Nov 20, 2014

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Article by Jasmin Duffill & Gaby Gauci

Today, the 20th of November, is a day we set aside to honour part of our rainbow family. The International Transgender Day of Remembrance serves to honour all those who have suffered as a result of anti-trans* hate crimes and prejudice.

This year, 268 transgender individuals have been murdered worldwide, with 14 of the victims aged 18 and under. [source] This number is shocking, but unfortunately is likely to be an underestimation, as many deaths may be reported under incorrect pronouns, and others may not be reported at all.
The attempted suicide rate among transgender individuals is also alarmingly high. One study found that in America 46% of trans men and 41% of trans women will have attempted suicide at least once in their adult lives. This is 10 times higher than the rate found in the overall US adult population. [source]

Today we remember, honour, and mourn for all those who have lost their lives just for being themselves. Today we keep in mind the unique challenges faced by trans* members of our communities. Today we pledge to fight for the right of our brothers and sisters to live happy and healthy lives without fear of violence and prejudice.

We Are invites you to join us in this pledge by respecting transgender individuals both in your peer group and in the media. If you would like more information about the services provided in Malta, or would like to know how you can do your part for the trans* community please send us an email at info@weare.org.mt or send us a message on our Facebook page.

If you or someone you know needs help in dealing with their gender identity, call the National Gay Helpline, run by MGRM, on +356 21430006 / +356 99255559.

*Trans is an umbrella term that refers to all of the identities within the gender identity spectrum. [source]

Oct 21, 2014

Support Kyrgyz Activists

Kyrgyzstan is pushing forward a bill that is deemed to be even harsher than Russia's. The proposed bill provides criminal penalty (up to 1 year of imprisoning) for "formation of a positive attitude towards non-traditional forms of sexual relations" and it does not only impact LGBTIQ communities but will limit all citizens in their human rights of speech, expression, assembly and peaceful meetings and access to information.

The LGBTQIA group in Krygyzstan, Labrys, started among other things an online campaign to gain support worldwide and put pressure on their parliamentarians. They want people to make signs with slogans or use their ready made ones, take a photo with the sign and then share in on social media using the hash-tag ‪#‎supportLGBTkg‬ 

We have also made a sign which you can use.







More information on the campaign can be found here:http://www.labrys.kg/en/media/gallery/full/11.html

This is very important, as with more pressure and the more the parliament know it is being watched, the more the chances that it will not be passed.

Sep 9, 2014

2014 AGM and elections to the board

Dear members,
Our Annual General Meeting and elections, is taking place tomorrow evening, at 18:00 in Floriana, (https://www.facebook.com/events/1456407411296068/). The deadline for sending nominations to the board was yesterday at noon, and we would like to announce that an election to elect board members for the next year will take place during the AGM.
There are 8 nominees, for 7 available positions. (In alphabetical order:)
David Debono
Jasmin Duffil
Iggy Fenech
Marthese Formosa
Gaby Gauci
Jean Marc Pace Ricci
Emma Portelli Bonnici
Matthew Vella

All members are encouraged to attend and vote for the new board.

Those members who are unable to attend tomorrow's AGM will be able to vote by proxy provided that they send an email to vp@weare.org.mt  by 5pm Wednesday 10th September 2014.  The email must contain the name and ID card number of the person who is being granted the proxy.  Said person must also be CC'ed in the email and acknowledge acceptance of the proxy.  Any person may hold no more than one other person's proxy.  For the sake of establishing whether or not a quorum has been reached persons holding a proxy will be counted both in their personal capacity and in that of the proxy which they hold.

If you have any queries and to receive a copy of the proposed amendments and of last year's meeting minutes, please e-mail  secgen@weare.org.mt 

Aug 28, 2014

We Are announces 2014 AGM!

28th August 2014 - We Are – LGBTQQI Youth and Student Organisation will be holding its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Wednesday the 10th of September at 6pm at the KNŻ office in Floriana.

 

The past year has been very eventful for the youth organisation, highlighted by direct involvement in the drafting of the Civil Unions Bill, affording same-sex couples the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts, through their participation in the LGBTI Consultative Council.  We Are also organised a successful campaign against homophobia, and took part in a number of activities on and off campus.

