the truth about stories is…they’re all we got….you can do anything you want with this one, it’s yours for the taking….share it with others, forget it, criticise the strategies, fill in the gaps, but don’t say you’d have lived your life differently, if (only) you knew, now you know.
here’s another transcript fresh off the presses….this shit is live!
There was extended discussion on what people had experienced or heard post the Pulse and Nation marriage article. The reactions have been varied and disturbing. There has been increased hate mail received at GALCK that is disconcerting for all that use the center and this issue will be discussed further at the next GALCK meeting.
There also seemed to be an increase in hostility towards the community. Some of the stories shared last night included the following:
1. One member was attacked in her neighbourhood as she went home the Friday after the Pulse article came out. Three men stopped her and punched her till she was bloody. She is also about to be evicted from her workplace because she is a lesbian. The community has always known she was a lesbian and there had been no problems. Why the attack now?
2. Individuals whose pictures were on the Pulse magazine had major challenges with their families. Two of the individuals had their mothers become hysterical after neighbours shared the pictures from the newspapers.
One of those individuals has moved out of the house and town to try and figure things out. The third individual in the picture had to alter his movements in his neighbourhood to ensure that he is not attacked. Of course they have all suffered tremendous stress and hardships over the situation.
3. A GALCK staff member who went to collect the keys for a new post office box was delayed at the office for hours and informed that she would have to wait and meet the Director of the office. There was a lot of murmur by the office staff and some actually coming over to gawk at her and see, I guess, what a lesbian looks like.
Luckily for her, plus her great way with people, she was able to turn a rather hostile engagement to one that was more amicable. The post office official informed her that she would need to meet with her lawyers first to be clear about opening a P O Box for an LGBTI group and she would get back to her later in the week. As the GALCK staff member left the post office, the officer told her that she would pray for her and her like.
With these types of reaction you can see that there was real debate about the community responding to the media. Would a response only escalate the situation? After much debate there was agreement that some form of response from the community must be generated. Silence was not seen as the answer to the situation. LGBTI individuals would continue to get attacked whether there was a response or not.
However there was agreement that there would have to be a strategic response that took into consideration the actual risks the community faces at this time.
There was then a discussion of what strategic issues or responses the group should think about in terms of responding. The following were points brought up in terms of a response:
1. The need to utilize personal stories. These can never be refuted since one is talking from their own personal experience.
2. Awareness creation of the reality of LGBTI Kenyans. Everyone agreed that the larger society is incredibly uninformed about homosexuality and LGBTI individuals. There is need to provide basic information on the community.
3. Need to base the conversation about LBGTI communities within a human rights framework. Kenyans have been inundated with human rights discussions from a number of years now and this would simply be about expanding that discussion to include LGBTI communities.
4. Whatever rules and procedures are agreed by the community on engaging with the media must be strictly adhered to for this community response to be successful
5. There is need to prioritize the public health perspective in responding to the media. HIV/AIDS is understood by many in the society and any situation like the present situation where a segment of the society is sidelined including from accessing health care services simply for who they are would not be tolerated.
6. It must be made clear to the media that same sex marriage IS NOT a priority for the LGBTI community in Kenya period. This is a story they have generated and there are many other very pressing concerns for the community. It was also stressed that even if the issue is not brought up at an interview the point should still be made.
7. The move by the LGBTI community to challenge the existing colonial hold-over draconian laws is to make health care and other servicesavailable to the community ( utilizing a Public Health approach)
8. Need to pick which media houses to engage with. There are friendly media houses and journalists and they should be the ones targeted with our statement.
9. Need to engage with human rights, civil society and health allies on this situation.
A. It was agreed that the community generate a statement that incorporates the following areas:
1. A health and human rights perspective
2. Same sex unions are not a Kenyan LGBTI priority
3. There are LGBTI Kenyan citizens, who are just regular folk, who work, pay taxes, face all the problems that Kenyans do and are committed to the development of a country that is prosperous and respectful of ALL of its citizens.
A group was constituted to generate the first draft that will be presented at the next GALCK meeting.
B. There was a question as to why the interest in the community now. There have been many parties and LGBTI gatherings in Nairobi and Kenya over many years now. Why is the community being targeted at this time? There were those who felt that this was cyclic and that with a slow news week this was one issue to pick up.
However the majority felt that this may be a more calculated move by forces organized against the community to begin a campaign against the community. These forces were also seen as coming from within our own community. Considering what is happening in our neighboring countries it was felt that it was important for us to actually take the time to have more in-depth discussion and begin early strategizing if any such efforts are underway in our country.
There was recommendation that a Human Rights group take this organizing piece on. Akiba Uhaki was mentioned as the organization that could possibly lead this discussion forward.
I’ll stop here.
a concerned brotha.
More on everything at the PROTEST/BAHATI party next Wednesday @ the GladStone Hotel.
from 7:30 – 11:00pm,
we’re putting more of our own politics back into partying…..
en building solidarity within queer/trans communities.