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The un-Buddhist excommunication

and

punishment of openly practising homosexuals in Sri

Lanka has

its roots in the

colonisation and

modernisation of Sri Lankan Buddhism. As stated throughout this article the concept of what is right or wrong is based in morality which is directly derived from religion, or in the case in Buddhism, philosophy. The colonial powers brought with them and externally introduced to Sri Lanka their own sense of morality derived from their own religion, namely Christianity. In relation to human biological reproduction practices (sex) contrasts can be drawn between the Christian religion and Buddhist philosophy. While the Christian Bible specifically categorises the spilling (spoiling) of Gods seed (sperm) as a sin, the Buddhist Scriptures contain no such reference. As both Thailand and Sri Lanka share the same

variety of Buddhism further analogies can be drawn here. Currently Thailand does not legally or morally punish homosexuality and adopts a more Buddhist approach to the matter preferring to adopt a live and let live philosophy so long as the principle of do no harm is

adhered

to.

The main variable here is the fact that

"/)ev'il's l.toti" I still remember the first

day My mom told me about God. How he created this world You me and all.

She taught me to pray to a hypocrite Believe in a book that made no sense at all. Coz'

Day by day I realised that his friends Didn't like me much at all And that house where he lived Didn't really accept me at all.

I still remember my mom told me that God is all He will accept anyone, whoever and whatever you are. She told me he will forgive But I have done no mistake at all.

Thailand was not subject to colonialism and therefore a

purer and more traditional form of Buddhism has prevailed while the Sri Lankan form of Buddhism has been diluted, poisoned and rendered impure by its modernisation along the lines of western principles.

In order for Sri Lankan's to be considered truly Buddhist they need to find inner peace and be happy with themselves and stop expecting others to live as they wish them to live. In order for Sri Lanka to truly consider itself a Buddhist nation it needs to stop forcing its people to live as it wishes them to live. The Buddhist scholars within Sri Lanka have a duty and an obligation to advocate for a return to the traditional and more tolerant teachings of Lord Buddha. It is not only homosexuals who will benefit from this return, the entire Island of Sri Lanka and all its people will benefit from the tolerance, acceptance, openness and celebration of difference that the Lord Buddha envisioned.

V

I forced myself to believe in God I know my mom would not lie at all.

now ask myself who I am? Who the hell created me? It can't be God who did that Coz' he just don't seem to like me at all.

I

Why would he reject what he created? Was I just a mistake or what? Or was it just a trial that failed? So maybe I am the devil's boi...

I

ask whoever who created this world Jesus, Allah and all, Do you think it's some joke Or a game on your Part? Come out Lord Jesus, come out Anyone at all.

Answer all my questions, As your friends can't do it at all. You made me so confused Made my whole life feel so'wrong' And now there is not much of a doubt

That

I really hate you

all.

How can you call yourself God? When you have made my mother cry Made her believe she gave birth to the devil And.do you forget you created her at all. Can anyone answer me? The ones who believe in God The ones who say he created this world Do you think I am the devil's boi? By Charith pAcs

3


Next (and I am only highllghting the events I attended, but this by no means is any indication of the number of events on hand for the hundreds of thousands who attended Pride in Toronto), was Addicted to Love, a classical concert by I FURIOSI joined by lutenist Lucas Harris performing works by Handel, Geminiani, Dowland and others. The performance at the Metropolitan United Church was incredible. The setting was surreal and ethereal. (I wasn't sure whether I had to genuflect or make the sign of the cross on entering the Church or both! Ah! That Catholic background rea rs its ecclesiastic head at the oddest of times | )

Using the backdrop of the grand pipe organ at the alteq the musicale ensemble enthralled the crowd

with their creative interpretations of

the

composers. And very creative they were too

I

was elated at the thought of leading a Pride Parade in Toronto and extremely honoured that one of the biggest PRIDE events in the world chose me to be its International Grand Marshall. I had past recollections that Pride Toronto attracted over 1 million spectators and participants and was nervous and excited all at the same time. I arrived in Toronto and was housed at a spectacular bed and breakfast Inn, just 2 blocks away from Toronto's Gay village at Church and Wellesley. From the moment I landed, the staff, volunteers and board of Pride Toronto went out of their way to make me feel welcome and comfortable. The ensuing 10 days were a whirlwind of activities. Although overwhelming at times, it had to rank as one of the most significant and inspiring 10 days of my entire life! Pride Toronto officially

got under way with

in

black leather, gothic gear and renaissance garb! The highlight for me that evening was Asoka, a Gay Sri Lankan Canadian living in Toronto, who came up to me and said how proud he was that a Sri Lankan was awarded the honour of being Pride Toronto's Grand MarshalM was touched not only by his

a

reception at Woody's on Church Street on June 15'n 2007. Many may recall that Woody's was used in the Gay TV series Queer as Folk, as the bar that Brian and Michael and their friends frequented. The theme that evening was Priscilla Queen of the Desert and a polished trio of Drag Queens performed all seven numbers from the film with style, grace and a pinch of mischiefl It was marvelous!

