The Malta Independent 21 September 2021, Tuesday

Pride

Owen Bonnici Friday, 10 September 2021, 08:57 Last update: about 10 days ago

Today marks the start of Pride Week with the theme #You are included” which will go on until 19 September.  In the light of the regulations related to COVID mitigation, things had to be done differently this year again.  Still, the event calendar is an exciting one and I am sure it will go down very well.

The people behind the organizing entity of Pride Week, Allied Rainbow Communities (ARC), are very committed and hard-working and have done an absolutely brilliant job.  As one of the main partners of Pride Week, our Ministry offered all the support and our team really enjoyed working together with ARC towards this beautiful event.

ADVERTISEMENT

The first recorded LGBTIQ+ Pride Demonstration in Malta was held in 2004 and was organised at the time by the Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement (MGRM).  Back in 2004 not more than 50 demonstrators attended in Valletta and very few of them were members of the LGBTIQ community.  The theme used was “Gay Rights? Human Rights!” and I still recall vividly in my memory Gabi Calleja (who unlike many of us has not changed a bit since then) holding the placard with that script, fearlessly and full of positive confidence.

A lot of books will be surely written about Gaby and the rest of team at MGRM at the time who were determined to change things and lay the foundations for the wonderful difference that happened afterwards.  I have only words of admiration for them.

Fast forward 18 years and things have improved a lot, although of course a lot still needs to be done.  But the facts speak for themselves: in the last pre-COVID march which was organized, not less than 8,000 people attended including a lot of the members of the LGBTIQ+ community.

Since 2016, ARC was recognized by the different LGBTIQ Voluntary Organisations as the organisers of Pride Week and Pride March.  Over the years, ARC has managed to keep building on previous successes and keep making Pride Week a much  sought-after  annual  event  in  the  Maltese  national  calendar,  supported by everyone.

As it says clearly in its website, “Malta Pride keeps the  LGBTIQ+ community  at  its  core  and  ensures  it  doesn’t  become  a  vehicle  for pink  washing  by  corporate  or  political propaganda.” Wise words indeed.

I am proud that our Malta has, for the sixth year in a row, placed itself at the top of ILGAs equality index and we work hard to maintain that place.  We have to keep improving things and reforming laws because success does not come on its own and other countries want to top that list too.

All the details on pride week can be found on maltapride.org.  The list of events is substantial - however, I would really like you to pay a visit to the Collective Queer Visual Arts Exhibition called Refraction which will be opened today at Spazju Kreattiv or visit the Qawsalla Hub which will be opened tomorrow in Gozo. 

We will also be holding a Symbolic representation of the Pride flag (25 metres long) in 6 different locations around Malta and Gozo and they will be recorded and distributed on social media.    An exhibition at 104 St Lucia Street will feature a pictorial history of MGRM and the Maltese LGBTIQ community and will be a beautiful reminder of what happened in the last 20 years.

During Pride Week Dr Rachel Scicluna will also be inviting members of the Maltese LGBTIQ community to a storytelling space to discuss ways of “making ourselves at home” at City Lounge and Dr Donia Gamoudi, in a separate event, will discuss the health aspect with a particular focus on HIV.

Another conference by the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics (SOGIGESC) Unit within the Human Rights Directorate will be hosting its annual conference, at which the Unit will present the work done during the last year while other events will be held by Drachma and Graffiti.

An interesting event will be a community discussion by “Ghajjejt u Xbajt” (that is a name which you cannot forget!) and ARC which describes itself as a judgement-free space where we discuss the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly of the LGBTIQ community

Pride Week has also ample space for film screening, musical entertainment and some fun and social events.

A big thank you goes to the fantastic LGBTIQ community here in Malta for all the energy they put into Pride Week.

+ + +

Ever since the Wachowski sisters produced “The Matrix” trilogy I made it a must to view any feature film or series that these two brilliant minds come up with.  That is why I watched one of their most recent work, Sense8, on Netflix which is unique and certainly not the run of the mill.

The constant leitmotif behind Sense8 is the concept of unity in diversity.  The Wachowskis are themselves transgender and they present us with 8 diverse people who are not only mere homo sapiens but rather homo sensoriums and as a consequence have this incredible ability to connect to each other and literally do everything together, whenever they want to.

So we have a gay transgender hacktivist in San Francisco, a matata driver in Kenya, a police officer in Chicago, a businesswomen and martial artist in Korea, an Icelandic DJ in London, a gay actor in Mexico, a German national involved in crime, and a scientist in India who have the ability to appear in each other’s side to each other and sometimes do things together as one.  Each person utilizes the talents he or she has to help the other member of the cluster in times of need.

The main message is that through empathy, people can get together and achieve more in unity through their diversity.  If we were to use a bit more empathy with one another the world would be a much better place.

At a point in the series, pictures appear of a member of the cluster, Mexican actor Lito Rodriguez, which reveal that he is in a gay relationship.  Therefore, as Lito is entering the cinema for a premier of his own film, he is questioned by a journalist about the fact that he is in fact gay. 

The matata driver from Kenya, Capheus, comes to the rescue and helps Lito answer the question as he, Capheus, himself is being questioned by a Kenyan journalist on why he loves so much a white action hero Van Damme.  I would like to reproduce the answer which Lito and Capheus give to the (two) journalists, because it is really magical:  

"No you are not trying to understand anything. Because labels are the opposite of understanding.

What does courage have to do with the color of a man's skin?

I was just little kid who loved movies. And the heroes I watched made me feel like I was braver than I was. Funnier. Smarter. They made me believe that I could do things that I didn't think I could do. But that boy who watched TV with his mama, and grandma and aunties, is not the man who became an actor/driver. That driver/actor is not the same person you see standing here.

Who am I? Do you mean where I'm from? What I one day might become? What I do? What I've done? What I dream? Do you mean ... what you see or what I've seen? What I fear or what I dream? Do you mean who I love? Do you mean who I've lost? Who am I?

I guess who I am is exactly the same as who you are. Not better than, not less than. Because there is no one who has been or will ever be exactly the same as either you or me."



 

 

  • don't miss