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3 February, 2010

Is Carnival season…six tips for safety

Filed under: carnival,HIV,laws,online dating,TTAVP,violence — caiso @ 13:17

images courtesy Bohemia

Happy Carnival, family! Is winin season. Have real fun. But please do so safely. In blockin, in sexin, in drinkin, in drivin, in travellin, in leavin de party, in playin yuhself in public.

Welcome, too, to our foreign visitors. We’re proud of T&T’s reputation as the GLBT capital of the English-speaking Caribbean, where there’s no mob violence, little police harassment, a whole lot of social spaces, especially at Carnival, and certain people can walk down certain streets certain times in certain ways and not get bashed. But laws against homosexual sex are still on the books here (up to 25 years in jail, an HIV test, and listing in the sexual offender registry), even if they’re not usually used. And just like any other small place, public authorities and most police aren’t sympathetic to gay issues, individual attitudes vary, and you might be in trouble if you act “inappropriately”. So when you’re in public, pretend you’re in an ethnic or working class neighbourhood in your city; and listen to the natives.

Special warning: Over the past couple years an unacceptable number of us have found ourselves robbed, sometimes filmed in sexual poses, in some instances raped, and in a few cases killed by guys we met online, through A4A. These attacks were in people’s own homes as well as in strangers’ places, and not all were instant hookups. A few attacks have also happened as people left gay clubs. And Carnival is always a season of opportunity.

Unprotected – and unexpected – sex also happen quite a lot every Carnival. So make some plans. Guys: the chances the person you have sex with will be HIV+ are as high as 1 in 5; and he may not even know himself. You’ll find free condoms in most parties and events this season, but not necessarily lube and usually not dams. So walk with your stuff.

Here are six simple tips we hope you’ll remember throughout this season:

  • Talk about safety with each otherthink about safety for yourself
  • When you’re thirsty, sip
  • Start on the outside
  • Always tell somebody
  • If you get hurt, get help
  • Look out for each other

1. Talk about safety with each other. Think about safety for yourself. When you dress up, when you do up, when you do stuff, when you go out. Keep your friends safe. Just talk about it. Make safety a part of how you do Carnival.

2. When yuh tusty…Sip! When yuh real tusty is when you’s make de wuss decisions. So when yuh know yuh tusty, try an sip!

3. Start on the outside. If you are going to meet somebody you met online for the first time, consider doing so in a public place you are familiar with, where there are other people. Don’t agree to have them come to your residence, and don’t go to meet them somewhere strange. You can always decide to go somewhere else once things check out.

4. Always tell somebody. Make it a habit. Point out who you are leaving the party or the band with. Ask who knows them. Text somebody where you’re going. Text the licence plate. Call somebody to say you reached. Text to say you got back safely. Tell whoever you are going off with or you are going to meet that you have people who know who they are and where you are. Even if it’s not true. If they think you have nobody or that you’re ashamed to let anyone know, you become the best victim. If you really can’t tell anybody, make files: write the information down, text yourself.

5. If you become a victim, get help. Get medical care. If you’ve been raped, don’t hide it from the doctor. Ask for “PEP” (drugs that if administered quickly can prevent you from becoming HIV+). Talk and scream and cry about it with somebody you trust. Don’t suffer alone. Call the Carnival Safety Line at 857-7676 if you need to talk, you don’t know where to go for care, or if you’ve been mistreated by a service provider. We can’t answer 24/7, but we can call you back, we’ve helped other people, and we want to prevent people from getting hurt.

6. Look out for each other. Don’t abandon your friends. Encourage them to be responsible. But help them reach home safe when they don’t.

If you want to read more about ways to be safe, or suggest some: click here.

CAISO 2010: putting you at the centre

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21 July, 2009

Talk about safety with your friends!! Think about safety for yourself!!

Filed under: community organizing,online dating,TTAVP,violence — caiso @ 08:30
It seems like there’s been yet another gay date murder in Trinidad & Tobago. These dating safety guidelines, brought to you by the Trinidad & Tobago AntiViolence Project, are distilled from international groups’ and one focus group conducted locally. They aren’t perfect or complete (we’ve been trying to raise money to do so), and not all of them will make sense for everyone, but they’re a start.