MarshalM was touched not only by his sincerity but also by his excitement and Grand

friend liness.

On Monday June l8'n, the official Rainbow

Flag

Raising Ceremony took place atToronto's City Hall. Mayor David Miller, Councilor Kyle Rae and others attended this auspicious occasion. Serenaded by

the Toronto Gay men's Chorus, Mayor Miller

officially declared open PRIDE and raised the

rainbow flag over city halM had goose bumps as the rainbow flag slowly rose up the flag pole to fly high and proud over Toronto. Perhaps in another 10 years, we may have the same here at our Town Hall opposite Vihara Maha Devi Park! One can dream !

Cindy Lauper's "True Colours" concert (Tuesday 29'n

June) was next on my growing list of 'things to


do and

see'! Featuring Debbie Harry (of lBlondie'

fame) and a colourful ensemble of guest artistes that included Erasure, The Click, the Dresden Dolls, Margaret Cho and The Gossip, it was an amazing night of music and PRIDEI The Molson Amphitheatre was packed with a predominantly Gay audience and it was such an intense feeling to be around so many Gay people - over 10,000 of them - just being themselves, holding hands, kissing, cuddling and dancing to the music!

At the Gala Dinner and Award Ceremony on Wednesday (20'n June), I was honoured to present the Human Rights award to the Little

Sisters' Bookstore from Vancouver for being in the forefront of the fight to protect freedom of speech and to print, publish, import and distribute material to the Queer ILGBT] community. The $300 per plate black tie fundraiser was attended by the Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty and the former Minister of National Defense and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bill Graham amongst various other dignitaries and politicians. I was thrilled to be introduced to these distinguished gentlemen' Premier McGuinty was equally delighted to meet someone from Sri Lanka where his daughter had spent many months working with a Tsunami relief agency in Matara! Small world indeed! The Gala Dinner and Award Ceremony was a handsome affair - a recreation of the famous Truman Capote 1966 Black and White Ball! How I wished Sahran was with me. He would have been in his element!

My last weekend in Toronto came upon me in a big rush and was truly amazing. Starting with the Dyke march on Saturday - which was the first I had ever attended and culminating with Pride day on Sunday! The Gay Village, a 12 block radius, was closed to vehicular traffic from 3pm on Friday till

6am Monday morning! The partying began in earnest on Friday night and many were seen stumbling back to their dens early Monday morning

!

There were many large

stages

constructed within the village that had the most

wonderful entertainment. Saturday's

entertainment featured The Click (an all dyke band) and the Indigo Girls and was attended by thousands upon thousands of fans - the whole area was jammed! I was introduced to Emily of the Indigo Girls, which was quite a thrill (although I

That Thursday (21" June) was an all women, all dyke happening aptly named LIBIDO! More than a hundred gorgeous dykes filled the little bar at the Gladstone Hotel on Queen Street to party and just hang out! Performances included Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (remember she performed here at our Pride in 2006?), drag kings (I thought our drag kings perform a little betterl!) and Deb the wonder Dl from Proud FM - the most happening radio station of Toronto! PacE 5


didf,'t know it at the time! Long story...). The Dyke March featured Rachel Epstein as the Honoured Dyke - a lovely woman who co-founded

Dykes Planning Tykes,

a

programme for

lesbian/bi/queer women considering parenthood.

I had the

privilege

of

meeting Rachel

and

members of her group and was impressed at their dedication and commitment.

As much as the Dyke March put me on a

'high'that down from, I cannot even begin to describe my feelings as Sunday dawned bright and beautifuM was rushed to the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) studios for a live interview with Marivel Taruc, Host of the "Newsworld Morning" Show. Then it was on to the Pre-Parade Brunch for all the VIP guests of Pride Toronto followed by a mad dash to the assembly area for the parade! Asoka, my wonderful Sri Lankan friend, joined me here to march behind me in the lead contingent. I was so happy to see him! Mark and Daniel - my married Gay friends (yes they are legally married in Canada!) and two of the most wonderful men you could ever hope to meet - were the co-producers of the lead contingent. They made sure that everything was in order before the parade began and whisked me to my white rickshaw that was to bear me through the crowded streets of Toronto, at the head of the parade! There was so much excitement on the streets.....people had been gathering to gain vantage points from very early in the morningl They lined the street sometimes 10-20 deep. They hung out on balconies and roofs. They were everywhere!