We Are organises community events and sets up safe spaces for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer & Trans youth and students.  At the same time the organisation also focuses on raising awareness, holding educational activities, and representing its members.

Included on the agenda for the AGM will be the election of a new executive board as well as the approval of any proposed amendments to the current statute. Any other proposals for inclusion to the agenda should be suggested by sending an email to the Emma Portelli at secgen@weare.org.mt by no later than noon on Monday 8thSeptember 2014.

All members are encouraged to attend the AGM. Any nominations for election to the new executive must be sent to secgen@weare.org.mt by no later than noon on Monday the 8thof September 2014. The e-mail should include the full name and ID number of both the person nominating and the person being nominated.

For more information on our AGM please check the event here:https://www.facebook.com/events/1456407411296068/

KNŻ’s office is at 50, Triq l-Iljun, Floriana, FRN 1513, Malta and a map can be found here:www.knz.org.mt/index.php.contact_us

Aug 14, 2014

YouFest: Of celebrations, & diversity!

by Mina Tolu

Just a little bit less than four years ago my twin-sister, Lulu, approached me and asked me to join her and some friends and strangers in forming an LGBT student organisation. At first I was quite wary of this request, as I hadn't yet come out to many people, but joined her, and our friend Gaby at this first meeting on campus in November 2010.

I'll admit we had no idea what we were doing, fast-forward 3 years and a bit, and we're here. We've managed to learn, grow and change lives. We have office-space at the University, we receive funding, we organise events, we attend conferences, we make our voices as LGBTQ youth heard, we are on the LGBTI consultative council to the government, we have fun, we meet people... the list goes on.

We launched our first online crowd-funding event 'YouFest' last spring, and thanks to the support of Ruth Baldacchino, Sagar, Helen Wallbank, Patrick Wallbank, Bernardette Vassallo, Marilde Gauci, Lulu, Bledvar Albekell, Chris Brown, Maya Muscat Azzopadi, Jean Marc Pace, Mina, Marthese Formosa, Jay Williams, Rebecca Theuma, Abygail Martina Tonna, Brenda Cutajar, Rebecca Schembri, Hillary Briffa, & Sean Bamber we managed to raise enough money to host a post-pride event! Unfortunately for a number of reasons we were unable to host the event immediately post-pride, however we will be celebrating this years' advances and 3-and-a-bit years of awesomeness at a Beach Picnic next week!

We'd love for everyone who has supported We Are in the past, and everyone who wants to get to know us, to join us on the 20th August in Sliema. We will have some unplugged music, some home-made food and goodies, and a few surprises!

So sign up here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/11owpzbIwL0l64i8VighCYtCCXXMlA1x6adr_KhcyUc4/viewform?usp=send_form and let us know you're coming to celebrate with us!






Aug 2, 2014

Cult Film Review: Break My Fall (2011)

Where Mina Tolu & Mel McElhatton pick out a movie they each haven’t watched, which automatically narrows it down to certain cult movies, and try to throw a review together. For our first attempt at joint-review we limited ourselves to a ‘lesbian’ movie, and chose Break my Fall.


Break My Fall (2011), is written, directed and produced by the same person - Kanchi Wichmann - this is basically a one woman show so I'm not expecting anything too great. The intro makes me think of a stalker, looking out for smiles and eye contact and applying meaning to them that may or may not actually exist… we’ll see.




First impression: this film revolves around an angsty, melodramatic teenage-looking androgynous girl who can’t get over the fact that her ex, or maybe just someone she has a crush on, has her eyes on someone else. The dark, pouring London rain just seems to exaggerate this a bit more. As mentioned earlier I am not expecting anything too great. In retrospect, I [Mina], was right about some parts of that sentence, but not all.


The main character, Liza, is bugging me already, she seems really weak. Maybe that’s the point. She complains about not finding anything in the apartment she shares with her girlfriend Sally, but is the one who breaks their laptop.

