Posts tagged ‘activism’

March 6, 2012

The Highway Re-route Movement – Crystal Boodhai.

Crystal has never been on TV before and has never been an activist – that was until a proposed highway was planned to go right through her home and her small rural community.

Our mission is to re-route the proposed highway from Debe to Mon Desir.
This re-routing will:
Save Our Homes
Save Our Wetlands
Save Our Schools
Save Our Communities
Save Our Ameridian Heritage Site
Save Our Halfway Home

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January 7, 2012

History of ACT UP

In a previous blog post I noted that I will be working with ACTUP.org  starting this year. Here is a  nice short introduction to the history of ACT UP that had been making the rounds – I first saw it posted by Randy Roberts Potts on Facebook.

December 21, 2011

In other developments….

Those of you who follow my serial postings might have noticed a wee gap for the last couple of days. This dry spell was occasioned by me being in the air en route to Toronto, sleep deprivation, my birthday and a few more martinis than might have been deemed absolutely necessary.  I am also working feverishly on Fodor’s  travel  chapters for my usual islands in a mad effort to finish them before Xmas. Those few things, however, pale in comparison to another development that has occurred recently – the folks at ACTUP.org have agreed to have me as part of their team which is dedicated to activism on a global scale in a variety of languages. I consider my inclusion to be a tremendous honor.

For those who don’t know the history of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) , it was founded in the 1980s in the midst of the AIDS crisis and became an hugely  influential force in moving the fight for LGBT rights forward .   Wikipedia has an extensive entry about the colorful history of ACT UP:

ACT UP was effectively formed in March 1987 at the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center in New YorkLarry Kramer was asked to speak as part of a rotating speaker series, and his well-attended speech focused on action to fight AIDS. Kramer spoke out against the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), which he perceived as politically impotent. Kramer had co-founded the GMHC but had resigned from its board of directors in 1983. According to Douglas Crimp, Kramer posed a question to the audience: “Do we want to start a new organization devoted to political action?” The answer was “a resounding yes.” Approximately 300 people met two days later to form ACT UP.[2]

ACT UP was effectively formed in March 1987 at the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center in New YorkLarry Kramer was asked to speak as part of a rotating speaker series, and his well-attended speech focused on action to fight AIDS. Kramer spoke out against the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), which he perceived as politically impotent. Kramer had co-founded the GMHC but had resigned from its board of directors in 1983. According to Douglas Crimp, Kramer posed a question to the audience: “Do we want to start a new organization devoted to political action?” The answer was “a resounding yes.” Approximately 300 people met two days later to form ACT UP.[2]

Read the entry here.

This blog will, of course, continue with its heady mix of subjects but there will undoubtedly be an increased cross-posting of  links to articles and news on ACTUP.org.

Looking forward even more to 2012 now.

 

December 13, 2011

Preaching the Gospel of Hate

On Sunday the Trinidad Express published a vile advertisement that can only be described as hateful, mean spirited and  a pack of lies. I missed the ad when it ran but thanks to Colin of CAISO|GSPOTT posting it on Facebook it became a subject of much discussion and anger. Naturally, as is typical of such adverts, the usual suspects are mentioned as the saviors of  LGBT people – the ‘pray the gay away’ crowd of evil clowns.

Reputable psychological associations worldwide and even the WHO have indicated that human sexuality is naturally diverse and being lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans is not in any way shape or form a mental illness. Of  course the advertisement doesn’t even use any of those terms because they show that sexuality is only part of the equation that makes us human and also includes such things as gender identity.  The  people who write and publish such things don’t really care about the people they condemn –  they are just fodder for their  moral egos – humanity has no place in their warped and blinkered world. Even they can’t  honestly believe the rubbish they write.

They say they are doing it to save LGBT people from certain hell while doing an excellent job of creating a hell for them in the here and now. If they really want to save large numbers of people from Hades perhaps they should take out ads condemning the wrongs of Islam or Hinduism – there are a lot more Muslims and Hindus than there are LGBT people I assume. The problem is they can’t. Most countries including Trinidad and Tobago have strong laws against inciting religious hatred. So what the bullies do is pick on the ultimate marginalized and often not legally protected group – queer people.

Unable to fight inexorable progress towards full equality in their home countries ( or having lost the fight in places like Canada) they are now trying to export their hateful ideas to the developing world – often in countries where LGBT people’s lives are already threatened.  It is ironic that the advertisement here was placed one day after World Human Right’s Day and a few days after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s groundbreaking speech to the UN on equal rights for LGBT people.

One can safely assume  that any intelligent person would find the ad laughable and dismiss it ( quite rightly) as a feeble attempt by nasty bigots to inflict harm on another group – that is not the worry. The real worry is that some little kid somewhere who is beginning to feel the first stirrings of his or her  attractions might see it and genuinely believe he or she is ‘broken’. If a kid feels he or she is ‘broken’ and knows instinctively that he or she cannot change – they might pursue that one avenue that has seen us lose so many great kids over the years.  The only ‘broken’ people are the ones who can’t love and accept, who can’t resist imposing their beliefs on others, who don’t care about the hurt and damage they can cause and who are the very hypocrites that their Jesus would have soundly condemned.

