Monday, July 25, 2011

Gays Call For End To Homophobia

This article was originally published in the Trinidad Express Newspapers on May 18 2011.

PORT OF SPAIN- There were no rainbow-coloured flags, flamboyant costumes or shouts of "we are here" yesterday. Instead, there was a quiet message delivered to six government ministries advocating policy change toward the gay and lesbian communities in Trinidad and Tobago. Yesterday, more than 50 countries around the world celebrated, IDAHO (the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia). It is the date which marks the declassification of homosexuality as a mental illness by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Colin Robinson, president of the Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO), told reporters at the International Waterfront Centre that he had handed over to ministers’ representatives "six politically feasible steps that our government can take to end and to address homophobia in Trinidad and Tobago". These steps include Government speaking forcefully about embracing the full citizenship and humanity of Trinbagonians who are gay. The other steps include equal opportunity for members of the community, reduction or eradication of crime against the gay and lesbian community and the police’s treatment of members of this group. The other three proposals include the creating of measures which would steer members of the gay and lesbian community away from sex work, a solid gender policy for the gay and lesbian community and safe schools for all sexual orientations. Robinson said that yesterday morning they encountered, "some hostility", but were able to "charm" their way through to the ministers’ representatives.
Journalist Gyasi Gonzales.
For this article and other stories visit the IDAHO website


The following is my response to the article above.

"Gays call for an end to homophobia" the headline in a local newspaper and therein lies the problem. Tuesday 17th May IDAHO: The International Day Against Homophobia is recognised by over 50 countries worldwide, with 2011 being T&T first year. CAISO: The Coalition Advocating for the Inclusion of Sexual Orientation organised members of the LBGT (Lesbian Gay BI sexual Transgender) community, as well as its allies to present various Ministers with packages including information about IDAHO, a gift and document entitled "Six in Six", outlining six things that the government can do to ensure safety and equal access to services for all citizens ... including members of the LGBT.

To the journalists credit, he did attempt to outline some of the issues surrounding the day and the effort but I'm afraid his aticle may have done more harm than good. The opening remarks of the absence of rainbow colours and flambouyant costumes can be overlooked, despite the fact that that type of activism has never been a part of our history here in the Caribbean and in seemed like a poor attempt at humour and/or ridicule. Either way, the title of the article gives way to a larger issue of mis-representation... "GAYS call for end to homophobia". My first question would be - How in tarnation does he know the sexuality of all who were present and furthermore why does it matter? In the two pages previous was an article about anti-Manning PNM protesters and there was no reference to the sexual orientation of those protesters. Even as I posted information on my own page about IDAHO I was careful not to use anything with the very rainbow colours that the journalist pointed out were absent from our dress code, in a pointed attempt not to alienate anybody from the cause. In my caption above a video entitled "Homophobia" I wrote this a HUMAN ISSUE not a GAY one. Hate affects us all.

The constant association with LGBT causes with only gay persons/activsts is ignorant and more importantly damaging. LGBTQIA is the extended acronym (too long for everyday use), with the A referring to allies - who can usually be found in Human Rights and Women's Orgs. At yesterday's 'march' there were two individuals, one a member of the LGBT and one not, both representing various NGOs or "allies". Both of them refused to be recorded on camera or have their pictures taken for fear of being labelled gay. I guess their fears weren't unfounded. My observation is by no means an endorsement of their beahviour but the article was almost like a self fulfilling prophecy. Whether or not the media is aware, they play into these fears and hinder so many people from standing up because they are afraid that there sexuality will be questioned if they do. HOw many people are willing to put themselves out there for a cause when they are being fought from all angles, including the media. A woman remarked to me that even the reporters holding the cameras and microphones were ducking for fear thaT their faces were being shown.

My message is both to those who are afraid as well as to those who exploit the fear of others- If you are comfortable with who you are it shouldn't where you are, with whom, what causes you fight or what people say about you.

