“Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.”

Born in the womb of two brothas that (not only) I love, respekt en admire so, there’s a story I know that goes like El-Farouk Khaki en Troy Jackson seeded Human Positive last year, in response to the backlash that the brothas received for publicly standing in support of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, Palestinian rights, and criticising the state of Israel. Or so one version of the hadithi (story) goes…

Dis grassroots organisation has been nourished in expanding el-tawhid families (of loving ‘mis-fits’) en evolving collectives of muslim (identified) folks, and is rooted in principles of big love like salaam and ubuntu. Or so another version of the hadithi goes….

The bigger point is, big tings a gwaan with H.P’s programming for next year…..

These are some of the (s)heroes of the Q_t werd: a doc exploring (as ) many intersections of our diversity (as we can), and the possibilities of building revolushunary solidarity, in dub: in a caravan of us-people hadithi of (our vision) quests.

The riddle of the sphinx is in the connecshuns among the legends of GALCK, Human Positive, Fahamu, The People Project, Bredrin en dadas in solidarity, Nneka and Nneke Dumela

coming soon to a theatre in our hood

a is for mama afrika

b is for black august…

en Q/T is for our (vision) quest

(re) introducing the q[/t] werd: a video diary

It ain’t no mystery that we (been) preparing for dis’ (not-so) new film & video projects: nekkyd & the Q[/T] werd. 

season 1 features 32[+4]stories en the magic is in  retelling of OUR stories

some of the [extra] ordinary people featured [en behind the scenes] include: anitafrika dub theatre, blackness yes! and blockorama, bombastic kasha, bunge la mwananchi, bredrin and dadas in solidarity, colour me dragg, [is] the crux, deb singh, Elijah Masinde, elimu sanifu, faith Nolan, funkasia, the funketeers, gender education and advocacy project, house of munro, Ishtar, kalmplex, nikki mawanda, nneke dumele, red lips. cages for black girls, swagger, tajudeen abdul raheem, victor mukasa, en the Yoruba house project

A love letter to rafikis, [aka.] bredrin and dadas in solidarity.

 

b is for blackness yes! and blockorama

an(other) open letter to pride toronto

Dear committee (and communities)

Thank you for the (growing) fiya this time, evident not only with word on the ground, the press conference featuring the return of accolades by 20+ former Pride grand marshals, honoured dykes and award recipients, but even more poignantly in the packed house that was the “our pride includes free speech” community meeting.

Clearly, we the people are not, have never been in the minority, and there are more of us who are fed up with the oppressive trends that have pride toronto aligned not WITH  the community but with the ‘big boys’….

In the spirit of rebuilding solidarity, I offer one other example of the many gaps that we have all the power to redress…..

 If I was to (not so) randomly pick just one request for funding as a concrete example of where to divert some of the proceeds from ‘Pride’, it would be (something like) alexa’s story.

http://www.gaykenya.com/our-activities/equality-fund/3707.html

Given the efficient corporate machine the committee has been for years now (depending on where you look at it from), token monetary awards to more LGBTTIQ individuals and groups in poorer nations would be another concrete way to not only build solidarity among global queer/trans communities but steps closer to (re)politicizing the mission of Pride being carried out by ‘the powers that be’……yes, the community discussions are important, but to make it plain, we need more than all this talk……

The Shame awards that were presented to the ‘official’ Pride Toronto committee and the return of so many awards by previous honoured folks this morning, is one of the many obvious signs that the decision to ban Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) because of the words ‘israeli apartheid’ is one in a long line of historical shifts that have distanced the committee from the ‘realness’ in the diversity of our communities.

The truth is that all the missteps of the committee are fingers pointed straight at our own complacency and distance from the political work behind not only our own civil rights, but those of brothers and sisters around the world.

The truth is, the fight for peace is far from over, and as much as we have alot to celebrate, we cannot rest until all oppressed people are also free. It should be more simple really, like this hadithi…..

ALEXA’S STORY: BANDA PROJECT

In February 2010, the LGBTI community in Mtwapa experienced an unprecedented attack from neighbors fueled by various rumored versions of a gay wedding. The most repeated version was that a popular gay man joked to his barber during a haircut that he was grooming himself up to get married to his boyfriend. The barber took offense and reported news of the planned gay wedding to his local mosque. The congregation was then instructed by their imam to monitor social events that weekend. Local radio stations, Kaya FM, Baraka FM and Rahma FM and national stations Kiss FM and Classic FM were to pick up the story and run with it. Together the stations have a great grassroots reach and influence.