Reports are going around about people in Trinidad & Tobago who have been taken advantage of by men they met online, including on popular sites like edis the no A4A. These stories involve people like us being murdered, carjacked, beaten, robbed, forced to have sex, filmed, and threatened with blackmail. Some of the attackers seem to be repeat offenders, and virtually none of the victims so far have been willing to report the crimes to the police, so many of the perpetrators are still active and on the site. Additionally, there have been reports of other serious crimes, including assault, robbery, rape and kidnapping, that happened to people outside clubs we go to.

“I don’t have a car. I travel. I met a lot of hot guys online. I largely avoid trouble through having rules that I always follow. My biggest rule is I stay my ass home and you know what when I am feeling real desperate or bazodie, because I found myself doing some really stupid things. I’m concerned about these crimes, though, and thinking about other things I can do to be safer.”

We are Anand and Harvey. One of us (we won’t say which) has been pretty successful with online hookups. One of us has been victimised. We can’t make choices for each other, or for you. But, as friends, we try to help each other make good choices, as a way of taking care of each other. Like us, you should talk about dating safety with people you care about.

“I’m not so lucky. I don’t take risks easily and I pulled out of more than one situation when the guy wasn’t flexible, or he was bigger, or he was different than he said. Still, I got robbed by a guy who was really nice and looked trustworthy enough for me to get in his car. I was afraid to walk in a police station and report it, but I did call 800-TIPS.”

Here are some tips both of us think you should consider to make things safer when you go looking for fun or fun finds you. Later, we’ll suggest some helpful steps to take if you or someone you know is victimised. Being victimised doesn’t only happen to stupid or careless people, but you will be at greater risk if you don’t take precautions.

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29 June, 2009

Lyrics to make a politician cringe

GROUPS LABEL GAYS’ EXCLUSION FROM NATIONAL GENDER POLICY “1919” THINKING: LAUNCH NEW COALITION WITH 20/20 VISION OF CITIZENSHIP & SEXUAL ORIENTATION

Gender Minister Marlene McDonald’s comments about government policy and sexual orientation last week, and their timing days before the local GLBT community begins its fifteenth annual celebration of Gay Pride, have motivated gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens of Trinidad & Tobago and their organizations to come together to form a new advocacy coalition. The Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO) aims to educate public decisionmakers about modern understandings of sexual orientation and gender identity, and to help the public embrace the full humanity of Trinidad & Tobago citizens of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. At last Thursday’s press briefing following the acceptance of the new National Gender Policy and Action Plan by Cabinet, Min. McDonald told the media: “We are not dealing with any issues related to…same-sex unions, homosexuality or sexual orientation.”

“The Minister’s statement was, sadly, sadly 1919,” said David DK Soomarie. “Saying you ‘are not dealing’ with your own citizens is the kind of power-drunk thinking that we expect from unaccountable governments in places like Iran and Zimbabwe, not here in Trinidad & Tobago. Our vision is to build Trinidad & Tobago into a developed nation in its treatment of sexual orientation and gender identity. GLBT people are fully human, fully citizens. We’re taxpayers. And our country will never achieve developed nation status when our Government leaders can stand up boldly and declare that they intend to leave out and treat as second-class whole groups of citizens.” Soomarie is a leader of 4Change, one of the coalition’s member groups that is named after section 4 (Recognition and Declaration of Rights and Freedoms) of the Trinidad & Tobago Constitution. 4Change formed in 2007 inspired by the successful lawsuit by maxi driver Kennty Mitchell after his humiliation by police officers for being gay.

                                      a "1919" vision of sexual orientation:                                      backwards, out of touch with reality, elitist

Gender Minister Marlene Mc Donald: a "1919" vision of sexual orientation—backwards, out of touch with reality, elitist

CAISO’s plans include: a website, monthly meetings, fundraising at home and abroad, educational activities with public and religious officials, and collaboration with local and international research, advocacy and human rights groups. The group also pledged to support efforts to provide affirming opportunities for GLBT people to practise their faiths.

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