One God, One Love, One Destiny.
For more information on the LGBT community in Trinidad, visit the Coalition Advocating for the Inclusion of Sexual Orientation on Facebook.
To hear the response of the journalist and others, can also follow this thread on Facebook.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Trini Philosophy : The Mind

This post is my brother's first attempt at youtube exposure but has been writing and sharing his philosophy for over ten years. Simon Leitch aka The Almighty Dread lives in London England and like all of us struggling writers, keeps looking for new ways to give his ideas room to breath and mutate. Hope you enjoy.

For more reasoning with the dread, link him on Facebook or via his Website

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Through the Master’s Eyes

Barefoot Trails presents Through the Master’s Eyes

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

This note was written in response to some negative criticisms of a photograph I posted of myself and another woman in an erotic pose. Unlike the catch phrase however, criticism is not always constructive, as it is used to shroud morally judgmental points of view, as well as racist, sexist and homophobic ones.

Because I was accused of contributing to the objectification of women, I sought to explore objectification as a gendered concept and specifically how it applies to art.


"Ways of Seeing" - a breakthrough documentary by John Berger, outlining the historical nature of the objectification of women in art from the Victorian ages to modern day.

Art critic John Peter Berger in his video essay Ways of Seeing (I-IV parts are available for view) attempted to debunk the female nude. His work won the Booker Prize in 1972 and is often still used as a college text. Berger’s basic premise is that the female body has been interpreted through a particular lens … a male lens, not only by the audience but by the artists themselves.

Writer Stephanie Leitch and another woman in the "photo booth" at Erotic Art Week in Trinidad 2010.

Berger’s discussion pivoted around the male gaze, which refers to the objectification of the female body by a male seer. In a male dominated (art) world, women were portrayed in ‘classical’/European art as looking outward, as if on display – inviting/desiring the gaze of a male audience; seeking their approval for her beauty, body or nakedness. This tradition can also easily be identified in modern art forms such as pornography, with female actors and models being called to “make love to the camera”, as opposed to a person. Male control of female bodies either by the brush or by the lens and how these bodies are sexualized and interpreted through patriarchal paradigms is an age old story. In the picture (above), neither ‘actor’ seeks the camera for recognition of how their bodies – or sexualities are being perceived or consumed. No parts are exposed, no touch ups or airbrushing have been applied and there is no selling of product - bodies or otherwise. These are some of the characteristics that separate erotica from pornography…art from exploitation. The image is intimate as well as sexy, just as it is strong and liberating.

It is a widely held myth that heterosexist societies are typically more sympathetic to lesbians than they are to gay men, while in reality, female/lesbian sexuality is fetishized, exploited and distorted by heterosexual men. The image may still meet with disapproval from some male and female seers as it remains outside of patriarchal control and the heterosexual paradigm. Assuming that the image is more acceptable based on the sex of the actors is therefore based on hegemonic (i.e. homophobic and heterosexist) notions of acceptability.

Below are a collection of images that John Berger’s documentary explores comprehensively, the imagery spans from the Victorian period to modern representations of the female nude.

On the other extreme exists the puritanical interpretation, with female purity as a gendered concept being used by religions old and new, as a tool of making women ashamed of their bodies, its natural functions and sexuality.

This does not mean however that the image determines the sexuality of the actors, which is in fact irrelevant. The image does not make either woman lesbian and in similar fashion, the sexuality of the seer should not determine the credibility or appreciation of the art.

I am proud to have contributed such a powerful image to Trinidad and Tobago’s visual landscape and affirm sisterhood with all women who have dared to live outside the boxes of, patriarchy, religious puritanism, sexism and homophobia.

The Master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” Audre Lorde

Originally Published by Arc Magazine

A Powerful Dream

Earlier this week two friends said they had dreams about me ... one wrote about it so I decided to share.

Powerful Dream

This morning after yoga (about 4:30 a.m.) I lay down, placed my hands over my heart, fell asleep and had an amazing dream.