On the said wedding day, angry youth stormed KEMRI offices in Kilifi to flush out the gay couple that was to wed. Yusuf X. “Alexa” was considered partner to the groom, the media covered his story and published his pictures. 

Alexa is now much sought after in his hometown. GALCK has since resettled him in Nairobi, but he wishes to relocate to Voi to start a business, and continue with his life.

Alexa shared a business proposal to manage a banda (food kiosk) in Voi, serving Coastal delicacies and fast foods. He will also stock telephone airtime. Voi is moderately promising for business and prospective clients will include mostly middle level income residents and travelers.

 

Budget (in Kenya shillings)

  Unit Unit Cost Total
       
Resettlement Costs      
Transportation, Nairobi-Mombasa-Voi 1 8000 8000
House Rent: Deposit, 2 months Rent 3 4500 13500
House Utilities (Electricity, Water): Deposits, 2 months 3 2000 6000
Food, Upkeep, Emergencies, First month 1 10000 10000
Business Costs      
Banda Rent: Deposit, 2 months Rent 3 3500 10500
Banda Utilities (Electricity, Water, Gas): Deposits, 2 months 3 3000 9000
Banda Opening Stock 1 20000 20000
Banda Set Up: Kitchenware, Furniture, Misc. 1 16000 16000
Administration Costs      
Transport, FB Accommodation, 5 visits, 1 staff 5 6000 30000
Phone follow ups 10 100 1000
Alexa, survey trip: Transport, FB Accommodation 1 6000 6000
Discretionary Funds (Contingencies, Emergencies) 1 10000 10000
  Total:   140,000

 

Monitoring and Evaluation

An Organizing Committee of the G-Kenya Trust Executive, and Board of the Equality Fund is formed to provide oversight for the Banda Project.

The Advocacy and Media Liaison at G-Kenya Trust will supervise the Banda Project by:

 1.    Accompanying Alexa on an initial visit to Voi to survey the neighborhood, and confirm budget lines, and the viability of the business plan—tentatively on the weekend of June 8th/9th.

2.       Reporting on the initial survey visit, discussing proposed timelines for implementation, and seeking approval for implementation of the project from the Organizing Committee in the week ending June 11th.

3.       Accompanying Alexa on a second visit to implement the project, i.e.: purchase of materials and stock, signing of leases, and utility contracts, tentatively by the weekend of June 11th/12th.

4.      Phone monitoring and supporting Alexa on the progress and challenges of the business every two weeks between June 15th and September 15th.

5.       Physical monitoring (visiting) thrice, to track growth, and challenges, on or around the weekends of July 16th, August 20th and September 17th, evaluating project challenges and seeking appropriate institutional remedies.

6.      Reporting monthly, after every physical visit, to the Organizing Committee on the progress of the project.

Donations

Please send donations via:

M-Pesa to 0700 718585

Direct Debit to the Kenya Gay and Lesbian Trust, Account No.: CA2-1200004266, NIC Bank Ltd., NIC House, Masaba Rd.

(Please call us on [+254] 0700 718585 after the transaction so we can confirm receipt).

http://www.gaykenya.com/

blogger’s note: and in other (q werd) news on the ground, with more steps forward, Brazil’s President Lula decrees National Day Against Homophobia…….

Attending the request of ABGLT (Brazilian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexuals and Trans Association), on Friday June 4th, Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, (on the eve of São Paulo’s 14th LGBT Pride March,)  signed a decree creating the National Day Against Homophobia, to be commemorated annually on May 17th. The Decree was published in the Official Gazette, today, Monday June 7th (text below).

The news was received on Friday evening by ABGLT’s president during the 10th Citizenship and Respect for Diversity Awards, held by the São Paulo LGBT Pride Association.   

