Brokeback Mountain," Annie Proulx's novel about the forbidden relationship between two cowboys, was to be broadcast on Cuba's Radio Progresso as part of the festivities.
Cubans, who had never seen public images of two men making love, were scandalized several years ago when the 2005 movie of the same name, directed by Ang Lee, was shown here during a previous conference against homophobia.
Traditionally stigmatized in Cuba, homosexuality was fiercely repressed for many years by the regime, which interned homosexuals in work camps in the 1960s and ostracized them in the 1970s.
Among the victims was Pinera, who had contributed to literary magazines and newspapers after Fidel Castro came to power in 1959. He died in 1979.