I was afraid to come

My heart was pounding when the 3 dykes on bikes that were my escort, revved up their bikes and the parade began I

What's it like to have almost a million people watching you as you wave and blow kisses to them? What's it like to have thousands upon

thousands of cameras and videos pointed at you? What's it like to have hundreds of thousands of gay men and women, transgendel two spirit,

intersex and queer people cheering you on? Believe me it felt pretty darn terrificl Tears were streaming down my eyes as I rode this white rickshaw with the words "International Grand Marshall Rosanna Flamer-Caldera EQUAL GROUND Sri Lanka" printed on it. It felt very special knowing I was representing my country and my LGBTIQ community. It felt incredible that

I was being acknowledged for my work not only in Sri Lanka but across the globe. I felt the love and warmth that sprang out of those people who had come from near and far to watch the Pride Parade in Toronto. They acknowledged me and cheered

me and made me feel like a million trillion!

I was drawn down the streets in my chariot (OK...Rickshaw!!) I was sprayed with water from water canons - an initiation and a mark of respect for the International Grand Marshall and all those who came after her! Fortunately I was wearing black underwear under my crisp white shirt. In any case it turned into a bit of a 'wet shirt' contest and the women spectators especially, ate it all upl

As

What an amazing experience it wasl Truly the most awe inspiring of my life! And what made it all work was that team of people from Pride Toronto the Board, the staff and all the volunteers. They were a well oiled machine and worked together as a team in the most personable, friendly, and committed way. They looked after each other (and me) and were the most dedicated and caring bunch of people I have ever come across. Well done Pride Toronto and thanks....for the honour...... and the many memoriesl


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Translated from the book, Gay Men Speak-The yes Book of Sex bY Ronald D. Lee

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United Nations Grant

Consultative Status to

2

LGBT Groups

(United Nations, Geneva, July

23,2OO7). In a vote that recognises the importance of including the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) human rights groups at

the United Nations, the

UN

Economic and Social Council

(ECOSOC) granted two nongovernmental

consultative status on Friday to

organisations (NGOs) that address human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, The two groups, Coalition gaie et

lesbienne du Qu6bec (CGLQ) and the Swedish Federation

look forward to maintaining this role as we work with other members of the international

community

to

advance

LGBT

rights." Rosa nna Flamer-Ca ldera,

Co-Secretary General of ILGA, which had urged its members to lobby their governments on this crucial vote, affirmed, "We would like the UN NGO Committee to acknowledge the repeated message sent by ECOSOC that LGBT NGOs should have access to the UN on an equal basis to

the UN for years.

Edinanci Silva: A champion in a league of her own

Saturday 27 July 2OO7

I

Published in the Edici6n impresa Translated from Spanish by Curtis E. Hinkle RIO DE JANEIRO.- Edinanci Silva

was continually mocked and made fun of at school back in Campiffa Grande. With all the cruelty that children sometimes become involved ifl, she was mocked because of her unsolved

she was a other NGOs. We also problem: hermaphrodite. She had a male congratulate our members CGLQ and RFSL on their victories."

A number of additional

for Lesbian , Gdy, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL), will be able to use their new consultative status at the UN

sexual organ, but felt like a woman; in fact, her internal reproductive organs were

female. She suffered throughout her adolescence because of her

situation. And after the Brazilian stepped up to the

human

podium, she still to this day

rights and other issues of importance to the LGBT community by ensuring access to UN meetings, delivery of oral and written

memories about this after having taken first prize in women's judo (in the division

to work directly on

has somewhat painful

up to 78 kg).

reports, a nd orga n isi ng events to facilitate

understanding of the abuse and discrimination that LGBT people face around the world. ECOSOC consists

states

of 54 member

of the United Nations,

drawn from the five UN regions:

Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the West.

Edinanci's story is not new, but it remains touching. And it

generates controversy, applications from diverse regions are due to be reviewed by the NGO Committee, beginning January 2008. Currently, there are about 2,800 NGOs with consultative status with the UN.

Three European LGBT

NGOs

States from all five regions voted to overturn a negative decision by the ECOSOC's NGO Committee and to accredit the LGBT groups.

were granted consultative status by ECOSOC in December 2006: The Danish National Association for Gays and Lesbians (LBL), The

the possibility, together with others, to affect

International Lesbian and Gay

"RFSL now has

and improve the situation for the world's LGBT persons," said Soren Juvas, President of RFSL. Yvan Lapointe, General Director of CGLQ, added, "We are really excited by the decision and are proud of the leadership role that Qu6bec and Canada have played in the field of human rights. We Pace 10

European Region of the

Association

(ILGA-Europe), and the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany

in

spite of the fact she has been competing as a woman for more than a decade now, Which is how she feels about herself. Yesterday she returned to center stage for the gold medal, the same medal she won four years

ago in Santo Domingo.