According to Toni Reis, ABGLT’s president, “the Decree is the governmental recognition that homophobia exists in Brazil and that concrete actions are needed to reduce or eliminate prejudice, discrimination and stigma against the LGBT community. We hope that Brazil’s example will be followed by the 75 countries where homosexuality is a crime and in the 7 countries where the death penalty exists for homosexuals”, he said. Reis also congratulated the federal government, in particular the Human Rights Secretariat of the President’s Office, for its efforts in approving the Decree.

The Decree adds to the list of honoured campaign proposals made prior to president Lula’s second term of office (2007-2010): the continuity of the Brazil Without Homophobia Programme; the holding of the 1st National LGBT Conference; the creation of the National LGBT Coordination, the National LGBT Council and the National Plan to Promote LGBT Citizenship and Human Rights. While the national Legislative Branch has failed to approve any laws that would guarantee the equal rights of the LGBT community, the Judiciary and Executive Branches have shown, through decisions and actions, that Brazil respects its Federal Constitution, articles 3 and 5 of which state that there will be no discrimination and that all people are equal before the law, without distinction of any nature. 

May 17th 1990 was the date on which the World Health Assembly, the World Health Organizations highest decision making body, removed homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases. Since then the data has been celebrated internationally as the Day Against Homophobia.

It is one of ABGLT’s strategies that the Brazilian states and municipalities recognize the Day Against Homophobia through laws or decrees. The day already exists officially in 9 states: Amazonas, Distrito Federal, Espírito Santo, Goiás, Minas Gerais, Pará, Paraíba, Paraná and Santa Catarina; and in at least 15 municipalities: Lauro de Freitas-BA, Alfenas-MG, Itaúna-MG,

Cuiabá-MT, Rondonópolis-MT, Picos-PI, Curitiba-PR, Francisco Beltrão-PR, Natal-RN, Mesquita-RJ, Rio Grande-RS, Florianópolis-SC, Joinville-SC, Campinas-SP and Ribeirão Preto-SP (www.abglt.org.br/port/leis_homofobia.php)

Further information

 Toni Reis – President, ABGLT: +55 41 9602 8906

Carlos Magno – Communications Secretary, ABGLT: +55 31 8817 1170

 DECREE DATED JUNE 4TH 2010 

Creates the National Day Against Homophobia.

THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC, in the use of the attributions conferred upon him by article 84, items II and VI, sub-item “a”, of the Federal Constitution,

 

D E C R E E S :

 

Article. 1 – May 17th is hereby established as the National Day Against Homophobia.

 

Article 2 – This Decree shall come into force on the date of its publication.

 

Brasília, June 4th 2010; 189th year of Independence and 122nd year of the Republic.

 

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA

Paulo de Tarso Vannuchi

 

(Official Gazette.  No. 106, Monday June 7th 2010, Section 1 – Page 5)

I give thanks for El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (aka. Malcolm X), for (t)his birth (to)day, en for tomorrow, for the fruits of the work that not only (baba) Malcolm but so many other of our ancestors have done in liberating themselves en ‘other’ (people)s…

 

I give thanks for African Liberation Day (on May 25th), which is (depending on one’s ‘politics’) the biggest holiday of the year for (all) Afrikans, or more like, should be…. afrika moja!

Dis’  litany of love (en survival)  is embodied in ‘our’ symbols of resistance and the struggle of ‘everyday’, it explores the ‘other’ pieces of (where we) coming OUT from and embraces those ‘intersections’ in our diversity that (should) remind us we are all (from) one (Mama Afrika)….

so I give thanks for the work that the warriors of Blackness Yes! & Blockorama do to maintain positive & safe spaces for queer & trans folk of Afrikan descent, and for the folks who continue to do what they can to transform  not only themselves, but our communities for betta….

Like (in) dis’ litany of  pan-Afrikan realities sent out a moon ago, from (some of) the ones we’ve been looking for…ase.

April 19, 2010,

Dear Pride Toronto,

Thank you all for attending the community meeting on Tuesday, April 13, 2010 to discuss the proposed move of Blockorama. At this meeting you were able to see the passion our community feels for Blockorama. Our communities came out Tuesday to support Blockorama because it is created by and for community, with a deep sense of ownership by the community. We would also like to thank you for your letter, dated April 15, 2010.

