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Author: Dorian Coleman

Dorian Coleman is an author, researcher, and educator with a background in cultural anthropology and special education. Her work focuses on exploring the intricacies of intersectionality in the human experience. She enjoys bringing research to life through storytelling and has a genuine interest in learning more about people from all walks of life.

Contributions

IVAN DIMOV- SINGLE STEP, BULGARIA

Ivan Dimov, founder, and chairman of Single Step Bulgaria, bore witness to a powerful story that changed his life forever. “Six years ago, I was back in Bulgaria on vacation. I was at an event and met this kid who shared with me that he tried to commit suicide after coming out to his mom.”

 

 

 

 

LILLY DRAGOEVA – BILITIS FOUNDATION, BULGARIA

Lilly Dragoeva is the Executive Director of Bilitis Foundation, the oldest active LGBTI organization in Bulgaria.  Her work experience includes diverse leadership roles, social analysis, and research, and over 15 years of volunteer work. Her own personal experiences as a bisexual woman inspired her to champion causes in social justice for LGBTI people in Bulgaria.

 

 

 

 

ARBËR KODRA – OPEN MIND SPECTRUM ALBANIA (OMSA)

Arbër Kodra, executive director of Open Mind Spectrum Albania (OMSA), is a well-known activist across Albania and worldwide. As a leader of one of the oldest LGBTI organizations in his country, he has dedicated much of his life to preserving and expanding human rights to all people.

 

 

 

 

MASEN DAVIS – TRANSGENDER EUROPE

Masen Davis is a world-renowned leader in LGBTQ and human rights. He has led countless initiatives for LGBTQ rights in North America, Europe, and Central Asia. Currently, he is the Executive Director of Transgender Europe, a network of Transgender organizations across Europe and Central Asia. Masen has spent much of his life involved in activism and advocating for LGBTQ people.


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ARBËR KODRA – OPEN MIND SPECTRUM ALBANIA (OMSA)

Arbër Kodra, executive director of Open Mind Spectrum Albania (OMSA), is a well-known activist across Albania and worldwide. As a leader of one of the oldest LGBTI organizations in his country, he has dedicated much of his life to preserving and expanding human rights to all people.

By Dorian Coleman

Arbër surprised himself by becoming an activist. “I would have never thought I would become an activist,” he said with a smile. His path to activism began at the end of 2008, while he struggled to accept himself and struggled to accept he was gay. One cold day in December, his boyfriend invited him to participate in an activity to raise awareness of HIV. Initially, Arbër did not want to go for fear of violence or verbal threats.  

After some time, he found the courage to participate in the awareness project. “I changed my mind to change my reality,” he said. He joined his boyfriend together with a small group of people to put posters in the main streets of Tirana after midnight. The adrenaline left him invigorated. This event was a catalyst, and from here, Arbër became inspired and energized to do work in support of LGBTI people in his country. “I am a voice for those who don’t have one.”

Arbër founded the organization, Open Mind Spectrum Albania (OMSA), to promote and preserve the human rights and freedoms of all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, social class, physical disability, or ethnicity.  Much of the work of this organization focuses on the needs of LGBTI people in Albania. 

OMSA supports the intersectionality and diversity of the human experience through social and economic empowerment, civic engagement, art, research, and political campaigns.  It also provides services in health, education, and legal assistance and increases the political participation of LGBTI people in Albania through advocacy, education, and activism.

Two areas of concentration in the work of OMSA are political education and family education.

OMSA has been critical at creating political awareness in Albania through educational activities for vulnerable members of society. “One of our greatest works is working with the government to open a broader dialogue about human rights to all people,” states Arbër.

In 2010, the Albanian government established The Law on Protection from Discrimination. Arbër explained, “This law is for everyone, but it protects us directly from discrimination, hate speech, and violence of all kinds.” The law addresses several forms of discrimination, including sexual harassment, structural discrimination, and segregation, among others.

Additionally, in 2015 the Albanian Parliament approved the Resolution: On Protection of Rights and Freedoms of persons belonging to the LGBTI community in Albania. This resolution included a National Action Plan regarding measures of protection, legislative recommendations for amendments to the labor code, and the education of rights of LGBTI people in Albania through the Ministry of Health and Social Protection. This decision was monumental and historic in terms of public awareness and human rights.

Although great progress has been made towards quelling discrimination of LGBTI people as individuals, protections have not yet been fully established for same-sex couples when building families. There is no legal recognition of civil unions and of same-sex marriages, and same-sex couples cannot adopt stepchildren. Although struggles still exist for LGBTI people in building families of their own, encouraging acceptance and unconditional love within the families in which LGBTI are born is of utmost importance.

