gspotttlight: IRN

IRN website
IRN website

When we launched, CAISO said our plans included “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”. In fact, our emergence has been received with quite a bit of excitement within the region and beyond. We’ve been called on by UNAIDS (the UN’s joint programme on HIV, who asked us to share ideas about addressing homophobia and violence); UNDP (the UN’s development programme, through its new, Port of Spain-based initiative on sexual minorities); the regional Coalition for Vulnerable Communities whom we welcome back to Trinidad for a human rights consultation at the end of the month; and CariFLAGS (the Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities), a 12-year-old regional GLBT coalition who have asked us to join and, with other partners, sponsored a local community member to attend their groundbreaking Regional Transgender Training and Strategy Consultation two weeks ago. The Commonwealth People’s Forum blog and the blogger portal Global Voices Online have both taken notice of our online work. As evidenced by yesterday’s City University of New York webcast, CAISO is helping strengthen links between Trinidad & Tobago and a range of regional and international work on GLBT issues. As we participate in these regional and international meetings and build relationships with partners, a periodic gspotttlight will try to tell you a bit about those meetings and allies.

launching the Caribbean IRN at the Caribbean Studies Association conference in Kingston
launching the Caribbean IRN at the Caribbean Studies Association conference in Kingston

Vidyartha Kissoon, Caribbean IRN Coordinator, talks about the entity that gave rise to yesterday’s webcast, and its consultation in Jamaica in June that a CAISO member attended.

A gathering of buller, sadamite woman, man-rayal, batty-man, anti-man and dey friend (or, if you want, a gathering of people whose political, creative and scholarly work focuses on genders and sexual minorities in the
Caribbean) meet up in Jamaica in June this year. (Jamaica, you ask? Well Jamaica was the venue for the Caribbean Studies Association conference, which had many discussions on Caribbean sexualities.) The gathering was organized by the Caribbean board of the International Resource Network (IRN). The IRN is a project based at the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS) of the City University of New York. It is funded by the Ford Foundation and seeks to connect academic and  community-based researchers, artists, and activists around the world in areas related to diverse sexualities and genders. The web platform is at

What opportunities does the IRN present for the Caribbean? It provides a mechanism to promote the work being done by groups lIke CAISO and to network across the Caribbean and in the diaspora in a very visible way. The Caribbean is evolving in terms of how the different countries respond to LBGTT citizens and their right to achieve their full potential. The Caribbean IRN web has started to build a listing of related resources – syllabuses, films, books, papers, people. And other activities have started in the background:

CAISO in class: Tune in online Monday 5th @ 6pm

logoMonday night three-month-old CAISO becomes a subject of Neither Heaven Nor Hell: The Realities of Sexual Minority Organizing in the Caribbean, the latest of the CLAGS (the City University of New York’s Center for Lesbian & Gay Studies) “Seminars in the City”. Participate free on the web starting at 6:00 pm. Set a reminder now!

Bahamian scholar Angelique Nixon, PhD

[Missed it live? Catch it archived here!]

Seminars in the City provide a public, informal but intellectually charged forum to bridge the academy and the community and make complex and often abstruse ideas engaging for nonacademicians. The current Seminar series, Axes of Desire, focuses on questions of sexual human rights in regions around the world and was created by CLAGS’s International Resource Network (IRN), a forum designed to connect and create a directory, archive/clearinghouse and networking forum for scholars, NGOs and activists interested in GLBT research, rights and culture in particular areas of the globe. A Caribbean arm of the IRN was launched in Jamaica in June, where a CAISO member represented Trinidad & Tobago.

Monday October 5’s seminar, Neither Heaven Nor Hell: The Realities of Sexual Minority Organizing in the Caribbean, is taught by Angelique Nixon, a Bahamian PhD graduate of the University of Florida currently at the University of Connecticut.

It begins at 6:00 pm. In keeping with its international focus, the seminar series will be globally accessible via live webcast on through the IRN website; and everyone is welcome to join.

Featured readings are listed on the IRN website and include our very own blog entry here: Emancipation Time.