Since 1998 Blockorama has been a party at Pride where black queer and trans folks, their allies, supporters and people who love them came together to say no to homophobia in black communities and no to racism in LGBTQ communities. To say Blackness Yes at Pride – loud and proud. Pride Toronto’s inability to lead on racism in the LGBTQ communities and homophobia in black communities sends a strong signal to black queer and trans communities and their allies everywhere.

We have built Blockorama out of love, through sweat and toiling. For 12 years, we have claimed space, resisted erasure, found community, shared memories, built bridges, embraced sexuality, and found home. Blockorama is not just a party or a stage at Pride. It is a meeting place for black queer and trans people across North America- Blockorama is the largest space of its kind at any Pride festival on the continent.

Black queer and trans communities have been central to the diversity of Pride. At the same time Pride Toronto as an organization has continually marginalized those communities. It is indeed those communities that enable Pride to be the celebration of sexual life and freedoms that we all cherish. Pride Toronto’s inability to recognize its own constituencies is not only sad and disappointing it is indeed politically naïve and damaging to the still necessary struggles around sexual freedom in our city, province and country.

It has been incredibly frustrating to have our concerns regarding the space for Blockorama at Pride be not taken seriously by the arts and entertainment manager at Pride. It is very unfortunate that communication seems to be an issue for Pride Toronto, and that so much institutional memory has been lost through the many transitions that Pride has gone through over the last 2 years. We are glad to have begun a conversation about how to rebuild our connections with Pride Toronto.

Based on the feedback we have received from our communities following Tuesday’s meeting and what was offered through your letter, we are prepared to accept the following:

1. A full stage and infrastructure in George Hislop Parkette on Sunday July 4, 2010. This infrastructure will include power, insurance, tents, tables/chairs, toilets,
garbage removal, insurance, permits and fees, security, tech costs and labour.

We assume that the other site requests previously made available to us (pizza and water for volunteers, barricades to which we secure our banners, etc) will, although not mentioned in your letter, still be made available to us.

2. A reciprocal commitment from Blackness Yes and Pride Toronto to respond to emails with 48 hours of receiving them and to check in with each other (by phone or email) at least twice per week from now until the end of the 2010 Pride Week Festival.

3. We agree to your request for programming information to be provided to Pride Toronto no later than April 21st. In fact, we had already submitted this programming information before receipt of your letter.

4. We agree to the request for information for the Pride Guide to be submitted no later than April 21st.

We will provide you with:

o A 100 word intro blurb;
o Two 50 word blurbs for artists’ spotlights;
o Any photos associated with those artists in high resolution (300 dpi);
o A 100 word blurb about Blackness Yes and a relevant photo.

5. We are committed to and have always adhered to Pride Toronto deadlines for
information on Site Logistics, Tech, Press etc. We request that any changes to deadlines be given to us in a timely fashion to avoid any delay in information sharing.

6. We are happy to re-join the coordinators committee for Pride. We will send 2 delegates from Blackness Yes to each programming committee meeting as often as is manageable. We recognize that although some other programmers may be paid for their time, we are a volunteer-based committee. We welcome the opportunity to become reengaged with pride committee activities!

We are not able to accept the following offers at this time:

1. It will not be necessary for you to provide us with a Stage Manager for the weekend. We have a Blackness Yes member who will advance the show with the artists and ensure that the stage operates in a timely fashion.

2. We accept your offer to fund the previously agreed upon budget of $5000 for the Sunday stage. We also request that as in previous years, Pride Toronto cover the travel and hospitality fees of artists from out of town who are appearing on the Blockorama stage.

We feel that it is unfortunate that Pride chose to cancel stage-based programming in George Hislop without any consultation with the programmers who program that space. We understand that this decision has resulted in the re-allocation of the funding for this stage to other parts of the festival, thus now requiring Pride to find an “additional” $20,000 to create the stage in George Hislop. With proper consultation and collaboration, we could have worked together to both keep the needed funds for Blocko in the budget, and helped to save costs overall.

Your offer to program 2 full days in George Hislop Parkette is unfortunately not possible. This is not a viable offer as you have specified that you do not plan to cover any artist’s fees for Saturday programming. Although we welcome the opportunity to develop 2 days of programming, we cannot do so without money to develop this programming, and the suggestion that we do so is surprising. We welcome the opportunity to discuss options for 2 days of programming with adequate budget in the future.

