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CELEBRATING IDAHOBIT 2021 – “TOGETHER: RESISTING, SUPPORTING, HEALING”

This year, the theme of IDAHOBIT – the International Day against LGBTI-phobia – is strongly tied to the turbulent times we have been going through.

“Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing” reminds us of the value of reclaiming our rights and confront lesbophobia, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and interphobia, standing in solidarity across borders, and cherishing our existence. We asked one question to our communities around the world.

“In a time of resistance, what does supporting and healing mean for your community?”

Here’s what they told us.

 

It is essential to vocalize diverse voices in our community, which shows that we are not alone in our struggle and resistance. We need to create opportunities to come together and get organized. When we are open to hearing one another, and when we acknowledge the uniqueness of each and every experience, we can identify the problems and needs of our community, we can resist, and we can create our healing mechanisms. We need to take care of our bio-psycho-social health, we need to spare time for ourselves, and we need to explore what helps us heal. All of these may bring along empowerment, hope and community care.

Yunus Kara
Social Work Unit Coordinator, SpoD (Social Policies, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation Studies Association), Turkey

photo: supplied

photo: supplied

On a daily basis, the LGBTQI community is exposed to trauma and crises of all sorts, and dealing with this pandemic has certainly made it more difficult.  Resistance by the powers may as well be forthcoming, however we can resist this oppression and work together as one community to help achieve the rights we truly want.

More than ever, the community needs support and healing – especially in the Caribbean, where job losses are at an all-time high due to the pandemic. Becoming an ally, sharing love and words of encouragement go a long way for the community.  “Ally” is a powerful word: you may not be LGBTQI, and yet support the cause for equality and speak out against discrimination, nevertheless.  Healing and support can come in the form of bringing the community together to discuss the issues that matter right now, and what can be done to elevate these problems collectively.

Building support with other NGOs is fundamental as it helps raise the capacity needed to push the work which can add to a more inclusive society. We may not get there now, however I believe it will happen through the support and the strong alliances that can effect change for all.

Jessica St. Rose
United and Strong, Saint Lucia

It is important to reflect on where we are – alongside the multiplicity of systemic, historic injustice and human rights violations that have been highlighted, made worse, exacerbated.

So, a time of ‘resisting’, reaching out and going ‘inside’ reminding myself who I am, what is important – checking my activist map. A pulling back. Doing things that I know, protect, heal. Owning my own Covid fears around my vulnerabilities as an older intersex person. People have lost jobs, homes. People’s health, access to care, has suffered, and yes: people have died.

It reminds us all in a brutal way what is important. That ultimately life is fragile and precious. Words matter and actions matter. Aware, functional, loving, generous communities matter.

Mani Mitchell
Intersex Trust Aotearoa New Zealand

photo: supplied

Since the beginning of the year 2020, the LGBTIQ movement around the world and in the Middle East and North Africa region has been in a state of resistance, re-prioritization, and joining efforts to provide support and solidarity to each other.

The impact of the pandemic, in addition to the many complex political events in many countries in the region… all of this has led and prompted queer activists to make more efforts to unite their power and resources in order to maintain channels of communication, open discussions about the future of our struggle and its intersections with feminist, human rights and other social movements.

We joined each other to develop plans, strategies and lessons learned to overcome this crisis together through a collective healing. Bearing in mind that healing is an ongoing process, while the transformation is the aim.

Azza Sultan,
Middle East and North Africa Program Advisor at OutRight Action International, USA/Sudan

Recently, I was walking in a garden, and I saw a beautiful ladybug; but when I came back, someone had unnoticeably stepped on it. Its death made my heart break and gave me an urge to cry. Reflecting over this incident with my therapist I realized I am in a process of healing: my heart is open for experiencing beauty, hurt and loss. When we suffer loss, violence, and discrimination daily, for us to survive, we often need to close our hearts and numb ourselves. Curiously, “ladybug” in my native language translates to a slur used commonly against LGBTIQ people and, like it, often the violence that we experience goes unnoticed or ignored.

To heal means to live with open hearts. Ultimately, to live in a world where violence and discrimination doesn’t close our hearts at the first place. Collective healing means to work toward this goal and that can take many forms: writing, researching queer issues, taking the streets with pride, sharing meals, helping each other through transition, etc. Neither the pandemic nor the state and social violence have taken these from us; our collective healing practices remain uncharted.

This IDAHOBIT 2021 let us remind ourselves to live with an open heart by articulating political demands for a kinder word and preserving the beauty of our people and communities. Let that healing kindness lead the way for our activism, social relationships, and political demands.

Tristán López,
member of Transmen Collective “Trans-formación” and Visibles NGO from Guatemala

photo: supplied

photo: supplied

We continue to resist simply by existing.

Our connections support us. We are a crowded city state of diverse talents, and almost everyone knows everyone else within the community. We seek out each other for support, allies and families to stand with us, and look beyond our shores for international solidarity.

For we will not and cannot do this on our own.

Our healing is ongoing.  We mourn our losses, for there have been so many, even as celebrate our victories, for there have been so few.
To heal and move on, we also need to remember our history not with shame but Pride.

Leow Yangfa,
Executive Director, Oogachaga, Singapore

Here are a few more questions we may want to ask ourselves today.

 

What does ‘resist’ mean for LGBTI communities?

We resist institutionalized, state-sponsored and social LGBTI-phobias. We reclaim our rights. We take action and create change towards a world where global justice and equity are assured and established, no matter our sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions and sex characteristics. ‘Resist’ means to build a world where everyone is truly free and equal.

 

Why is supporting one another essential?

The dominant narratives marginalize LGBTI people, especially those who find themselves at the intersections of diverse forms of oppression, injustice, and discrimination. Thus, we need LGBTI communities and organisations to build solidarity with one another and weave alliances when advocating for change.

With the support of one another, grassroots organizations and NGOs working on the ground, we reach out to others who push for change towards a more inclusive and respectful world. This reminds us we are not alone. We go beyond surviving, and we thrive together in communities.

 

How do we heal, and from what?

Because of the discriminatory systems, many of us have already been going through economic hardships, housing problems and challenges in healthcare access amongst others. The ongoing pandemic crisis has exposed and deepened existing challenges for LGBTI people, leaving many struggling to survive in a world that has become even more unequal and violent. And where laws are already a cause of inequality, things have only got worse.

Seeing our fundamental human rights violated, witnessing hate crimes, and experiencing the frustration, fear, and grief that comes with them are likely to create wounds, making us anxious and depressed. To heal, we need to address our wounds, be them personal or collective. To heal, we need community care and hope.

Even if it may be difficult to find reasons to be hopeful at times, remember that you are not alone. LGBTI movement is made of great, beautiful diversity. It doesn’t speak from a single voice. It withholds multiple voices from everywhere the world.

 

Happy IDAHOBIT!