At the 2009 World Outgames, LGBT Human Rights Conference, here in Copenhagen, I have been struck by the courage of many who in their home country, face discrimination, criminal sanction, violence, and stigma.
In the global north we have struggled for and gained rights for LGBT people. There are still many instances of homophobia and discrimination, and Trans people are still very much at risk - but we can use the law and gain support in the community. Elsewhere, in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, things can be really tough. We have heard many stories about not being able to be yourself or "being invisible" and living a double life, and facing criminal charges. Yet even so there are many who take on these barriers and injustices and organize and advocate for their rights and the rights of the Queer community overall.
On Wednesday we heard from an extraordinary young woman in China who organized leadership "LaLa camps" for Asian women. Her video had us in tears as we saw their powerful work together as they faced seemingly overwhelming issues. Their positive attitude and fortitude were inspiring.
There are also examples of great changes underway. One workshop I attended presented four terrific people from Cuba who work with CENESEX, an organization for sexual diversity. Mariela Castro Espin gave a spirited overview of their work. I loved their slogan: "La Diversidad es Natural". For anyone who has visited Cuba (as many of us Canadians love to do!), the video of the anti-homophobia day on La Rampa, in Havana, was wonderful to see, drag queens and all.
I also saw a wonderful pre-premiere of the Danish film "I am Lesbian" that was humourous, historical, and vivid, as it portrayed the daily life of lesbians in Denmark. I think we will see this film on the International and Queer Film Festival circuit soon. I will definitely go see it again.
Last night Kim and I hung out by the Canal in Nyhavn with other Canadians Ariel, Matt and Jane, and we talked up a storm. We had a nice dinner and I learned a lot about Trans issues.
I feel like I hardly saw Copenhagen, but the number of cyclists who commute everyday is impressive (36% of all commuters). It makes the debate about the Burrard Street Bridge look pretty minor. Every major street has 2 bicycle lanes. As the guide book said, there is an "elegance" to seeing the streams of cyclists on these lanes. People are very laid back and polite.
Have loved being here.....Bill Siksay has already left and we will have lots to report back on.