Pride Toronto should not consider running programming for which local artists are not paid for their time. One of the wonderful things about the festival is that it engages artists and helps support the development of artistic practice in Toronto by paying artists to perform. Blackness Yes cannot consider developing any programming that would result in artists not being paid for their time and efforts.


We would like to request the following:

1. We request funding to rent a temporary floor for in front of the stage – something that can be used on the grass to facilitate dancing, to provide a less slippery and muddy experience for participants, and to deal with the regular rain flooding and seeping that we experience each year in George Hislop Parkette.

2. We thank you for the opportunity to commit to the George Hislop space for both the 2010 and 2011 festivals. However we can only commit to 2010 at this time. We would like to set a date to begin working together shortly after Pride 2010 to find a more suitable long-term home for Blockorama.

3. We note that in 2002, Pride’s entertainment budget was $31,040; and the Blockorama stage received $2500 or 8% of overall entertainment budget. This year, Pride’s entertainment budget is has increased to $335,027, yet Blockorama is received only $5000 or roughly about 1.4%. We would like to know why the proportional allotment for our stage is shrinking despite increased money in the entertainment budget?

4. We support the use of the stage on Saturday by other community groups and we encourage one of the 4 paid programming staff at Pride to outreach to some of the communities currently not represented at Pride to help program the stage. We feel strongly that artists fees should be paid for any artists that play on Saturday’s stage.

We are concerned about the steady removal of community involvement from the structure of Pride Toronto over the past 2 years. As an independent committee programming a stage at Pride, we recognize how far Pride has to go to ensuring that it’s programming is reflective of the diversity of Toronto. We encourage and support all community groups currently marginalized by Pride Toronto, and/or the larger LGBTTI2QQ set of communities in Toronto.

There are many other communities that should also have Pride Toronto’s full commitment and engagement to develop relevant programming at the festival (First Nations and Indigenous people, LGBTTI2QQ people who are Deaf and those with Disabilities, and many many others) and we encourage Pride to connect with and engage these communities. We are disappointed that this year has seen communities pitted against each other – competing for stage space and funding at Pride.

It is also very unfortunate that Pride has distanced itself from so many of the communities that helped build the LGBTTI2QQ activist movement. Racialized queer and trans people, many of whom were street-involved, working class and poor started both the Stonewall and Compton Cafeteria riots that kick-started the “gay liberation movement” in North America. It is on the backs of racialized and working class queer and trans people that mainstream queer organizations like Pride Toronto have been built.

Yet for many of these same people, Pride is now an inaccessible space, one that is not representative of them in any way, shape or form. Many of these revolutionaries that began the riots would not be able to afford the beer gardens (or this year’s Prism main stage party) that have become the cornerstones of the Pride festival.

We wonder if they would be banned from the parade for carrying posters that make people uncomfortable- posters calling for an end to targeted policing of Trans people, calling to an end to systemic racism and homophobia, and demanding the right to sexual freedom and the right to self-identified gender expression. These words of resistance have consistently made certain people uncomfortable, but they have been crucial to the struggle for liberation and self determination of LGBTTI2QQ people.

Blackness Yes is committed to creating a space by and for Black/African Diasporic queer and trans people and all of their allies and supporters at Pride. Blockorama will always remain a political space for resistance and celebration, and we stand in solidarity with so many other groups that have been left out or forcibly excluded from Pride. We will also work to produce a Blockorama that returns to its roots. A Blocko organized by and for a supportive community that has been dancing, laughing, loving and eating at Blocko now for over more than a decade.

Thank you,

Blackness Yes!
Blockorama Coordinating Committee

Tessa C. Duplessis
Mykell Hall
Nigel Holbrook
Abdi Osman
Nik Redman
Syrus M. Ware
Kyisha Williams
Akhaji Zakiya

in the spirit of organising (en not agonising), I present to you more material for critical thinking.

In previous posts, I have posed questions and issues of working on our unity.

I have advanced the premise, both implicitly and explicitly, that we have alot of untapped resources and unaccounted privileges as queers and trannies living in North America. That we need to divert and subvert these resources  to support activism on the continent. I have posited that some of the major gaps thus far have been ignorance & complacency. to put it simply, we’re caught up in ourselves, and the realities of survival on Turtle Island.

