I realize my blogging has been really sporadic lately. Taking care of five kids and getting ready for an impending vacation has kept me on my toes....please forgive this harried blogger as he plays catchup with the worlds events. Namely, recent news coming from the international stage concerning the freeing of the Malawian gay couple jailed for holding a same-sex engagement ceremony and the struggle of Russian gays to hold a pride march in the face of overwhelming hostility. Both of these stories make me think about how small our world is though we often think it big enough to shield us from the suffering of others. That is, until our bubble bursts and we realize we don't stand alone in the world and that all of us are struggling in our own ways. The fight to repeal DADT touches the fight for the basic right to exist for African gays which touches a similar struggle in Russia which also reverberates outward in a spidering network of rippling effects to others as well.
In Malawi: Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga Where arrested for holding a engagement ceremony. The Government of Malawi called it "a crime against their culture" and after much time in jail awaiting trial they were finally sentenced to 14 years in prison...separate prisons. You see, it wasn't enough to stop the "evil homosexuals" from commiting their perverted act of expressing love for one another, they also wanted to make sure they would not see each other during the prison term that they would most likely not have survived. All they wanted to do was express their intent to commitment to loving each other and instead faced the possibility of never seeing each other again.
When I read this I felt helpless. I believed that the authorities meant to separate these two for good and once in prison, they would be forgotten. A prison sentence can quite often be a way to pronounce the death penalty without coming right out and saying thats what it is. There was a time when that was true here in America too...a time not so long ago. People go in jail and "accidents" happen and gays and lesbians among other "undesirables" quietly dissappear. Thankfully that didn't happen this time.
International pressure and tons of internet coverage has led the government of Malawi to pardon Monjeza and Chimbalanga..(woot!). Even Madonna got involved. I couldn't believe it when I read it and I new it was the miracle these men would need if they were ever to see each other again. Now the next step is getting them out of the country, which... I read, they have a desire to do. Malawi will not be safe for them. Thankfully I hear that arrangments are rumored in the works to get them to safety.
Now...my retorical question: What about the rest of GLBT people in similar situations that will never make the news?
but moving on...
Writing about foreign news topics is always a subject of insecurity for me precisely because my life has been lived so long completely isolated from the experience of others in countries outside my own. After all, its hard to write about someone elses experiences and communicate the right message when you haven't walked a mile in his or her shoes or don't understand the cultural differences or history of a given people. But the point is to watch, to be aware and above all remember that the world is a much smaller place than we think it is. As what happens here in the struggle for gay rights eventually influences struggles elsewhere around the world and that, in some sense, we all walk the same path even if we are on different points along the way. We can know the experience as a whole...not simply as an American, African, or Russian experience.
Fortunately I have been blessed with being able to get out and see a little of the world. A little mind you...and most of it European. When I was young, I believed that I would nver be able to have that experience because my family couldn't afford it. I never even expected to be able to leave my home state. Fortunately, I was wrong.
When you get beyond the boundries of your country...or hell, even your state...you become conscious of having lived in a bubble....at least I did. I realized while watching the news in London on one such trip, just how much of the worlds comings and goings you never hear about on American news. The BBC showed news from Africa, India, Asia, It was amazing how much information about world events they reported on...in America, the biggest network news story was The latest American Idol winner. I realized then, how much happens that the average person...not watching internet news...doesn't get any exposure too at all. I felt positively sheltered and realized how isolated from the world we can be.
until next time dear readers....
*Update*...Per Edgewire: Two parades/protests were held in Moscow with no reported arrests or violence (woot again!)
from the edge:
Asked whether he felt a thaw in official attitudes toward gays, parade organizer Nikolai Alexeyev told The AP after the protests Saturday that there had been no change, and no detentions had been made because the activists had simply given the cops the slip.Russian authorities also claim that this in no way signals a growing tollerance to gays and lesbians but was simply "better military planning".......whatever..../eyeroll...