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October 6, 2006
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Volume 34
Issue 40
 
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ARC International: Out in the world
ARC International: Out in the world
by Joyce Ericson - ARC International's Seattle Coordinator



We know October 11 is National Coming Out Day. Do we know that it is also International Coming Out Day?

But we are not out in the world. Most LGBT people are not out in Africa, Asia, South America, Central America, Eastern Europe, the Caribbean and parts of North America. In most countries, the cost of coming out is too dear.

Out in the world, Fannyann Eddy, Lesbian activist in Sierra Leone was stabbed to death working late in her office. Her neck was broken and she was raped. Just six months before she spoke to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

"We live in fear," she said.

Out in the world, HIV/AIDS worker, Brian Williamson, was stabbed to death in his Jamaican home. While he lay in his home, in his blood, a crowd gathered outside, chanting, "Let's gets them all, one at a time."

Out in the world? International activists can tell you& they live in fear.

At the UN, there has never been a resolution to protect Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people, despite the fact that LGBT people are hunted down and murdered in many countries, along with state sanctioned imprisonment, beatings, mob violence, rape, you name it.

We all know this. We know it happens here in the US as well, although not as obviously and not as often.

What we let happen in the world, affects us at home. It affects our attitudes as individuals, our behavior, our local politics, our politics as a nation.

John Fisher knows this. He also knows LGBT people should not live in fear, no matter where they are born, no matter where they live.

Four years ago, John Fisher and Kim Vance founded ARC (Allied Rainbow Communities) International. Previously, John was the founding executive director of Egale, Canada's national Gay rights organization, and Kim was Egale's president. In founding ARC, their vision was to create a coalition of Gay activists from all over the world, to recognize the needs of these activists and support them on their home ground, to create international Gay rights strategy and to lobby the UN, in a united voice that could not be ignored.

Four years ago, there was a sudden shift at the UN. A "stonewall" of sorts occurred. Gay and Lesbian activists converged on a session of the UNCHR to support a resolution put forth by Brazil to protect Gay people. The resolution failed, but the activists just won't go away.

Now they meet annually at ARC's Dialogue, the first in Brazil, the second in Geneva, the third in South Korea, in 2006, in Montreal before the Outgames, and next year in South Africa. At the Dialogue, activists learn about funding resources, they hear how to access international systems and procedures, they discuss strategy and how to implement it, and much more.

They plan to return again and again and again to the UN until the human rights of Gays are recognized and protected.

Four years ago, ARC created a listserv. Now activists no longer work in isolation. There are daily postings of atrocities and triumphs, incidents and information, calls for comfort, congratulations and support.

Among ARC's accomplishments is the facilitation of meetings between the High Commissioner for Human Rights and international Gay activists. And last year, John uprooted his home, moving from Ottawa to Geneva. The first full-time LGBT lobbyist at the United Nations Human Rights Council. He is a very busy man.

Despite his busy schedule, John is coming to Seattle. He will speak at the GSBA luncheon on October 11 at the Shilshole Bay Beach Club. For reservations: www.thegsba.org.

And on October 12, ARC is hosting their first dine-out-event, SAVOR THE WORLD. Fifteen fabulous restaurants in Seattle will donate a portion of their profits to support Gay activists worldwide.

As individuals, LGBT people fear to be out in the world for good reason, but brave activists from everywhere are OUT IN THE WORLD and refuse to be ignored.

Support this incredible movement by eating at one of the restaurants listed at www.arc-seattle.org on Thursday, October 12 (and at Arnaldo's show at Thumpers on October 13.)

We have an International Coming Out Day. But let's not forget how seriously scary this is for our brothers and sisters abroad.

International Readers
We want to learn about you and have you tell us about Gay Life where you live.
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