July 30: Patricia gone with…Millicent? The ingenious imagination of homosexuality in calypso

Missed the original presentation of this amazing Pride month 2009 programme?
T
hanks to Alice Yard, there’s an audio document of the full event. E-mail us to request
access
to our online file of the presentation slideshow with an accompanying audio
track.
Help us identify opportunities to present the work, or develop its recording.

Believe it or not, in sharp contrast to dancehall, homosexuality is one of the topics that calypso has handled with some of its sweetest ingenuity and subtlest imagination. Not all the time, of course. But surprisingly often.

Come and listen, nah!

Invader, Growler, Atilla (in dress) and Lion in a calypso tent in 1943
Invader, Growler, Atilla (as Eve) and Lion performing at the US Army base at Ft. Read, February 1943 (US Army Signal Corps)

Whether you simply love the calypso artform and Trini culture or you have a personal or family connection to the topic, join in a tent-like atmosphere where we will take in some two dozen recordings of fascinating calypsoes from the 1950s to the present that display surprising wit and intelligence in their treatment of same-sex love.

Share your own thoughts and calypsoes in the following brief discussion on calypso, soca, dancehall and sexual orientation in regional music and society and some ideas about next year’s Carnival.

Lime afterwards.

Thursday 30th July
7:30 pm
Alice Yard, 80 Roberts St., Woodbrook
btw. Brooklyn Bar (Carlos St.) & the Augustus Williams Playground (Murray St.)

This is a free event in honour of Pride month and in support of CAISO’s mission to promote a 20/20 vision of sexual orientation in sweet T&T. Let’s use the national artform for which the coalition is playfully named to bring folks together in fun.

Click for newspaper and television promotion of the event.

with sincere gratitude for the generosity of calypso historians Gordon Rohlehr & Zeno Obi Constance and Alice Yard

Lyrics to make a politician cringe

GROUPS LABEL GAYS’ EXCLUSION FROM NATIONAL GENDER POLICY “1919” THINKING: LAUNCH NEW COALITION WITH 20/20 VISION OF CITIZENSHIP & SEXUAL ORIENTATION

Gender Minister Marlene McDonald’s comments about government policy and sexual orientation last week, and their timing days before the local GLBT community begins its fifteenth annual celebration of Gay Pride, have motivated gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens of Trinidad & Tobago and their organizations to come together to form a new advocacy coalition. The Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO) aims to educate public decisionmakers about modern understandings of sexual orientation and gender identity, and to help the public embrace the full humanity of Trinidad & Tobago citizens of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. At last Thursday’s press briefing following the acceptance of the new National Gender Policy and Action Plan by Cabinet, Min. McDonald told the media: “We are not dealing with any issues related to…same-sex unions, homosexuality or sexual orientation.”

“The Minister’s statement was, sadly, sadly 1919,” said David DK Soomarie. “Saying you ‘are not dealing’ with your own citizens is the kind of power-drunk thinking that we expect from unaccountable governments in places like Iran and Zimbabwe, not here in Trinidad & Tobago. Our vision is to build Trinidad & Tobago into a developed nation in its treatment of sexual orientation and gender identity. GLBT people are fully human, fully citizens. We’re taxpayers. And our country will never achieve developed nation status when our Government leaders can stand up boldly and declare that they intend to leave out and treat as second-class whole groups of citizens.” Soomarie is a leader of 4Change, one of the coalition’s member groups that is named after section 4 (Recognition and Declaration of Rights and Freedoms) of the Trinidad & Tobago Constitution. 4Change formed in 2007 inspired by the successful lawsuit by maxi driver Kennty Mitchell after his humiliation by police officers for being gay.

                                      a "1919" vision of sexual orientation:                                      backwards, out of touch with reality, elitist
Gender Minister Marlene Mc Donald: a "1919" vision of sexual orientation—backwards, out of touch with reality, elitist

CAISO’s plans include: a website, monthly meetings, fundraising at home and abroad, educational activities with public and religious officials, and collaboration with local and international research, advocacy and human rights groups. The group also pledged to support efforts to provide affirming opportunities for GLBT people to practise their faiths.

Continue reading “Lyrics to make a politician cringe”