Gender and Sexual Minorities in the Caribbean

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The Caribbean Board of the International Resource Network (IRN) organized a gathering of activists, scholars, and creative producers which took place during the recent Caribbean Studies Association (www.caribbean-studies.org) Conference, in Kingston, Jamaica Participants included those people whose political, creative and scholarly work focuses on genders and sexual minorities in the Caribbean. The IRN is a relatively new 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 IRN has set up a website (www.irnweb.org) for people interested in approaching sexual rights and human rights from the perspective of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer studies or in surveying the research on particular lesbian, gay, bisexual, all-sexual, and transgender issues around the globe. Currently, there are several boards representing geographic regions of interest: Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, Middle East, Asia, and Europe.

The Caribbean Region of the IRN is in the beginning stages of development.  As more scholarship and activism – in and outside of the region – focus on issues related to sexual minorities in the Caribbean, there is an increasing need for a clearinghouse to exist in order to access information, research, and resources, and to connect individuals from around the region and the world. The Caribbean IRN will also promote activism and creative work, as well as different kinds of engaged scholarship which seek to question, provoke and illuminate various ways of thinking around sexual minorities.

The first meeting saw a gathering of people who are involved in social justice, social work, health promotion, art, literature, scholarly pursuits, creative writing, media, religion, politics and business. Some of the issues raised include the perceptions of homophobia in the region, the need to document the histories in the Caribbean of same gender loving people and those who defied gender norms in their communities, the appreciation of the various cultural perceptions and the strategies towards creating a Caribbean in which all of its citizens could achieve their full potential regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This historic convening happened at a time when the Caribbean Studies Association conference also hosted several panels related to same-sex desire in the Caribbean, and which panels allowed active discussion and debate on the issues. These discussions will continue through to the next gathering of the Caribbean Studies Association conference which will be held in Barbados in 2010

Originally reported at http://www.bvinews.com/index.php/all_news/caribbean/6988.html

One thought on “Gender and Sexual Minorities in the Caribbean

  1. This organization and its goals are most laudable, for we have a long way to go before every person is accorded the respect and opportunities all law-abiding individuals deserve. It is a sad fact that a large segment of society, both in the U.S. and abroad, still regards gay men and women (among various minorities) as second-class citizens – or worse. That is the salient point of my recently released biographical novel, Broken Saint. It is based on my forty-year friendship with a gay man, and chronicles his internal and external struggles as he battles for acceptance (of himself and by others). More information on the book is available at http://www.eloquentbooks.com/BrokenSaint.html.

    Mark Zamen, author

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