Once again, just as the last time, there was one contestant remaining, the Argentine, Lorena Briceffo, who lost in the semifinals, taking the bronze medal in the same division.

Daughter of a father who was a bricklayer and a mother who was

h ou sewife, Ed in a n ci wa s (LSVD). The US-based a brought up in poverty. In fact, up Internationa I Wages Due to the age of 15 she worked Lesbians and Australian-based cutting sugar cane. But at 15, Coalition of Activist Lesbians she suffered from labyrinthitis

have had consultative status at

(inflammation of the inner ear), a painful illness that from time to time can be caused from stress.


They recommended that

bronze medals in world

start doing sPorts: she went to the club and the onlY oPenings

competitions (Paris 97 and Osaka 03) and champion of the world super cup 2007 .

were for judo. This was how her career began. And she began to

like what she was doing.

She

wanted to be coached so that she could perfect her skills even further, but her mother would not let her leave home. UP until she was 17 and then she told her that they offered coaching in Sao Paulo that she could not miss. In realitY, she had already made all the necessary arrangements to leave and go there. But the key moment was in 1996. In April of that Year/ she underwent a double oPeration: removal of her male sex organ

with clitoral

while Jayanta Ghosh was a farmer by profession. There was constant tension in their respective families with regard to their 'relationship'. The neighbourhood of the duo involved the local CPM leadershiP

Pan-American chamPion, two

she

reconstruction

when repeated intervention

Gay couple commits suicide

rather than be aPart xxxxA Translation of the Report in Anandabazar Patrika, FridaY, JulY 28,2007xxx The police have stumbled uPon the

dead bodies of two Youths in embrace from Dihibagnan in the Arambagh area of HooghlY district in West Bengal. Initial enquiries by the police reveal the two were 'homosexual'. There was mounting pressure on the duo after their relationship came to be known bY

surgery. According to the IOC, this was what was necessary for her to qualify as female and

to participate in the

OlYmPic

Lesbian couple killed in

Games. She was a ParticiPant in Atlanta 96, SydneY 2000 and Athens 2004. And in sPite of being the favorite for winning

the title

execution-style mu rder

From Fred Bridgland

Post-Apartheid South Africa has one of the world's most liberal

constitutions. It is the onlY country in Africa - a continent where homosexualitY is widelY vilified - to enshrine equal

able to take home the OlYmPic medal. Howeve; at almost 31, she has never given uP. "As

I

have two arms, two

rights for gays and lesbians and

legs and can walk, I will keeP on

fighting

to

make mY dreams

come true", she saYs now, with the

same courage and determination she has always had. She is different. And she knows it. "To this day, many judokas do not want to compete with me. I know that I am different, but mY mind

thinks and acts like that of

a

woman." Up until a few Years ago, she dreamed of adopting children; but now, after more thinking about this as a more mature woman, she feels that she will not be able to make this dream come true. She is content with sPoiling her nieces and nephews and her Parents whom she gives allthe medals she wins. Her resume includes several

awards:

in

Johannesburg

in all these

competitions, she was never

long as

couldn't deter them from meeting. The KarmadhakshYa of the local Panchayat and CPM leader Uttam Samanta said, "We tried to resolve the issue from the PartY level, however they did not resPond". Another resident from the same area Ratan Manna and ShYamal Ghosh informed "EverYbodY used to ridicule their relationship. For the past few months their intimacY had crossed all limits" TheY were also threatened to be beaten uP bY many of the villagers as well. Their suicide came as a result of the realisation that it shall not be possible for them to continue their relationshiP.

Although she never has won an Olympic medal, Edinanci Silva has won several awards: Two-time

the villagers. They JaYanta Ghosh (26) and Swapan Manna (26) committed suicide realising that its not possible to continue their 'relationship', the police said.

Villagers informed that the two were seen to be in an intimate relationship despite being married and that there were tensions in their respective families regarding

this relationshiP. Shalishi,

a

community disPute resolution method, had also been convened several times in order to ease the tensions, but this could not deter the two from meeting frequentlY' The duos bodies, in embrace/ were discovered on FridaY morning, at the memorial site of freedom fighter from Dihibagnan, Satish Ray. A bottle of Poison was found next to them. Swapan Manna owned a Saloon

to recognise citizens' rights to enter same-sex marriages. But the constitutionally enshrined civil liberties of Soweto lesbian couple Sizakele Sigasa and Salome Masooa did not Prevent their raPe, torture and murder last week in an a p p a re n t e xe c u t io n - stY le homophobic attack. Sigasa, 34, a prominent lesbian rights activist, was shot six times in her head and collarbone. Her underpants had been used to tie her hands behind her back, and her ankles had been tied together with the laces from her own trainers' Masooa, 23, had been shot through the back of her head. The pair had left a Soweto Party to take a friend home on the night of the attack. Their bodies were later discovered near their car bY a jogger. Although no arrests have been made, in a countrY where Pecs

11


daily murders are commonplace, gay rights organisations said the killings were driven by "lesbophobia".