There is a cliche’ smelling of the hoody, and the characters have no chemistry between them. A block of blue cheese would have more chemistry with a goat when compared to these two. But all the problems I have with it so far are within the story, not the mise-en-scene which is pretty much interesting, and consistent.

After a while I felt that sleeping was more important than this film… Mina only lasted 35 minutes.


There is constant blurring in and out… not sure if it’s their camera or my eyes.
Wow the dialogue is boring, and frankly, really fake. The only good point is the British accents, because hello. Otherwise I (Mel) would have stopped this ‘film’ a long time ago too.


One hour in…. hmm I wonder what there is on Facebook. Haha another cat video!


The camera is hand-held and it shows. The picture keeps jumping from side to side making it impossible to keep focus, and honestly it’s giving me a headache. I need a drink.


Ah that’s better. Did I miss enough? Nope, still a lot of brooding and shouting.


So I take it that the two main girls are in a band...and yet the music in the background is severely lacking.


Androgynous Lisa is really quite needy. Sally has an ‘ex’, get over it. Oh Lisa is sure Sally doesn’t love her anymore, proper response: fight / wrestle. Why not.


Dear woman who directed, wrote and produced the film (couldn’t be bothered to know your name, sorry), where is the backstory? There are around 2 to 3 references to this other girl (Tina) but we know pretty much nothing about her, even though she’s obviously a catalyst in all this.


Mel: the most interesting question to come out of this movie: is it Liza or Lisa.. Sally’s tattoo says Liza but the credits say Lisa. So many questions…


In the end I only had two thoughts, one which was good and one which was bad. The good thought was : yay they actually mentioned bisexuality in a good way and corrected the butch lesbian.
Bad thought - I just wasted over an hour and a half of my life...and it feels so much longer.
Mina: I wasted 30 minutes of my life, but glad I was spared an hour of similar monotony by my gut instinct!





What is the film we just reviewed you ask?

We’re not entirely sure ourselves. Mina chose to skip to the end and see whether or not the middle 50 minutes make a difference or not to the plot. Meh. Seriously, you can watch the first 20 minutes and the last 20 minutes and you’ll have all the info you need. As mentioned earlier, the mise-en-scene of the film is its only redeeming feature, but not redeeming enough to keep Mina interested, and to keep her watching it.


In case you think we’re exaggerating, here are some additional reviews:

Rotten Tomatoes: 25% “Ultimately let down by an irritating lead character, some dodgy acting, a frustrating, frequently dull plot and an unconvincing finale.” - Matthew Turner


The Guardian : 2/5 "At best she (Kanchi Wichmann) creates a heartfelt, occasionally touching, study of four friends living in each others' pockets." - Cath Clarke


Afterellen's review sounds most positive: "It’s the most honest, raw, lovingly crafted film of its kind to show up this year, and powerful enough to knock even the most stalwart viewer out of any sense of complacency." - Danielle Reandeau


Mel: if this is the most honest/raw/loving of 2011 then I don’t have high hopes for the rest of that year.


To summarise, this movie is a definite must-watch...during exams, ‘cause it will make you want to switch off your screen and pick up that book right away.


We dare you to watch it and to love it. Or at least like it. That’s going to be hard enough.

Jul 12, 2014

Pride 2014: Speech


Just in case you've missed it, here is the speech Mina gave at Pride last night, on behalf of We Are.
The last two slogans for pride in Malta have led to this year's; Family - Where love matters more. Two years ago the slogan was I AM, a positive affirmation of our individual identities. Last year's was Love is Love, a statement which demanded equal rights. Back then we had only just started to think that this would finally become a reality. In those marches, pride was all about demanding rights, demanding equality and being recognised for who we are.  
In only one year there has already been so much progress, our right to love has been legally recognised through the introduction of the Civil Unions Bill in April. This year pride has become a celebration, a celebration that recognises different forms of families, and it's awesome! 
Although we've already come so far there is much left to be done. Such as the introduction of the Gender Identity Act, and further education in order to raise awareness, and to reduce homophobic and transphobic bullying in both our society and in our schools. 
I sincerely hope that we manage to carry on this wave of positive energy and realise that together, as organisations, straight allies, and LGBT individuals, we can really affect change.  
Happy pride everyone!