But that is not enough, because as much as, particularly as queer/trans people of colour, we face an intersection of oppressions. and we’re struggling to carve and maintain our own spaces here. we also have to acknowledge that things could be much worse. and many queer/trans immigrants will recount  to you stories of differences. that is why many of us are here, we have made toronto our homes, or tdot has always being our home, or it’s an exile, or it’s none of these. Whatever the case may be, we also have enduring connections with other lands, where the situation for queer/trans people is drastically different.

and the reality is that we DO have alot. we have  pride, our own papers, we have communities spread all over the country, we have same-sex marriage, and we can wax political about the (right wing) gay agenda, and the commodification of queer cultures, but at least we got visible cultures to commodify, and locations to resist from. we’ve got bathhouses, and the 519.  we’ve got ACT  and TEACH,  the Inside out festival & mpenzi black womyn’s festival. you should know what we got. we’ve got love and resistance.

For those of you who are wondering, what next, those who are getting tired of the seemingly endless theoretical debates on identity politics….i posit that the next frontier is fighting for global rights. None of us is free, as long as some, or one of us is oppressed. It can/should be as simple as that.

So as a queer & trans person, you are implicitly invested in the needs of queer & trans communities worldwide. As an Afrikan, you are implicitly invested in the liberation of all Afrikan peoples. or at least, that’s the dream.

I chose this video interview piece to continue the series that I’ve just introduced. I’ll put up the rest of the links under the u people category. there are 2 more presentations in that panel discussion by Zanele Muholi & Gareth Henry.

we are the ones we’re looking for

 

I don’t have a petition (yet) to present you in protest of the anti homosexuality bill, but in the spirit of building solidarity amongst queer/trans communities globally. I offer another presentation to reflect on. the volume on this video is low, and it’s only the first part of a longer panel discussion on global human rights for queers that was held before the Pride parade in June, in Toronto. But the content and message is the point of this blog.

and I offer you only more questions, what do you think the nomination of one of Afrika’s leading queer/trans activists, Victor Mukasa, symbolises for queer/trans activism in East Afrika?

 I’m still developing my critical analysis of the impact of this nomination on the community, I’m still waiting for more. and I’m in a particularly powerful place right now to assess the aftermath and some of the consequences of recognition such as this nomination in particular.

And what I’m interested is deepening that interest that a cross section of people have, and that enduring commitment to workign for queer/trans rights in Afrika. but we need more people, doing more. we need money, we need capacity building in our organisations.

we need to be able to earn a living wage while working. and we need to take care of ourselves. and pay attention to our safety. we need to address the abuse and violence not only from out/side, but most significantly, within our communities.

we need all the programs that folks are working on, with/in the gay and lesbian coalition of kenya (GALCK); ishtar MSM;  gay kenya; transgender education and advocacy;  minority women in action; sexual minorities uganda; freedom and roam uganda; transgender, intersex, transsexual; TALESA, all of these organisations and more…..I mention just the ones I know or have heard most about.

if you think there’s something you can help with, then follow up with whom/ever and whenever you wish. If you’re in Toronto, then I can meet up with you. Yes, I am shamelessy group promoting here, but who betta to do it? I may not have many answers but I’m working on finding them. and there are a few programs I’m working on that I need help with.

I’ve already posted the outline for one of those programs, A0101 workshops.

I am also building the curriculum for a womyn’s circle fo healing and self recovery (a space for afrikan womyn & trans folk to draw on the wealth of indigenous african knowledge to re/learn ways of living sustainably. where we can have a safe space to reclaim our sexuality and gender identity, and commune, reason and teach other)

and when I say I, I mean we, because there are a few of us, and we’re looking for more help.

we are also implementing a queer/trans youth arts collective next year. this will be a series of workshops that will teach media making skills to young people. because we need to take up space and tell our own stories. because we need to re/educate ourselves.

we have set up advisory committees for all 3 of these programs with a max. of 15 people on each of the organising committees. we are still recruiting more (necesssary) people.

and these are just the programs I’m responsible for. there are more activities and programs that we’re working on in MWA.. and there are different programs that all the organisations are working on.

 

yes, we are recruiting.

get involved.

 

Global Human Rights For Queers pt 1