The Joint Working Group, the umbrella organisation for South Africa,s gay and lesbian associations, said the murders were part of a

growing epidemic of hate crimes. In the past two months there have been two other murders of lesbian women in black townships. Simangele Nhlapo, a member of a support group for women living with Aids, was raped and murdered; her two-year-old daughter was rapbd and left with both her legs broken. In another incident, 16-year-old Madoe Mafubedu, living openly as a lesbian, was raped and repeatedly stabbed until she died. While many prominent white South Africans live openly and safely in gay and lesbian relationships, Zanele Muholi, community relations officer with a prominent lesbian rights group, said: ',It is being both black and gay which is problematic. "I have recorded 50 rape cases, dating back 10 years, involving black lesbians in townships. Rape and violence against lesbians is common. The problem is largely that of patriarchy. The men who perpetrate such crimes see rape as curative and as an attempt to show women their place in society. " The icon of South Africa's black lesbian movement is Zoliswa Nkonyana, who was clubbed and kicked to death aged 19 in 2006 by a group of about 20 young men in the Cape Town township of Khayelitsha for being an openly practising lesbian.

Among

the prominent people Sigasa

12

2000. He died in November 2003. Many persecuted Zimbabwean gays have fled to Britain, including Kudah Samuriwo, one of the country's most outspoken homosexuals, who has become a drag performer on the London theatre circuit with his show The eueen of Africa. One of his favourite jokes goes: "I don't know what Mugabe has against pigs and dogs. He must have had the worst sex ever with them." Samuriwo said he was raped at the age of 14 by his uncle, a soldier, after the man returned from Mugabe's military crackdown on the minority Ndebele people of western Zimbabwe.

Samuriwo's show charts his personal story, including Mugabe's oppression of the gay community, with homosexuals repeatedly bribed,

detained, beaten and raped by the authorities. And he intends to take his show back home to Zimbabwe one day as part of a new liberation struggle. "After all," he said, "a queen must protect her subjects, even if the president refuses to do so.,'

had

campaigned against was former vice-president Jacob Zuma, who has just fathered his l8th child by a ninth woman, and who prior to his trial for raping his niece last year denounced gay people as "a disgrace to the nation and to God". But while gays and lesbians have constitutional protection in South Africa, elsewhere on the continent being gay is considered un-African, unChristian, anti-family and a product of witchcraft. From Uganda, where homosexuality is punishable by life " imprisonment, to Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe dismisses gays as "lower than pigs and dogs", homophobia traps gay people in dangerous, closeted lives. In Zimbabwe, Tracy Mhara, a 33-year-old lesbian who lives in the capital, Harare, travels the 90 miles to visit her family's rural home accompanied by a married male friend who she introduces as her husband-to-be to cover her tracks. When asked why he has not paid the customary ',lobola" - a payment from a prospective husband to the bride's family of a dozen or more cows - he smiles and pleads poverty. Pecr

Zimbabwe's first post-independence ceremonial president, the Reverend Canaan Banana, died a publicly disgraced figure after a high-profile sodomy conviction. Banana, a Methodist minister and father of four, was revealed in his 1999 trial as a closet homosexual who habitually abused his young male aides, using drugged soft drinks and promises of career advancement to secure sexual favours. Banana was briefly jailed after being sentenced in

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Ameena was short listed for the Gratiaen Prize for her first book of short stories FIFTEEN and won the State Literary Award for her second book of stories ZILLIJ. The first Man Asian Literary Prize will be awarded in the autumn of 2007 for an Asian novel yet unpublished in English. We congratulate Ameena on her achievement and wish her the very best of luckl Ameena...,we are cheering for you!

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My friend, he tells me "I depend too much on my friends.

I

tend to revolve my entire life around you guys. Whenever I'm bored, I want to meet up with you guys. It's not healthy cos' all of you have your own lives and other friends to hang out with. And soon you will all move on with your lives, get married, have children etc., and where will that leave me?" I tell him, "Don't talk rubbish! You know I'm never going to get married and besides, do you see anyone in the gang getting married, this side of the century??? Hardly anyone's even going out with anyone at the moment! So, what the hell are you on about? Just stop talking bullshit and relax will you? We'll always be together!" He gives a wry smile and says, "You're so naive aren't you? You really believe we'll always be together don't you? Wake up and smell the coffee, darling, I hear reality's making some house calls today. I don't mean to sound harsh, but, you're way too idealistic for your own good. Okay, I'll accept the 'you're never getting married bit', but, even you will eventually do whatever it is you have to do; help the children of Africa or save the world or whatever it is you want to do! I'm not saying it's


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anyone's fault. All I'm saying is that it's bound to happen someday and I may as well prepare myself for it, rather than be left high and dry!"