“The love of the family is so important,” Arbër said. He emphasized how the process of coming out is difficult and important and he reflected on how the support of his family was pivotal in his own life. “Family education is invaluable because of the multidimensionality of the LGBTI experience.”

Arbër reflected on how much he appreciated his own family.  “My parents are pioneers, they are my heroes and they made history. I am very lucky to have my parents, who are very supportive. They’ve always accepted me. It was me that struggled to accept myself. In 2018, my mom and dad received a very important award as the most supportive parents in Albania, from the LGBTI Shelter, and they deserve it.

They are symbols of unconditional love. They taught me to love unconditionally, to accept one another for who we are, and not to be sad that people see you differently. Being different, that’s our power!”

In Albania, LGBTI people can face social pressures from self, family, communities, institutions, and society. The social pressure could lead to rejection or denial. Coming out can have consequences, such as career destruction, social rejection, or even death. This makes it even more important to spread awareness.

One way OMSA promotes awareness is through connections with its partners. “We partner with government institutions, political parties, public health institutions, universities, and the international community,” states Arbër. “It’s important in terms of intersectionality. It’s not only important for me to work for my community because I’m gay; it’s also important to support and work for other human rights causes.”

Support locally and internationally is vital to the existence of OMSA, and donations keep OMSA operational. Arbër states, “Donations are essential. Of course, like many small organizations, we struggle. Donations help us fulfill our mission and bring the change we want to see.” Donations to OMSA can be made here.

Arbër and other activists in Albania are working continually to ensure that LGBTI people are aware of their rights and the support services available to them. Donations and awareness are critical towards improving social, economic, and political conditions for LGBTI people in all facets of Albanian society.  As Arbër states, “This is survival for us.”

 


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Author: Savita Sukul

Savita has a Masters in International Communications and a Bachelors in Communication Arts with a minor in business. She has worked in the television industry, cosmetic industry, and for a non-profit organization. Her main interest lies in the television/film industry as she has attended acting school and worked in the communications department at Discovery Inc. That being said, she loves to interview artists especially those who use their creativity to participate in activism. Savita believes that can inspire people to find art in life and the ability to change the world with their work.

Contributions

MOHAMED ALI (DALI) AGUERBI – DOCUMENTARIAN, MALTA

Mohamed Ali (Dali) Aguerbi created the documentary, ‘Rainbow Bridge’, about LGBTI migrants. He is an activist who is also working for a non-profit in Malta, MGRM.

 

 

 

 

 

ELI RIGATUSO – TWO SPIRIT OF THE MENOMINEE NATION

Eli Rigatuso is a queer transmasculine Two Spirit of the Menominee Nation, video producer and director who advocates for inclusive spaces for the LGBTQIA2S+ community.

 

 

 

 

 

PETER MURIMI – DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER, KENYA

Peter Murimi is a producer and documentary filmmaker whose work is often featured on the BBC. His film, “I am Samuel” follows a queer Kenyan man navigating his identity while struggling with familial and cultural pressures.

 

 

 

KEVIN MWACHIRO: AUTHOR-PODCASTER-JOURNALIST, KENYA

Kevin Mwachiro is a man of many talents. He is a published author, podcaster, film festival curator, and former journalist. However, his true passion lies in telling Kenyan stories, specifically queer stories. In our conversation, he shares his experience and love for storytelling in his community.

 

 

 

CRACEY FERNANDES AND CANDACIE MCEWAN – GUYANA TRANS UNITED

Cracey Fernandes and Candacie McEwan advocate for education on transgender people in Guyana through the organization, Guyana Trans United. “We believe strongly in changing hearts and minds,” said Candacie. In this article, they speak about the challenges transgender people face in Guyana and their continuous efforts to empower transgender people and improve their quality of life.

 


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Author: Alexandra Kuenning

Alexandra (Xandie) Kuenning (she/her/hers) is a graduate of Northeastern University with a Bachelor’s in International Affairs and is currently pursuing an International Master’s degree in Central and East European, Russian and Eurasian Studies. In her work with non-profit organizations, she has concentrated on Eurasian affairs, with a specific focus on the emergence of LGBTI rights and organizations.

