Aired May 15, 2013. Brian Lewis – President, Trinidad & Tobago Olympic Committee on ieTV Channel 1.
In a word – Tobago. The wonderful Mt. Irvine Bay Hotel with friends. Shabby gentility in the best sense of the term.
I spent my evening at the Carlton Savannah ( my neighborhood hotel) for the Project Runway party again. This evening was special because I spent it with my twitter friend Haydn so that was plenty cool. Anya was not there but she will be back for next week. She was in NYC tonight but she was with us via Skype.
The always outspoken and delightful economist Robert Mayers on ieTV’s One on One program.
Jeanne Roach-Baptiste , Instructor at the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies on ieTV’s One on One program. Show aired April 4, 2011.
Trinidad Express Columnist Rajiv Gopie delivers another excellent column – this time a continuation of his series on LGBT issues in Trinidad and Tobago. In his latest he looks at myths surrounding the subject that, as is the case in many other parts of the world, are accepted as facts.
I have been posting a lot of things about the plight of LGBT kids who are frequently the victims of bullying and who have so much more to deal with as they try to find themselves. This is , of course, just part of a bigger picture as many adults around the world are also bullied simply because of their sexual identity – who they are. It ranges from overt threats of death as seen in proposed legislation in Uganda to more subtle versions in the US in the form of DADT and DOMA. Even in countries such as the one I consider home, Canada, there are still manifestations of hatred based on ignorance. LGBT Canadians and their supporters had a long struggle to bring Canada to a point where a guarantee of non-discrimination is included in the Charter of Rights. I know I was out there marching back in the day.
In Trinidad & Tobago ,where I am now working and living , there seems to be an emerging consciousness that one group is being deprived of basic rights that everyone should be entitled to. As the link in my last post might have illustrated, there is much homophobia here. It may be related to a high level of professed religious allegiance and a lower level of education and exposure to broader ideas – but it exists. There isn’t the overt and disgusting violent manifestation as is seen in Jamaica and, truth be told, there are even a few very out there characters who escape violence even though they are themselves in public places. They can do so as long as they don’t use the ‘G’ word. If they said “we need Gay and Lesbian rights!” they would probably be booed or attacked. The unspoken rule here is that you can be yourself but not if you make it a matter of civil rights. That is just plain wrong. To say that would mean that the rest of society is somehow threatened.
In recent days here we have seen the group CAISO that decided to mobilize against the arrival of an Ex-gay US minister in T&T. They decided to show up en masse to one of his lectures wearing protest T-shirts and ask him questions. It might not seem like much but it was a first for this country. Naturally, as has happened around the world, other parts of the LGBT community decided to argue over this action. Some said it was wrong to draw attention to the ridiculous man, others said that it would only cause a backlash from the religious community. Those points may have validity but to me the fact a group of young people chose to not care about social repercussions and decided to make a statement was important. It reminds me of Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project and the fact there was a backlash to that. Never mind he managed to get the US president to speak out on LGBT bullying ( though Hillary did a far better job) . Every little protest action is important in any rights movement. Trust me – I know.
CAISO has complained that they got no media coverage. I can’t speak for the rest of the media, as I have done several news items and interviews on related subjects, but late afternoon on a weekend is not the best time to hold such a thing as we are all stretched for cameramen. It also didn’t help that the Prime Minister had called a press conference at the same time. Word of advice send a press release of your intention to every media house.
I think it is time I bring back humor to my blog . The focus will stay but I need to be more myself and blend it with the issues I care about.
Still reading Simon LeVey’s amazing book Gay, Straight and the Reason Why: The Reason for Sexual Orientation. Everyone should buy it.
I have watched the documentary 8. the mormon proposition twice in the last few days. The first time I saw it I was alone and sat on my couch getting angrier and angrier that any group would oppose the right of two people to marry. The fact it was largely funded by a Utah based church with a history that would qualify it for an Oscar in hypocrisy made it all the more obscene. Here is a trailer for the film that I would urge everyone to see – it isn’t just about California – it is about how religions, protected by tax free status, can use their power to justify the continued inequity being meted out to one group of people.
The second time I saw it was the very next day when one of my best friends Alvin joined me for my evening walk and then came home with me to have dinner. I told him he had to see it and I watched it again with him. I saw him getting more and more irate and asking questions about the mormons ( I refuse to dignify them with a capital letter) to the point that I worried about any mormon who happened to be in his path as he headed home afterwards. Alvin is a strong and rare activist for the gay community in Trinidad and doesn’t seem to give a damn what people tell him. The film hurt him deeply and he is now getting even more active in raising his lone but loud voice to deal with the issues. I think it is important that we see films like this and read as many blogs and news sources as we can. The problem is not a California problem - it is a worldwide problem. As a Canadian I could say that equality is part of my constitution and forget the rest of the world – that would be plainly wrong. As long as there is a single person in the worldwide family who feels he or she is a second class citizen none of us should sleep easy.