I cling on to my last shred of optimism as I argue, "But, why are you so convinced that you'll be left all on your lonesome and that everyone willjust turn tail and desert you? It could be any one of us, not just you, we are pretty much the same after all. It's an adverse effect of being part of a 'clan' that virtually eats, drinks and shits together. I'm not being idealistic. I know things will change. Heck, everything and everyone does, at some point but, that includes you as well. How can you be so sure, that you won't be the one just 'up-ping and leaving'the rest of us? What about your future plans?" "Oh...but I do have future plans. Lots and lots of them in fact. I want to get married, have a family, buy a house, a

car, a dog,..the whole darn picture perfect scenario! I want it all! Hmmm...but, let's see...ah yes, I'm G-A-Y, I live here in Sri Lanka and by the by, I have something called a family that thinks being 'gay' is a phase you go through (and that's only those who are even willing to consider the possibility that I'm gay!) So, please do tell me again how much 'the same' we 'all' are!" He said q u ite matter-of-factly. For a 'very rare' moment in my life...I was absolutely speechlessl It was as though a lightning bolt had escaped from the sky and hit me direct on the head! I was at a complete loss for words. "It really can't be that bad now can it, "I wanted to say. "Things will get better. I just know they will, " (but, do I really?) . "Can't you talk

to your family somehow?" (Who am I kidding?) "At least your brother or sister-in-law...?" said I clutching at straws. "Tell them what you're going through. Surely they'd understand won't they?" Would they? In their shoes, would I? What could I say to make him feel better? Where would I even start?

it hit me. I have been 'looking at the world through rose tinted glasses'. Yes, I am his friend. Yes, I love him. Yes, I understand him. Yes, I accept him. Yes, I'm there for him. But, what did any of this matten..if rlght here, right now, there's absolutely nothing in the whole wide world I could do or say to him that could make things right! "We are very much the same my friend...it's just that nobody wants to see it that way." And then

PROTECT YOURSELF

use

a

CONEDOIVI TIP5

ON HOW TO

L/SE

A CONDOM WELL

Unroll the condom over your penis. DO NOT unroll the condom first and then try to put it on. Put lots of water based lube over the outside of the condom. DO NOT put lube on your penis before you put the condom on - this causes the condom to slip off! While having sex, check that the condom is still on and not torn. If you are having intercourse for more than 45 minutes, put a new condom on. Finally, practice makes perfect Do not be afraid to practice putting them onl! Pr.ce l5


including those of my own to prevent me from enjoying myself? No way. It was settled. I would be going. Traffic at 7.30pm? Not a chance. And they werevery good reviews. Entering Barefoot, part of me was still determined to make the rest uncomfortable. I would be lying to say that I was initially focused on the film. I started to people-watch, searching for things out of the ordinary. Looking for things to disturb me and say, 'Stillglad you came?'

All I got for my efforts were people laughing in the right places, friends enjoying themselves, normal people doing normal things. Even drinking beer.

Kirill Shestakov our maestro dance instructor from Russia, was with us for only a short while, but his expertise on the dance floor is legend! He entertained us at Colombo Pride and gave of his time and expertise to teach us the fine art of ballet, belly dancing and disco! Kirrlll we miss you already! Those of us who had the good fortune to avail ourselves

of Kirrill's expertise found tauter bodies and better We wish him well and hope he can come back to put us through the paces once more! Thank you Kirrill!

rhythm.

We are now looking for a new dance instructor..so anyone out there who can teach us, please get in touch with Rosanna orAindri at5679766.

66d

Although I had always professed to be liberal and accepting of homosexuality, I had never before spoken to so many in such a short period. Perhaps fuelled by commonly-held stereotypes, I had assumed that a conversation with one would be no different to that with another, How wrong I was. With arguably more variation within the homosexual community than between sexual orientations, it seems ridiculous that so much emphasis is placed on a person's sexual preference. Psychologists interested in social cognition will tell you that humans, desperate to make sense of their world, tend to categorise people into simple groups. A person will always be 'black' before they are 'funny', 'gay' before they are 'intelligent'.