 


Contributions

ISAAC BLAKE — ROMANI CULTURAL & ARTS COMPANY, WALES

Isaac Blake is the founder and executive director of the Romani Cultural & Arts Company based in Cardiff, Wales. A proud gay Romani Gypsy, he organized the United Kingdom’s first international LGBTQ+ Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller conference in 2019, followed by the first ever Gypsy, Roma and Traveller LGBTQ+ Spoken History Archive, which launched early this year. In this profile, he discusses what it means to be an LGBTQ+ Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller; the impact the Archive has had within the community; and what to expect from future LGBTQ+ symposiums.

 

PREDRAG AZDEJKOVIC – OPTIMIST MAGAZINE, SERBIA

Founded in 2011, Optimist is a bi-monthly publication in Belgrade, Serbia that aims to provide positive visibility and awareness of the LGBTI community. I spoke with founder Predrag Azdejkovic to learn more about how the magazine came to be and what it means for the LGBTI community in Serbia.

 

 

 

 

EGOR TERYANNIKOV AND RUSLAN SAVOLAINEN — QUEERFEST, RUSSIA

This year, St. Petersburg will host the 13th edition of QueerFest, a cultural festival that raises issues of human rights, identities, gender, and sexuality. I spoke with Egor Teryannikov and Ruslan Savolainen — two members of the organizing committee — about the history of this festival, the impact it has had in Russia, and what we can expect to see in this year’s edition.

 

 

 

ALLA CHIKINDA — RESOURCE CENTER FOR LGBT, RUSSIA

Alla Chikinda is the PR and Communications Manager at the Resource Center for LGBT [people] in Yekaterinburg, Russia, an organization with the mission to create a respecting, friendly, and accepting environment for the LGBTI community by implementing social and legal programs and services aimed at overcoming discrimination, stereotypes, prejudices, and stigmatization on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Here, she discusses the variances of what it means to be LGBTI in Russia and how the Center helped organize the region’s first Pride week.

 

 

Daniyar Sabitov & Anatoly Chernoussov, Kazakhstan

Launched in 2017, Kok.team was the first LGBTI mass media in Kazakhstan and the first website to publish LGBTI content in the Kazakh language. I spoke with the two co-founders, Anatoly Chernoussov and Daniyar Sabitov, to discuss what inspired them to create Kok.team and the impact this project has had on the portrayal of LGBTI topics in Kazakhstan’s media.

 

 

 

Herman Gaibe — T9 NSK, Russia

Herman Gaibe is the project manager of T9 NSK, an initiative in Novosibirsk, Russia that aims to increase the acceptance of transgender people in society and, eventually, to create a network of transgender activist groups in different regions of Russia. In this profile, he discusses what LGBTI activism looks like in Russia and how T9 NSK works on the ground to effect change.  Читать по русски

 

 

David Tasevski — Subversive Front, North Macedonia

David Tasevski is the Executive Director of Subversive Front, an association for sexual and gender minorities based in North Macedonia. In this interview, he discusses the importance of mental health within the LGBTI community and how Subversive Front is working to develop evidence-based policies, programs, and services that support the self-identified needs of LGBTI people.

 

 

Lilit Martirosyan – RighT Side: Human Rights Defender, Armenia

Lilit Martirosyan is Armenia’s first registered transgender woman, the first transgender person to speak out against LGBTI discrimination in Armenia’s National Assembly, and the founder of Armenia’s first and only NGO for trans people and sex workers — RighT Side. Here she discusses her activism and what the reality is on the ground for LGBTI people in Armenia.

 

 

 

Thomas Roughan and Zsuzsanna Zsuro — Queer Budapest

Over two days in November 2020, attendees of the Queer Budapest Exhibition were able to explore contemporary queer culture in Budapest through the lens of a curated selection of artists currently operating in Hungary. I spoke with the exhibition’s two curators, Thomas Roughan and Zsuzsanna Zsuro, to discuss the formation of the exhibition and how it has since grown into a permanent platform supporting and promoting the work of queer Hungarian creatives.

 

 

Ali Bousselmi — Mawjoudin, Tunisia

Ali Bousselmi is the co-founder and executive director of Mawjoudin, meaning “We Exist,” a Tunisian-based NGO that works towards achieving equality for the LGBTI community and other marginalized groups and individuals. In this interview, he discusses the wide-ranging activities Mawjoudin supports, including counseling services, a guide for LGBTI asylum seekers, and the Mawjoudin Queer Film Festival. 

