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)

blogger’s note: I know (many) stories of super/s/heroes that are changing tings on the ground in their communities….

The Q werd is starting with the ones that we’re familiar with, because if we don’t cherish en honour our own, then who will (do it better)?

Until we listen to the lionesses, the tales of hunting will be weak,

These are some of the (many) stars of the Q werd. The people are real. Na hadithi ni kweli pia….leo ni ya Millicent Gaika, Anelisa Mfo na Ndumie Funda of LulekiSizwe LBT

check out http://www.lulekisizwe.com 

 

A lesbian was allegedly beaten and raped repeatedly for five hours by a man who told her he wanted to “turn her into a woman”.

With both eyes swollen and bruised, stitches above her left eye and open wounds on her neck, Millicent Gaika, 30, of Gugulethu, haltingly told how a man she had known for years attacked and raped her repeatedly on Friday night. Her voice was husky from screaming.

Gaika alleged her attacker “acted like an animal who wanted to kill”.

He has been arrested and will appear in the Philippi Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

On Friday just after 10pm Gaika and her friends were walking home after spending the evening at a friend’s house in NY1. As they approached their home, a man, one of many tenants on the site, apparently asked Gaika for a cigarette.

She stayed to smoke with him while her friends walked on. A few minutes later, the man refused to pass the cigarette to Gaika and walked into his room.

When she followed him he allegedly locked the door. “He started hitting me and I fought back. Then he started doing what he did to me. He pulled off my clothes and pushed me down on the bed. He did it more than once. He was holding me down, strangling me and pushing his hands hard on to my neck.

“I thought he was going to kill me; he was like an animal. And he kept saying: ‘I know you are a lesbian. You are not a man, you think you are, but I am going to show you, you are a woman. I am going to make you pregnant. I am going to kill you.'”

Gaika said the man had never openly objected to her sexuality before. “He was very nice to me – I’d known him for years. I hate him now. I am just angry. I was swearing at him while he was doing this to me. I just wished I could die. I hate what he has done, he makes me sick.”

About 4am, after five hours of Gaika being raped, a neighbour knocked on the man’s door and demanded to know who was in the room with him.

A friend of Gaika’s who asked not to be named said: “The neighbour heard something and he insisted that the man open the door. Then he broke the window and the two men started fighting. Other neighbours came and eventually broke down the door and saw what was happening. The rapist wanted to run away, but we kept him there until the police came. Millicent was on the bed. She was only wearing her sweater and it was full of blood.”

The attack was not the first one. After she was raped by four men in 2002, Gaika told herself that it would never happen again and got her life back on track.

 Gaika said the four men had been convicted and were sentenced to between 10 and 15 years. “But after a few years, they got out and that was too little time… I saw them walking around here in Gugulethu again. I was angry but I got through it and I wasn’t scared. But this time it was worse, much worse. Now I am scared, I don’t trust men. I don’t know if I am ever going to be okay after this because I thought I was going to die.”

Ndumi Funda, the founder and director of Lulekisiswe Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Women’s Project in Nyanga, was at Gaika’s house (yesterday) and said she was “deeply hurt and traumatised” by the news.

“This needs to be stopped. We know of so many that this happens to and nothing is done about it. How many more young lesbian women must die?”

The project was formed more than two years ago and has various awareness programmes. It also has a centre to help women like Gaika.

It was started after Funda’s fiancee and other lesbians they knew died of Aids-related illnesses; they had contracted HIV in homophobic attacks.

Last month, Weekend Argus reported that the rape and murder of gays and lesbians had taken on “crisis proportions” and was not restricted to townships.

According to a report by international group ActionAid, there were reports of 10 new cases of lesbians being raped every week in Cape Town alone.

Gugulethu police spokesman Captain Elliot Sinyangana confirmed the incident and said a 40-year-old man had been arrested.

He will remain in custody until his court appearance.

Written by melanie Nathan in San Francisco

http://lezgetreal.com/?p=31434

 

blogger’s note: corrective rape, out here in the West, is usually associated with South Africa, and conjures talk on the discrimination & fear that African lesbians face in their lives, couched in human rights frameworks en (not-so) critical analysis …..there are very few I’ve talked with who’ve  associated the term with say, Pride Toronto, but I think what they’re doing to queers of Afrikan descent is, depending on one’s subjective perspective ofcourse, is worse.

bredrin (one of the warriors who’s featured in the Q werd) posted on facebook recently….. Pride Toronto doesn’t give a fuck about black people. And I say, amen! to that. 

See when (the devil in) the man was ‘allegedly’ assaulting Millicent Gaika, he ripped her apart like he said he wanted to, he told her exactly what he thought, that he wanted to turn her into a woman, that she was a slut, he fucking RAPED her, en it’s ‘signified’ as corrective. At least we know him for the devil that he is….and we can agree, without a doubt, that shit ain’t kosher.