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presented its annual week long celebration of Gay Pride. In a country where homosexuality is still a criminal offense, this was and is indeed, a bold move on the part of this young organisation, Created in 2004 to level the playing fietd for all citizens of this country, EQUAL GROUND's mission is to eliminate the stigma and fear attached to homosexuality in Sri Lanka and, encourage equality for all sexual orientations and gender identities regardless of ethnicity, religion, class or culture.

overcoming shame using theater games, movement and discussion. The workshop took place on Saturday 26' l4ay. 'Happy Hookers' a docurrentary on Mumbai's n sgender Com m e rcia I Sex workers a nd 'Dangerous Living'a docume-:ary on the LGBT

Tra

Human Rights Defenders in Asla ,.,e.e shown on

the second day of the film festrva . r,,,vo light hearted comedies ended the film fes:,,,a1. ,A Touch of Pink'a gay movie about boy rc, es borr and 'Chutney Popcorn' a lesbian movie about

PRIDE in Sri Lanka therefore is not only necessary,

it

is an important step in obtaining acceptance from a narrow minded majority that clings to archaic laws imported from Britain to criminalise and ostracise a minority purely because they dare to be different. PRIDE also serves to instill a sense of pride and belonging within the 'Gay' community of Sri Lanka giving them a space to be 'who they a re'.

The 2007 Colombo Pride festivities got going on 20'n May with a 3 day film festival - the first of its kind in Sri Lanka - held at the Barefoot Gallery Caf6. On show at the LGBT SOUTH ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL were films about Queer South Asians. Sri Lanka saw the premier of two important pieces The Journey (Sancharram) and Two Men in Shoulder Stand. The first was a sensitive and

creative feature film produced, directed and written by Ligy Pullapally, of a true story about 2 young women Kiran and Delilah from Kerala who fall in love and have to face the consequences of

their same sex relationship. The second was a 20 minute short film about a male couple, Sarath and Hassan, one HIV+ and one negative, doing yoga together as a means of maintaining health in the absence of medical treatments. EQUAL GROUND was pleased to be able to welcome to Sri Lanka for the first time, Paul Knox the writer, director and producer of Two Men in Shoulder Stand. paul was in Sri Lanka for the entire week of pRIDE and presented a unique workshop on safer sex and PecE 18

two girls and a baby, kept the audience in stitches. For the first time, yet again, Sri Lankan audiences were treated to a theatre piece by Bolo Theatre the only gay theatre group in the country. The thrilling addition to this presentation was Gratiaen Prize winner Visakesa Chandrasekaram who performed his own 'Curry Time Stories'. Vissa, as he is popularly known, performed several characters in his 40 minute presentation. His performance was riveting and quite dazzlingl

The Colombo Pride 2007 party lifted off at H2O on the 24'nl Over 300 people rocked the house till the very wee hours of the morning. Amazingly, not everyone was gay or lesbian at the party, but everyone managed to have a great time without prejudice or fearl This was one of the amazing things about this PRIDE festival...that gay and

straight rubbed shoulders together, drank togethe; ate together and never once did

anything untoward happen. It really goes to show that people can live in peace and harmony if they put their minds to it!


For the first time (isn't it awesome to hear this phrase reapeated) the Drag King and Drag Queen of Colombo PRIDE, were crowned with much aplomb! Drag Queen Bhanu looked ravishing in his Fairy Queen outfit with a rather large tiara completing the ensemble. His tiara was bigger than the one EQUAL GROUND was presenting which meant Sahran ended up putting it around his neck instead of his head! Drag King Dhee dressed in a handsome cream suit with fedora to match created the impression that she was ready to 'get down'l Not only did she dress the part, she walked the walk and talked the talk, striding into

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of The Journey (Sancharram) with

Sinhala Punchi Theatre in Borella, the audience, mostly Sinhala speaking, got to enjoy the movie and its beautiful cast and direction. This programme was a collaboration between the Women's Support Group (a lesbian, bisexual and transgender women's group) and EQUAL GROUND. It created a sense of unity and strength to have these two organisations coming together for the first time to celebrate PRIDE,

subtitles. Screened at the

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with an energetic and colourful celebration on the beach - the Rainbow Kite Festival and Sundown Dance. The day was PRIDE culminated

beautiful though warm. A stiff sea breeze ensured the kites would fly and over 100 people from all walks enjoyed the sun, surf and some fabulous retro music pumped out by two rocking

DJ's. The festivities continued till quite late in the evening. Kites flew high, spirits soared higher and Colombo Pride came to its conclusion on a positive and very high note! A good time was had by all. The message of PRIDE was heard loud and clear and- Sri Lanka.....we hope that in this present climate of tension and fear, we do get together - UNITED for EQUALIW!