In the dream I was going somewhere with a friend. Having forgotten something at home, I went back to get it. I parked the car at the side of the road leading to the driveway and left her sitting there with the window down. I intended to be back in a minute or two, but somehow once I got into my room everything slowed down. I can't recall exactly what I was doing—I think I was rearranging items. I was aware that I was taking longer than planned and that my friend was waiting.

Eventually, as I was about to leave, I noticed a light glowing in South-East corner. By this time it was dark—time had passed. I didn't know where the light was coming from, as there was no sunlight. Upon closer inspection of the corner, I noticed the light was coming from a small candle holder I have with a stained glass angel on it. As far as I knew, there was no candle in it and, even if there had been, I had not lit it.

I went closer and looked into the place where the candle is supposed to go. There I saw the face of Jesus glowing brightly, as though sketched with pure white light. It was the kind of intense luminous white you get when burning magnesium. As I stared at the face, it stared back at me through its third eye, which was a glowing white crosshair (Either of two fine strands of wire crossed in the focus of the eyepiece of an optical instrument and used as a calibration or sighting reference).

Now as I place the image of the crosshair on the blog, I realise it has a cross in the middle. In the dream, Jesus's third-eye/crosshair was pulsing with light, projecting to me, not only as a gift, but also as a message to use the power of my own third eye/crosshair. In the blazing vision, even though Jesus had two other eyes, the third eye was the one being used.

I knew in the dream that the illuminated Jesus was real and that we had communicated with each other.

I woke up feeling very grateful.

Originally Published on Now is Wow Too
Information on Dream Interpretation can be found Here: Myths-Dreams-Symbols & Here: Astro Awareness


GIve thanks to the lovely Candace Moses and her contribution in making this blog a reality an aesthetically pleasing one at that! Jah knows how severely technologically challenged I am. Large up unno self Princess.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The closeted agenda of the Open Mic

With T&T Pride fast approaching, I can’t help but re-call my pleasant and not so pleasant experiences in July 2010. So here goes … As a lover of the arts, I have frequented the open mics spots and live shows, which have grown considerably in popularity and demand over the past five years. I myself having performed in various events, mostly advancing a feminist agenda through spoken word and readings. Last year I decided that it was seemingly ludicrous that Pride should come and go and never be addressed within the local art spaces designed for open expression.

In an attempt to ameliorate this dis service to the population at large, I approached a friend of mine - a host of an open mic and explained my concept in hopes of sharing at the next session. In preparation for this event I asked my mother if she would be willing to sew some pink triangles for me as a gift to the audience. For those of you who are not aware,homosexuals were forced to wear pink triangles during the Holocaust to identify them as such. This triangle was later inverted to represent a symbol of pride. This request was a big one, considering my mother’s feelings about homosexuality but she did it anyway … for me. I was immensely grateful.

On the night of the show I was told I was up next and then a minute later that I couldn’t perform. Completely flabbergasted by this series of events I was given a speech by the host … MY FRIEND that due to further consideration (over the past minute or so) that the content of my presentation may be offensive to members of the audience. She further went on to say that they were running a business and had to be concerned with public perception. In the end I agreed to do my spoken word piece but not talk about PRIDE or give out my triangles. In retrospect I’m still not sure whether or not this was the right decision. Sometimes when you are faced with unexpected situations, your reaction can be unpredictable. I did however express my displeasure with the handling of the situation and made it quite clear that I had no intentions of attending any future events.

The ordeal did however motivate me to approach other open mics, the hosts of which I also knew. Two times over I was again shut down, with one individual not even having the courtesy to respond to my email. Needless to say, the whole experience was very eye opening to just how closed these open mics really were.

Walking the road that I have chosen, politically and ideologically, I have already resigned myself to loosing friends and perhaps even the respect of peers but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t taken aback by the reaction of these so called liberals who I thought were providing spaces for people like me to create a better world. Once again I was reminded to stay in my place as woman, as feminist, as lesbian, as educator and as freedom fighter.

Originally Published on Women Speak, June 1st, 2011