 


ADDED ON: 03/29/2021

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The High Court has ruled that a “loving parent” can consent to a child taking puberty blockers, in part reversing last year’s decision in the Keira Bell case. On 1 December, 2020,…

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As Poland’s Church embraces politics, Catholics depart

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ADDED ON: 10/20/2020

Global HIV response found to neglect gay and bisexual men, trans women

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ADDED ON: 09/29/2020

Transgender People Still Criminalized in 13 UN Member States, Report Finds

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SEA Change

Share Your Business Acumen and Be Part of Social Change

The SEA Change Initiative is looking for volunteers just like you to form part of our pro bono business network: the “Buisbono network.” This will be a consulting and matching service pairing nonprofit organizations in the Caribbean with mentors in the US who can commit to giving 15 days of their time on a pro bono consultancy basis to create social impact in the Caribbean. This support can be over a 1 month to 3 month period if you can commit to giving at least 15 days of your time.

Alturi and the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) leverage the unique strengths of corporations, social and civil sector organizations, and individuals to enhance the abilities of people and communities to solve complex problems and generate income for social change. By focusing on Social Enterprise Acceleration (SEA), Alturi and the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition will work with the corporate sector to help them deliver on their employee engagement and social impact objectives while assisting nonprofit organizations to become more sustainable through social enterprise initiatives. The first online meeting to establish the Buisbono network will take place on Thursday, July 16.

 

Professional Application and Profile on Buisbono 

A detailed application will help us determine if you have the mindset, skills, and experience we are looking for to support nonprofit organizations in the Caribbean. Following a formal offer to join us, we help you to fill out a Professional Profile, and along with your CV and ongoing conversations we get a clear idea about your skills, strengths, and interests and use this information in the matching process.

 

Social Impact

We will then reach out to our nonprofit partners, who are setting up a social enterprise (Incubator plan) or consolidating an existing initiative (Accelerator Plan) to find out where there is a need for your skills.

We work with our nonprofit partners to explore their core business challenges and from that we produce their top two assignments for the duration of the program. You’ll then be matched with a client based on the assignment type, their need, and the skills and experience you offer.

 

Project Types

  • Brand Strategy
  • Business Management
  • Business Plan Development
  • Business Planning
  • Business Strategy
  • Communications
  • Content Creation
  • Customer Journey Mapping
  • Customer Relationship Management
  • Digital Transformation
  • e-Commerce
  • Film Production
  • Fundraising
  • Graphic Design
  • Impact Reporting
  • Marketing and Branding
  • Monitoring & Evaluation
  • Performance Management
  • Product Design
  • Process
  • Project Management
  • PR
  • Risk Analysis and Auditing
  • Salesforce
  • Strategy Planning
  • Sales
  • UX Design
  • Web Design & Development

 

Who you’ll Work With?

Once enrolled as a buisbono expert you will be matched with a nonprofit organization interested in setting up or consolidating a social enterprise, social business, or ethical business that is making a social impact in their community.

The nonprofit you are matched with could be at different stages with their venture, from start-up, through consolidating and scaling up the impact of an existing social enterprise. Whether it’s a non-profit that wants to generate more revenue for a new project, a social business that would like to increase sales, or a social enterprise looking to get social investment ready, you’ll be given an assignment that suits your skills and experience.

 

What’s in it for You?

As a pro bono business expert you will have the option of working remotely or on-site with your assigned nonprofit. You will also be able to participate in SEA Change Initiative’s social enterprise networking events or virtual workshops, and social impact talks. As a buisbono expert you will get to share your knowledge and skills with nonprofits while also gaining much in return. You will work closely with inspiring organizations in interesting locations in the Caribbean, on dynamic social enterprise initiatives designed to help nonprofits cover their core operating costs. The CVC/Mossier SEA Change Initiative will support your learning ahead of your program start date with interesting and informative readings, articles, and presentations which lead to your increased knowledge and understanding of social entrepreneurship, startup methods, and consulting.

 

Who are we Looking For?

Buisbono recruits:

  • Have a minimum of 5 years’ work experience in a professional field in marketing, sales, operations, or finance.
  • Are looking to give back while also learning from nonprofits working on social change.
  • Want to make a positive difference that will help the community.
  • Are passionate about entrepreneurship as a force for change and want to share their specialist business skills to improve people’s lives.

How will this work?

  • You can determine your time commitment within a specific 1 month to 3-month period.
  • You can work remotely and on a set number of days per month.
  • You can work on the design and scope of your assignment to meet client requirements during the consultancy planning phase.
  • A 2-week wrap-up phase is included for pro bono experts to write up and submit a brief consultancy report and present their work to the assigned nonprofit and make recommendations on the consultant they would need next.

 

SEA CHANGE: be part of something big to change the world as we know it!