During WorldPride in Copenhagen 2021, our Co-Secretary General Tuisina Ymania Brown was called to deliver a community statement at the opening plenary of the Human Rights Conference.
She gave a rousing speech, and those words continue to resonate: “There is nothing wrong with who we are, who we love and how we are born.”
Revisit this memory of WorldPride, and watch the video of Tuisina Ymania Brown speaking at the opening plenary of the Human Rights Conference in Copenhagen 2021, or read the transcription below.
Good morning family, friends, allies, social justice warriors!
I acknowledge the traditional owners of country throughout Australia where I am, especially the Yaggera nation here in Brisbane. I recognise their continuing and enduring connection to these lands, waters, and oldest living culture in the world. My respects to their elders - past, present and emerging - and all indigenous LGBTIQ people here today.
I am tasked with giving a Community Statement for you all.
I wish I was there in person, but know I am there in spirit, just like the spirits of our indigenous ancestors who continue to surround us and guide us in our lives.
Trigger warning, violent themes ensue.
The women’s rights activist Emmeline Pankhurst once said of the sacredness of human life: "If any life is to be sacrificed it shall be ours; we won’t do it ourselves, but we will put the enemy in the position where they will have to choose between giving us freedom or giving us death".
And that is our reality. That is what my community faces each day as LGBTIQ citizens. We wait for our governments, UN member States, those that rule our lands, those that are our bosses, even our own families, to choose between giving us our freedoms or killing us.
Yes: there is violence in our deaths. Make no mistake about that.
Trans women being hunted and killed.
Violent gay bashings and murders.
Forced mutilations on intersex children and barbaric ‘conversion therapies’.
Corrective rapes of lesbian women.
Jail and public flogging of LGBTIQ men and women.
The shaming, the forced removal from homes of LGBTIQ teens everywhere.
You think LGBTIQ are free in this day and age because we live in a "modern world"? My testimony to all of you is NO. BLOODY. WAY. that we are free.
It has been written in Christian moral theology that pride is one of the 7 Deadly Sins, and in a world of equals, 2021 years ago, perhaps it was. In the Old World.
But in our world - in August 2021, in Copenhagen and around the world, this Pride, our LGBTIQ Pride, our World Pride - there is nothing sinful about this Pride.
We have reclaimed the meaning of Pride.
To show our resilience as a marginalised and oppressed people.
To show member states of the UN in the remaining 70 countries that still criminalise who we love, and to all the member States that refuse to grant freedoms from violence and discrimination, that we, the LGBTIQ citizens of this world, will always rise up.
We will continue to fight for our rights as members of the family of humanity.
Because there is nothing wrong with who we are, who we love and how we are born.
At WorldPride, I am happy to testify to this power to rise up, this resilience, this rainbow love and glow we are all basking in.
It is pure love.
It is legal.
It is God given.
It is natural.
At WorldPride events, such as here in Copenhagen, we get to see the beautiful rainbow light at the end of the tunnel of darkness and violence and oppression.
Yes: we see it, but more than that, we see hope. We see freedom to be who we want to be, to love who we want to love.
And most of all, we see you, me, and humanity living as free and equal citizens of this planet.
My message to countries and States that continue to oppress and violently discriminate against my LGBTIQ family: choose a side. Because your indifference is not a choice.
Your denial of my rainbow family's human rights and humanity is an absolute disgraceful betrayal of your own.
My message to my LGBTIQ family, my aiga, my whanau, my mob around the world: Stay The Course. Remind yourselves that although we as a community are wounded, now is not the time to be hating and beating up on each other.
During this week, while you are in Copenhagen, feel the Pride, your Pride, our Pride: let it fill your resolve and reserves. Because next week, we get back to work of standing our ground and defending our family rights with Pride. We’ll go back to the grind, back to fight for human rights.
Martin Luther King dared to have the Dream that we all live now.
Nelson Mandela was prepared to die for the struggle of the African people, fighting both white and black domination.
Harvey Milk told us that without hope, the “us”s give up!
And Marsha P Johnson asked how many years will it take people to realise that we are all brothers and sisters and human beings in the human race?
I feel your love, I send my love to you all from Yaggera Nation of Brisbane, Australia.
Most of all, I feel your Pride, my beloved “us”s. I pray you can feel mine.
Have an amazing next few days. See you in Sydney in 2023!