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Terry Writes..... In late 2007, I decided that I needed a change from the work I had been doing in Vancouver, and began researching possible jobs overseas; I finally applied for; and was accepted for a one year contract in Colombo. The excitement of moving to Sri Lanka was countered by the strangeness I felt, and would continue to feel, of being away from my partner of nine years. Although my partner Geoff and I had spent endless hours mentally preparing ourselves for my departure, I couldn't quite figure out how to prepare myself for the gay-singledom I would be experiencing in a country where homosexual acts are stillillegal. When I arrived in Colombo, and got settled into my new surroundings, I began reading-up on the.'scene.,

tried to connect socially with guys on the Gaydar internet site, and actively sought insight into gay culture in Sri Lanka. In the first couple of months, I occupied my time with work, travel, reading, and enjoying my independence, but it soon became apparent that I needed more than this. I was working with a local NGO so I was hesitant to be "out" at work, and socially I hadn't met any likeminded souls; I felt like I was living a bit of a closeted existence. My double-life memories were flooding back to me: ..Do you have a wife? Why not? Do you like Sri Lankan women?" My survival instinct always allowed me to come up with good stories, skirt around the questions, and move on to more "important" topics. Into my third month, I began getting in the rhythm of meeting people, became less paranoid about the archaic British laws on the books, and met a few gay friends. It was nice to talk about gay issues and not be worried about saying the wrong thing and being

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completely gender neutral when talking about my "partner". At that time I was also introduced to EeUAL GROUND by a friend who asked me to;oin him fcr- -rovie night at the

EG office.

As a result of that introduction, I beca-e e, e^ -cre interested in exploring the issues faced by the LGBTIe community in Srl Lanka. What I admired most about the organisation was the focus on "human rights for everyone". EQUAL GROUND wasn't just about genderi or sexual orientation, it was about inclusiveness, respect, and support. I finally felt like I had found a piece of the puzzle I had been missing; I began to volunteer, and I came in at a time when EG was gearing up for Pride Week. I was so pleased with the work they were doing, that I decided to create an "awareness and funding campaign" aimed at my friends and family in

Canada. I got many letters of support

and

encouragement for EQUAL GROUND 'S work, and was also able to collect $800 from "Team Vancouver,, for Pride (with more pledges still coming in). pride week was fun, thought-provoking, and reflected the true spirit of what Pride should be.

I am becoming more settled into my Colombo setting, I have good friends now, have discovered some great places to eat, socialise, and enjoy an ongoing summer, and to top it off, I've also discovered a small sanctuary called EQUAL GROUND, where diversity is celebrated and people are allowed to be themselves.


rf,rv *k ArDs WTIAT'IS H[V? HIV stonds for the Humon lmmunodeficiency Virus, which wos originolly identified in Poris in Moy 1983 by Luc Montognier & which belongs to o group o{ viruses colled retro viruses. HIV is o virus thot people con become infected with ond thot they con then poss on to other people.

HOW DO VIRUSES WORIG Viruses work by copying their genetic moteriol (DNA) into the genetic moteriol of humon Cells. ln this woy o cell remoins infected until it dies. A H lmmune system will develop onti-bodies thot ottoch to ,or flogging ii for destruction by other immune cells o specific infectious invoder, either inociivoting

WHY Through o process thot is still not fully underS HIV infects key humon cells (Cd4 Cells) which: either by killing them or render.ing.i it begins its slow ottock o{ the immuriBj will probobly look ond feel perfectly wel!$ they hove on HIV test. As their immune

AIDS stonds for Acquired Someone with HIV moy or moy which is mosl eosily u The current AIDS de{inlti HIV

immune system from working properly. -ordinote ihe body's fight ogoinst infection, e becomes infected with HIV is noi visible. A person infected with HIV they will not know thot they ore infected unless ill become vulneroble to opportunistic illnesses.

ry one with the HIV virus hos AIDS.

to Al

iiion, ihl conditioni:] of one or morel

t o virus, or o diseose, but o syndrome system hos become deficient.

ond o Cd4 count below 200 or ic infections.

IIIV TRA.II{SM Any octivi

*From molher to

fluids con be possed from person to is considered to be risking HIV tro nprolected onol or voginol sex. * Shoring iniecting equipment even breost milk of on infected women con tronsmit the Virus,

[T [S NOT POSSIBI,E TO BECOME INFE0TED WITH

I

Tf,[V TTIRO{.IGTI:

Shoring plotes cups or cutlery Mosquito or other insect bites Touching, Hugging or Shoking honds Eoting {ood prepored by someone with HIV

SAFER SEX The only sex thot is completely sofe includes those sexuol octivities thot do not involve ony sexuol fluid from on infected person getting into on uninfected persons body.Sofe sex octivities include hugging, touching, coressing ond mutuol mosturbotion. Deep or open mouthed kissing is considered o very low risk octivity, this is becouse HIV thot is present in Solivo hos very minute quontities of the virus ond is regorded insufficient to leod to HIV infection olone. Sofer sex is often token to meon using o condom for penetrotive sex. Using o condom mokes it very hord for the virus to poss belween people when they ore hoving sex. PacB 23



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