Thursday, August 20, 2015

Innovative Youth Blogging Competition Launched



Aiming to influence critical thinking among young people, the Youth Advocacy Movement of the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (YAM - GRPA) and the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) have teamed up to launch this exciting youth blogging competition on Wednesday, August 19, 2015 at the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) & Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Youth Interaction, held in observance of International Youth Day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Freedom

Years have gone by and I still feel the burning pain of scars inflected by moral whips.
Freedom, yet like steel bars wrapped around me I feel the cold shackles of rules gagging me to keep quiet. Pinning me to the ground like a common criminal .

Freedom, but the mere touch of a hand that makes my world feel complete causes me to live in exile. Tearing our flesh apart forcefully with threatening disgusted stares.
 
Freedom, but my voice still screams from behind a prison wall created in their minds, where I remain until eternity. Wishing me away into nothingness.
Freedom, but I still walk around lifeless, I still walk around voiceless, our blood still haunts the streets, I still live in fear of my "masters", freedom but I'm still not my own, I'm owned.
Trapped in the lines you've drawn for me to not walk between. Freedom.

Freedom, when only my hidden half makes me whole. When you break me every day with your one tracked minds.
 
Freedom, when every day I'm forced to rest in peace. Bidding me farewell when you tell me who I should have been. Firing bullets when I'm forced to see who you see.  
Freedom, but your definition of freedom is defined only by you. You say I'm free but I will never be free until you release your fears. Until the fear of something you know nothing of, releases you. When you are free, only then will I be allowed freedom.
Freedom does not come with conditions. I can never be free if the sight of  my affection shatters your world.

When the lifeless body of stranger hangs because of the jabs you aimlessly throw, that can never be freedom.

When death is the only life I see for me because I live in vain, because what I feel and I should have felt conflicts my very existence .

When I have nothing worthwhile to say because you hear nothing worth listening to. I'm worthless but not only to you .

How can I ever be free when I'm forced to fight for the rights of a human as If I'm nothing more than a beast. When will you ever let me be free. To feel, to live, to laugh, to love? When will you set me free so that I can finally be me

I pray everyday to be emancipated but you hunt me down with every step I try to make. Every time I try to break free I'm sentenced to fifty lashes of ridicule, hate and injustice. You sever my legs so that I know there's no running away from the truth. I'm not free.

I pray for the day I hold my lover's hand not pull away like reflexes when I feel someone approaching .

I pray for the day I stand beside my lover and not hope that we don't look inappropriately close.

I pray for the day I get to breathe and not feel overwhelmed with the secrets I'm forced to keep, or the lies I'm forced to speak every time I try to show who I am.

I pray for the day I get to pray and say "thank you father " and not whisper in fear," protect me please..." Only then will I be free, freedom for me will not only be a day.

 

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Inaugural Meeting on LGBTI Political Leadership in Latin America and the Caribbean




Caribbean delegation at the conference
The Inaugural Meeting on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) Political Leadership in Latin America and the Caribbean was held in Lima, Peru from September 4 – 6, 2014. The meeting, organized by PromSex (Peru), Caribe Afirmativo (Columbia) and The Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute (United States), saw more than 150 attendees representing organizations in more than 20 countries across Latin America and  the Caribbean including Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia,  Peru, Columbia, United States, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, Barbados, St. Lucia and others.
Over the course of three days, we were engaged in stimulating discussions on a number of areas in which LGBTI persons can contribute towards a political movement in their respective countries. We were specifically challenged to use the knowledge as best as we can to increase our political involvement.
The hosting of this inaugural meeting at a time when our country was facing political uncertainty due to the lack of Local Government Elections and the possibility of General Elections was not lost on me as I took in the words and advice from the speakers in attendance while I listened to their strategies, struggles and experiences. The inspiration drawn from the progress made by our brothers and sisters from Latin America provided an impetus to return to Guyana and become more active in the work that is being done by advocates across all fields.


Part of the Caribbean contingent in Peru
Throughout our meeting there were several different plenary sessions which covered many areas and featured a plethora of different participants as they discussed various topics such as Assessing the Progress and Challenges in the future of LGBTI persons in Political Leadership, The Challenges and Strategies of LGBTI Leaders in Political Parties, and The Challenge of Integrating one’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity into a Political Agenda.  While there were many of these sessions, there were also several smaller workshops which provided specific insights on various agendas, including being provided with key information and tools that are necessary towards creating a good campaign.
On many of the panels sat persons who brought their unique style and diverse experience to share as there were discussions that featured LBGTI persons who are part of the political process in their cities such as the Mayor of Long Beach California. There were high-level government employees, lawyers, political scientists, and university professors from the many countries in attendance.
These sessions were often well moderated but as a testament to the stimulating nature of the discussions, many of the sessions lasted longer than the projected time as the attendees engaged in discussions. The questions were many by those in the audience and the experts did a fabulous job of answering, engaging the audience and providing their opinions and expertise on areas that they were questioned about. Maria Rachid who is a legislator from Argentina was a particular star with the crowd and there was indisputable respect for her and the work that she has done in her native country while also running a successful campaign to be elected by the public to hold office.
While for many of us in Guyana and across the Caribbean who still linger in the shadows of colonialism, expired traditions and outdated laws may raise an eyebrow at the thought of an openly LGBTI persons even remotely considering the idea being part of a political leadership, we should not let that thought derail our involvement. While in Peru we were given first-hand accounts of the strides that individual advocates were able to achieve such as Carlos Bruce who is an openly gay Congressman in Peru; Maria Rachid, lesbian Lawmaker from Argentina and others. We were reminded that simply being an active part of a movement or part of a group represents a level of participation which is firstly a start; we must then build on that start.
Selfie
At the end of this, which was my first international meeting representing SASOD, I came away with a sense of belonging and motivation. I came away feeling so energized that after reaching home and realizing that I was in four countries in less than a day trying to get back here. I was still motivated by many of the words and experiences that were shared. I came away after forming bonds with fellow advocates from the Caribbean which includes Colin Robinson (CAISO – Trinidad & Tobago), Erin Greene (SASH – Bahamas), Kenita Placide (United & Strong – St. Lucia), Mark Clifford (Pride in Action – Jamaica) and Peter Wickham (CADRES – Barbados) which I hope and trust will mature in great relationships that will help towards advancing the cause of LBGTI persons throughout Guyana and the Caribbean.

Carl Greaves
Board Member, SASOD – Guyana