Now Pride Toronto, that’s a much more sinister story, a case of  devils we know masque(e)rading as leaders of the community, hardly even bothering with camouflage, a corporate-ized story of class divides and white supremacist ideologies  that are couched in token nominations [read: as necessary as Victor Mukasa’s nomination last year was its rendered superfluous by all the ways that the Committee HASN’T  come through for the queer/trans Afrikan communities in Tdot…….like, look at the ongoing dispute over Blockorama, and we’ll definitely be talking back about  OUR experiences at Pride last year]

The truth is, most of the organising for queer/trans rights in Afrika is being done by people of Afrikan descent, and there are still many gaps to be filled, and conscious allies to be recruited.

For many in the movement on the continent, the issues are simpler and  more direct, than the fragmented post-modern queer theorising dykes en fags who will systematically get paid way more (en creatively) to sustain their professional queer-ism.

For many of us on the continent,  it’s a matter of being able to survive while doing this work, as in concretely (as necessary as it is for more afrikans to take up space in discourse on gender & sexuality), no lengthy dissertations on the wear en tear on the soul or preferred acronyms in our rainbow soup of identities.  We need food to eat, money to travel from Point A to C (en back again), safe spaces, allies who are willing to do hard work themselves, we need to be decriminalised and protected by the State, and our issues need to be framed in our own words.  And as necessary as all the talk is, to make it plain, we need more than empathy, encouragement, tolerance or worse yet, charity & sympathy.

And we are not JUST advocating for queer/trans rights, many (more) of us are struggling for the liberation of ALL Afrikan peoples, and it’s been critically analysed to heaven and back….we need to work on our OWN  unity first. Fafanua.

Drawing attention to oneself is an act of courage and one that cannot be emphasized enough, especially if the victim is one whose rape is termed   “corrective rape” where the odds are, that the victim could be re-victimized again and again.  Years ago, Lesbians would never have come forward to tell their stories, but now with the unrelenting support and loving assistance from an extraordinary human being, Ndumie Funda, a lesbian woman living in a South African Township, near Cape Town, women and lesbians are telling their stories, willing to be named, photographed and to stand up on our pages to say:- “This is what happened to me!”

In 2007, Anelisa Mfo then a 23 year old lesbian mother from Emkonto, an informal settlement in South Africa, was walking in along a street in Nyanga when she was attacked by a man who pointed a gun at her yelling “slut ,bitch” –while he brutally raped her with a gun to her head.  Anelisa is agreeable to her name being published and story being told. There are many heroes in this story…

Anelisa together with two friends courageously identified and pursued charges and the perpetrator was caught and sent to prison for ten years.  After her HIV test proved negative in a country where HIV/AIDS is epidemic, Anelisa felt much relief even though still suffering from the cruelty of the crime.   While Anelisa was dealing with this trauma she had no idea that her five year old daughter was also raped in the Eastern Cape, by her sister’s boyfriend.

At the time Anelisa had no shelter, no employment, no money, no job, was disowned by her family because of her sexuality and a child who suffered so unimaginably.

In September, 2008, on the anniversary of her attack, Anelisa tried to kill herself. She poured paraffin over her entire whole body and set herself alight.

When LulekiSizwe LBT, Womyns Project, which had recently formed to help lesbian victims of rape, heard about her story the small unfunded group ran to the hospital in JOOSTER, where Anelisa lay clinging to life in an ICU, with no friends and no family to help.

“Because we don’t have resources yet we went to Triangle Project , they help us with counseling for Anelisa and her daughter pay for transport for Ndumie and Anelisa to travel to hospital and food parcel,” Ndumie Funda, founding Director of LulekiSizwe, informed Lezgetreal.  “We then approached IAM for a shelter and they were also a good help. Now the tough part comes who can look after her? There was no one, but I have looked her since that day,” said Ndumie the director of LulekiSizwe LBT volunteered herself to look after Anelisa.    “Like a nurse doing everything for her, feeding, cooking, washing Anelisa and her laundry- not to forget the good team of us that we have at LulekiSizwe LBT every day to relieve me.”

We received donations from the straight community at the time and so we could hire a nurse who was also helping with the dressings.

“Now,” says Ndumie, “Through prayers and care, Anelisa has recovered from her burns and has her daughter with her. We are currently trying to get some funding to get Anelisa and her daughter a home.”

Anelisa is breathing through a pipe – she cannot use her nose anymore – this is the very sad story of ANELISA.

Donations for LulekeSizwe to –

c/o Melanie Nathan
nathan@privatecourts.com
Private Courts, Inc
P.O. Box  1108
Woodacre, CA 94973

to be continued……kesho, on resistance from the margins