Back to the film. It details the fight of the LGBT community in California ,who had only recently been allowed to marry,having to face a ballot proposition that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. It was a measure that the mormon church took very seriously as it was personally threatened by the notion of two people who love each other getting married. The film notes the irony of a church ,which is based in Utah solely because other Americans chased them there as they believed in polygamy , challenging another group over marriage. It is well constructed and shows the reality of lives being crushed without wandering into manipulation. The financial actions of the mormons were appalling and shamelessly secretive as illustrated by documents obtained by the filmmakers.
Prop 8 is still awaiting a court decision but I would urge anyone to join the NOH8 Campaign even if you don’t live in California. Sometimes worldwide support can help change things. Also, I don’t believe that religion has any special protection from criticism when it makes no sense . With that in mind I would like to point out that mormons have some seriously warped beliefs. God talks to your church elders personally? Really? The book just disappeared? Sure it did. Polygamy in the afterlife? Ummmm.
Hatred is an awful thing. I have no idea why people don’t see discrimination against the LGBT community as exactly the same as discrimination against any other group. Perhaps if they had an LGBT child they might understand. Whenever I see arguments using words like “choice” or “lifestyle” my blood boils. Seriously, why would anyone choose to be part of a group that suffers such prejudice? I would encourage anyone who thinks about using the choice argument to read some actual medical studies. Also, if you want to pick your fave Old Testament passages and use them as ammunition please ensure you read all the other weird things in there and follow them yourself.
As I was driving to my walking area this evening I actually saw two mormon missionaries in their short sleeved polyester shirts walking along the road – I am not one to hate but it was all I could do not to yank my Ford’s steering wheel in their direction. That is the sign of a good documentary. Or it could just be a sign of my hatred of white polyester shirts.
For the rest of us we can do small things. Let’s show NOH8 that the world cares, let’s write about teenage suicide and show how it reflects on a lack of acceptance and let’s just reach out and show that we care. This month has two big days coming up. October 11th is Coming Out Day – I think people should do that only if it is safe to do so and if they have a strong support network of friends.
More importantly to me, by far, is Spirit Day on October 20, 2010. To celebrate all the lives lost to suicide because of bullying and we have the sad deaths of six kids lately to make that a reality for all of us. Wear purple on October 20, 2010 – let’s show that the concern is worldwide.
And as always support GLAAD – as a media person I take them very seriously.
And the brave souls in Utah who work in the belly of the beast.
Well after a delayed ( and a long delay at that) return flight on Surname Airways and a ridiculous immigration line in Trinidad I am back on the ground and dealing with all that means. Peter P met me and he let me use his car to get home from his place and since my car is not fully serviced I am still using it. It was weird driving on the “right side” again but I managed at 1:30am when I was supposed to be back at 8:15pm the previous day. Cascade was normal looking until I rounded the curve and saw that the flood damage had affected my area. The security gates are stuck in the open position, all the vegetation was washed away and there were piles of mud everywhere.
My place is up on a hill so there was no damage in my living space but it was weird having to pass all the damage. I stayed at home on Friday as i had a lot of laundry and cleaning to do and did a quick trip to the grocery but that was the extent of my outings for the day. The mud on the main road has now turned to dust so Cascade feels like the place that the ABCs are normally. The irony is not lost on me.
I produced and anchored news on Saturday and just produced on Sunday so Giselle could do a perfect job of anchoring. Watching her read after 2 weeks was a great experience as I see how far she has come. I pray the Beeb does not snatch her from us as she is close to a perfect news reader now.
I still have to research Tobago and also Trinidad as despite living here much of the time there is a lot I have to get right as Fodor’s does not accept poor information and least of all my editors. This should be fun…I imagine my days will be very long between ieTV and Fodor’s for the next little while. Fun? What is that?
I will say, though, after this many years of doing this I really miss my friends on the ABC islands including Susan at Bucuti, Ricardo and Monique, Rolando, Anabela and Bobby from the wonderful Pinchos in Aruba, Stephen in Curacao ( what a revelation he was) , Delno Tromp from Bonaire and Curacao..so many great people. I am truly a lucky guy to have crossed paths with such wonderful people and I am hoping to do so again next year. Traveling is a revelation as you realize that we are all very similar and that goodness and generosity of heart transcend national boundaries.Though Susan is now back in Miami I think I miss her the most as we have an intellectual connection and I consider her a friend par excellence…they don’t come along that often …I wish her the best as she pursues her dreams and I hope she knows that.
Tomorrow I hope to get the hearse back and I will commence my interviews here on Tuesday. Fodor’s T&T will slip in somewhere in between the ABC writing. It will all come together. Having traveled on islands that have no natural drinking water but have managed I am dealing with the fact my condo, on an island full of fresh water, has no water at, all with a rather circumspect approach. If I say I am on vacation it all seems amusing and somehow better. Bucket bath anyone?