Authenticity in Diversity
The diverse tapestry of Namibia’s LGBTI communities are this week being celebrated in the capital city, through an advocacy campaign that is themed ‘#WeAreOne’. Initially planned for later in the year, a recent homophobic attack against a community member, is seeing Namibians from all backgrounds, rallying together to take a stand for our ‘one-ness’.
Through a series of planned events, advocacy and education, the ‘#WeAreOne’ campaign is seeking to explore the lived experience of LGBTI people in Namibia, as well as “emphasise humanity above sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.”
“A time where we can join hands to counter homophobia, racism and class differences by celebrating our diversity as a nation”
According to Friedel Dauseb, Director for Out-Right Namibia, “This will be a time to celebrate, to curiously get to know one another as brothers, sisters, cousins, mothers and friends. A time where we can join hands to counter homophobia, racism and class differences by celebrating our diversity as a nation and urging bigots and ignorant folk that we have a bigger fight to overcome, poverty and economic independence and together as one nation we can overcome these challenges. As in the struggle for Independence and against the horrors of apartheid – An injury to one, is an injury to All.”
When asked how this week came about, Friedel explains, “Several weeks ago, one of our members came to the office with some close friends as supporters decrying the fact that in an Independent Namibia, governed by the rule of law and a civic code of tolerance to diversity and human rights, our member had been attacked at a popular restaurant in Eros. Being a socialite par excellence and with a very amicable personality, the friends rallied around her to denounce homophobic violence and to demand justice for our member. The idea, which was initially planned for November or December as 36 Days of Activism, was moved forward around the theme of same spaces. The motto for this week of advocacy, is incidentally ‘We are one’ to celebrate our diversity and the fact that we are integral parts of our communities, families and the nation at large. The tagline ‘One Namibia, One Nation’ attests to this thinking.”
Funded by the European Union, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa and Comic Relief, and led by Out-Right Namibia, together with LifeLine/ChildLine and Positive Vibes Trust, the campaign kicked off yesterday and will run throughout the week ending in a parade, a market and a lip-syncing battle at the Warehouse Theatre in Windhoek.
“We hope that Namibians will rally around the spirit of our beautiful constitution which upholds the human rights of every Namibian citizen despite the superficial differences such as skin colour, the sex of the person we love, our gender or our class and wealth.”
A variety of sharing and collaborative events are scheduled for the week, some of which include, hosting a workshop for LGBTI youth entitled “This is Me”, that focuses on personal growth, self-discovery and self-care; a comedy show to be held on Friday the 28th of July at the Warehouse Theatre with critically acclaimed South African Drag Queen, Lilly Slaptsilli, and a “Bond Fire” where community members are being encouraged to bond through the sharing of their personal stories, while preparing for the parade that is scheduled for Saturday the 29th of July.
With funds raised going towards Out-Right Namibia’s establishment of a safe house for vulnerable members of the community, the weeklong event is encouraging compassion and a space for all members of society.
On Saturday, marching for unity, inclusivity and acceptance, Namibians will be walking Independence Avenue together in a sea of colour, diversity and authenticity.
When asked how they hope the public will respond to this cry for togetherness in our community, Friedel notes “We hope that Namibians will rally around the spirit of our beautiful constitution which upholds the human rights of every Namibian citizen despite the superficial differences such as skin colour, the sex of the person we love, our gender or our class and wealth. We also hope that those who do not understand sexual orientation, gender identity and the diverse expressions of these, will come and ask all questions that they may have. This will be a safe space to speak to activists and LGBT people openly in a spirit of celebrating the diversity in our communities. We also hope that our leaders in traditional, religious and political sectors take note of the willingness of LGBT communities all over Namibia to participate in national development initiative as equal partners to our heterosexual counterparts.”
For more information on the #WeAreOne Advocacy Week, click here
Or contact Out-Right Namibia at +26461237329
Written by Kirsty Watermeyer