They should remember that their savior spent his short life with people on the margins preaching the message of love.  They need to remember words ascribed to Jesus at the Last Supper – “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love “one another.”  They also need to go back to the New Testament and count how many times Jesus discussed the ‘sin’ of  homosexuality.

There are some people in T&T and around the world who aren’t taking this hateful ad placement on the chin. A petition is being circulated demanding that the Trinidad Express apologize for publishing it.  Please sign it as every signature makes a difference. As my  friend Bruce in Nova Scotia  points out there is some problematic wording about ‘lifestyle’  ( it isn’t a lifestyle – it is a life) in the petition but we can forgive that for the while as the general point is still there.

The other great news is that after I tweeted the lovely folks of ActUp.org , an international LGBT activism group, to retweet the petition  – they did – and they went further and posted it as a news article on their site.  Read it here.

It is sad that the petition is taking so long to build up momentum but given the fact that  gay sex is still criminalized in T&T (though seldom if ever applied) and there is still much stigma perhaps it isn’t that surprising. Still, standing up for our rights and the rights of others is a measure of our humanity and I am still hoping that more people show their humanity in this regard.

UPDATE

As a media advertising person who I used to work with just noted on a friend’s FB page –

Besides this advertisement being malicious and disgusting…it is also illegal. The Advertising Standards Authority prohibits ads to be published without a clear indication of who is paying for the ad and re-dress information. Letters should be sent to the Media Complaints Council (800-4622); Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association (TTPBA); Chamber of Commerce (Media Committee); and MATT.

February 2, 2011

They’re at the gate and you can’t ignore them.

The events in Cairo have been unsettling today to put it mildly. Anyone who has the slightest belief that all people have a right to be heard by their government  and to have their fundamental rights protected cannot fail to be horrified. After over a week of relatively peaceful protest so-called pro-Mubarak rental mobs have suddenly appeared on the scene inciting violence. A situation that an Al Jazeera anchor has described as the Egyptian Government  exploring the Nero option.

I don’t have many connections with Egypt, but like many around the world who believe in human rights and the rights of people to have decent governments I am gripped by developments.  To see a leader so enamored with power after thirty years that he will cut off  the internet and set the police on his own people  speaks volumes about the depth of his own evil.

To me it is analogous  to numerous other  struggles going on within countries by groups of people who demand the right to be heard.  In the US and worldwide LGBT people are engaged in a battle for their own rights – often in countries where doing so puts their own lives in peril.  Just as  the poor and dispossessed around the world are also demanding that their governments provide a path to economic and social improvement. There is something about the human spirit that forces us to eventually reach the end of our leash and demand our rights. The threshold may take years to reach or sometimes it only comes when some other factor like technology allows for empowerment and organization.

Facebook and Twitter may have been accelerants for the  initial protests in Egypt and Tunisia but they just made things more convenient for activists. History will tell us that Russia, the USA and France didn’t need  modern social networking to have real change and neither do Tunisia or Egypt.  Successful activists of all sorts will make use of any tools available. In this case they were also able to use emergency tools provided by tech giants like Google and ISPs in other countries that reached out to countermand Mubarak’s censorship of  free communication.

Mubarak must come to terms that the Barbarians may well be at the gate – but he’s in their house.

January 28, 2011

Social Networking – The New Human Rights Weapon

The last few days have seen an extraordinary thing happen in the Arab world. People in Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan and now Egypt are flexing their power and making demands for change. Such has always been the case in the world when despots drive their people to the end of their patience – but these are developments with a difference. For the first time an unhappy population doesn’t have to resort to furtive meetings in dark rooms or flyers pasted on walls in the dead of night. Activists now have the most powerful communication tool on the planet that we call social networking.

A few years ago Twitter and Facebook didn’t exist but now they are a powerful tool for groups looking to coordinate activist events or for rallying people of similar mind to support a cause. The LGBT community has embraced the possibilities better than most and organizations  such as the Trevor Project are  using the internet to great effect  to stop the scourge of bullying. Social networking, without intending it, became the  magic tool for organizing large numbers of people seeking to make a difference. Like the old shampoo advert says ” you tell two friends and they tell two friends and so on and so on.”

Even in the developing world once one person has a smart phone or computer access they can reach hundreds of their friends. New social networking meets old-fashioned social networking.

Nobody knows what will happen in Egypt as the arrogant and clueless Mubarak seems completely out of touch with the mood of the people he governs without  legitimacy. One thing is sure – those of us who connect across borders and embrace this technology can achieve change. We can meet like-minded people and expand our knowledge of issues that affect our communities and that, as Martha Stewart says, is a good thing.

On a final note, Al Jazeera TV is to be commended for  some seriously excellent coverage and commentary. Sometimes old media shines too.