Are we all citizens? Are we different, but are we equal?

Republic Day is coming up next week, and many of us are looking forward to a work week with two public holidays, some trying to figure out how to break biche Friday and make it a four-day weekend. But this annual period between August and September in which the country is draped in red, white and black bunting – between our celebration of 47 years of Independence and the 33rd anniversary of Trinidad & Tobago’s entry into full adulthood in the community of nations – provides us at gspottt with an opportunity to reflect on how well we’ve moved beyond the puberty of independence and taken up the local responsibility for our sovereignty and statehood that being a republic involves.

Are we growing up as a nation? We’ve raised that question here before. To help us examine it again, we turn to: CAISO’s friend Kennty Mitchell; one of our own members; disabilities advocate George Daniel; grandmother with HIV Catherine Williams; and activist/journalist Verna St. Rose-Greaves.

caisoOn her 2007 “Treeay” television show marking the 45th anniversary of Independence, Verna looked back at herself standing in Woodford Square in 1962 with her parents, “waving my little red, white and black, feeling my chest full as if it would burst, so proud I was of my country”. Though “much older and much more in love with my country”, she laments that, despite the diversity and richness of our beauty, culture and “wealth…that can take care of all of our citizens”, we still “have citizens who live in constant fear, citizens who are discriminated against, who are marginalized, who are beaten, who are spat upon, who are kicked, who are treated worse than animals”.

Through a long live interview with Mitchell, interwoven with taped segments from Daniel, Williams and the young gay man, she issues an invitation to viewers “to remember a time when you were discriminated against, to remember how you felt, to remember what it did to you, how it stayed with you, how did you react”, and helps us contemplate: Are we all citizens? Are we different; but are we equal? “Are you all organized? … You need to be organized,” she also urges.

Click here to watch Part 1

(Apologies! We’ve now fixed the link above. Next time, please let us know.)

Click here to watch Part 2

Video courtesy Gayelle TV.

When history is written

Two years ago today, two young men who were lovers got in a maxi and drove in the rain from Ste. Madeleine to St. Clair to meet with an excited group of gays who had come together in an unprecedented way across race, class and gender, inspired by the stories of the past month about de maxi driver in de papers who was boldface enough to sue the stateand win. Years from now, when the history of this period is written, perhaps that lawsuit and that meeting will be markers of the birth of a new era in GLBT history in Trinidad & Tobago.

clip_image001Dear Friend:

I am writing to invite you to a meeting on Sunday August 11th [2007] that could be a cornerstone of an exciting new phase of community building and organising around sexual orientation in Trinidad & Tobago.

You may have read in the newspapers on July 4th about a case involving a young man from Ste. Madeleine who won a court judgment against the Trinidad & Tobago police force after hours of detention, humiliation and abuse in 2000. The Express accurately reported that the abuse was related to his sexual orientation. Kennty Dave Mitchell was later the subject of a feature story in the Trinidad Guardian on July 21st in which he talked about marking Gay Pride month by speaking out for all the gay people without a voice, and about the need to amend the Equal Opportunity Act to include protections for gay people.

We reached out to Kennty and he and his partner drove up from South to meet with four available community members in Port of Spain on August 1. They talked about their keen interest in using the case as an opportunity to mobilise public support, rally the gay community, raise funds and increase political pressure. Kennty is also planning a series of appearances in the electronic news media, a blog, and has some creative ideas for next year’s Carnival season. We talked about the potential of the case to foster a new kind of community-building, to strengthen public understanding of the connection of sexual orientation discrimination to other forms of prejudice and victimisation, and to expand legal protections of rights.

On August 11th Kennty and Keno [Kinno] have agreed to meet with a wider crosssection of community stakeholders who are interested in taking advantage of the opportunity related to this case and the public attention it can generate. We are coming together to find common ground and work collaboratively to move a manageable number of educational and political projects forward. We would like you to participate in the meeting, to lend your resources and ideas to the work ahead and to help us identify other key community stakeholders whose perspective or participation would be helpful. The following ideas emerged from our last meeting:

  • immediate work to get Kennty’s story on radio and television
  • creation of an internet site to facilitate conversation and public communication about the case
  • a fundraising event to acknowledge Kennty and raise money for public education and advocacy projects
  • a series of public activities around the nation (consultations, forums, addresses, etc.) to mobilise gay community and educate the public about common interests

Please join us at 5:00 pm on Sunday at 13 Rust Street, St. Clair (one block north of Tragerete Rd., btw. Maraval Rd. & Gray St.). We look forward to your collaboration on this timely project. If you need further information, please reach us at…

Click below to read the meeting notes
Continue reading “When history is written”

Don’t be startled!

Did your week begin on Wednesday?

Does anyone still read The Bomb? Either way, you know you’ve made some kind of news if you make the front page of The Bomb. While the reporting uses the paper’s classic all-but-name-dropping and scandal-mongering approach, and the facts are, well, creative, what the piece essentially says is that there are lots of us, that discrimination and abuse exist, that they hurt, and that we’re pressing for rights (they added the marriage part). What the paper never says is that gays should not have equal rights. And the lead ends with the words: “Don’t be startled.”

What do you think of the piece? Leave a comment.


CAISO in the media

July 10
July 18
June 29
June 29

As we hope you’ve been noting, CAISO has been appearing in the media repeatedly over the past month since our formation. Today’s half-page feature in the Guardian marks our ninth instance of coverage since our launch.

We started with radio: I-95, as they love to, were the first to cover us, two days after we formed, even before we’d finished writing our release. The TV morning shows followed quickly: Gayelle, always cutting-edge; and the mainstream TV6, where Andy Johnson’s longstanding interest in the National Gender Policy helped get us airtime, in early July. Columnists provided our first print coverage: Lennox Grant taking the lead in the Sunday Guardian with a touching personal story; Lisa Allen-Agostini

July 3
July 3

following two weeks later. A Newsday journalist who has covered these issues diligently for some time now provided the first print news article. TV evening news was next, with a piece many of you complained about to us that fell out of

July 20
July 20

CNC3’s 7:00 pm broadcast on July 22, and appeared in a blink at 9:30. But CNC producer Ken Ali made up for it by doing a substantive interview on their morning show two days later.

On the front page of the Guardian’s well-read Friday features section, “Life Today”, editor Peter Ray Blood calls next week Thursday’s calypso event in tribute to CAISO “a most interesting and topical event”, and a link to the page B14 article appears on the home page of the paper’s website. The article also lists the link for gspottt.

July 5
July 5

And look out for another feature in Sunday’s Newsday; and coverage of Pride events on “Cock-a-Doodle-Doo” on Monday.

July 21 & 23
July 21 & 23

We salute T&T’s journalists for their 20/20 vision in “dealing with sexual orientation” by covering us and our issues in an open, balanced way; and Keith Clifford in particular for his firmness in handling abusive callers. CAISO is also fortunate to have lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual leaders and friends brave enough to appear on television carrying our message. Three women and two men have formed that growing team. CAISO salutes them.

To follow our media appearances and learn of upcoming ones, you can always click on the CAISO in the media link near the top of the right hand column of the website. Where links to the coverage are available, we’ll post them.

July 24
July 24
July 8
July 8

If you have a reaction, positive or negative, to coverage of CAISO or anything else that matters to you in the media, use your civic rights and write to the media house in question to share your views. And if you ever see or hear sexual orientation issues being covered somewhere in the media or addressed by a public figure, please record or save it and contact us.