Mina gives a speech on behalf of We Are at Pride 2014 in Valletta. (Photo: MGRM)


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Check out more footage of this year's Pride march in Valletta here:


Jul 11, 2014

We Are & KSU : Let's celebrate love!


Kunsill Studenti Universitarji (KSU) and WE ARE's joint Press Release, as Malta celebrates Pride today: Let's Celebrate Love!

At University over the past four years We Are and KSU have strived to create a campus that is more diverse, more multicultural, and more sensitive, to LGBTI issues.

This week Malta is celebrating love and equality with the yearly Pride March, in Valletta.
Although this year's theme is Family, as all other Pride marches, it should nonetheless serve as a reminder of the importance of non-formal and formal education structures in forming a more diverse and multi-cultural society for the next generations to grow up in.

As student organisations we have strived to inspire the student body to work toward, but more importantly discuss and debate issues, like homophobia and transphobia, which affect the student body. We believe that every student is valuable regardless of gender, age, sexuality or ethnicity.

Following the passing of the Civil Union Bill in Maltese parliament last April we are happy to see that our country is one step closer to these goals of unity. 

So let's celebrate love and together make sure that no one is discriminated for who they are.

We Are & KSU at Pride in 2013

May 18, 2014

'Protecting SOGI asylum-seekers & refugees'

Two of our members; Mel McElhatton and Marthese Formosa attended 'Protecting SOGI asylum-seekers & refugees' - aditus foundation event for the International Day Against Homophobia. Here is Marthese's feedback about the event, and some photo from Mel:

The event organized by ADITUS was a true experience. There was a mixture of the national situation and international experience. The area, that is linking asylum seekers with the LGBTQI or SGN (sexual and gender non-conforming) field, is something that interests me personally as I would like to work more on them. There was a brief summary of the Maltese events this week, which I found really helpful. There were talks on changes in the laws and important laws for workers in the two fields by ECRE and ILGA-Europe and although I didn't understand everything, they were really important. My favourite session by far war however, the two hour one one: How can I prove that I am gay? Examining the barriers & hurdles faced by the LGBTI refugee" which was very interesting and provided a lot of case studies.
The speaker managed to hold my attention for the most part, which wasn't easy with my short attention span and two hours to fill. It was interesting seeing the various cases and seeing how judges think and rulings passed. It was very informative overall.





5 Candidates for the European Parliament Elections Take a Stand against Homophobia

MEDIA RELEASE
15TH MAY 2014

5 Candidates for the European Parliament Elections Take a Stand against Homophobia
We Are and Betapsi organized a 3 daylong event at the University of Malta to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia(IDAHOT). The aim of the event was to raise awareness about homophobia and transphobia, and encourage people to take a clear stand against them. We believe that these sorts of events are important because, as revealed in a 2013 survey by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 97% of Maltese youth have felt the need to selectively hide their LGBT identity at school. In Europe, young LGBT people are also more likely to be threatened and be victims of violence. 

As part of the activities candidates for the forthcoming elections were invited to attend, and take a clear stand against homophobia and transphobia.Arnold CassolaMiriam DalliRoberta MetsolaMarlene Mizzi, and Jonathan Shaw visited campus to take a stand. It was encouraging to see candidates from 3 different political parties attend; as it highlights the fact that tackling discrimination and standing for fundamental rights is something we can all work towards in a collaborative manner. These candidates have all signed ILGA-Europe’s Come Out Pledge, which means that they have pledged to stand up for human rights and equality in Europe.





IGLYO’s Co-Chair Patrick Dempsey also attended the event. He said “It’s fantastic to see Maltese MEP candidates making a very clear commitment to LGBTQ rights in Malta and in Europe. I hope that this collaboration with We Are and the candidates will encourage greater efforts in ensuring the voices of LGBTQ youth are heard and initiatives like the LGBT Roadmap are supported.

BetaPsi’s President Petra Borg said “it was great to collaborate with We Are for this event. As psychology students, we feel that we should create an inclusive environment in which the LGBT community can feel at home”.

We Are’s President Mina Tolu said “collaboration is key to our work, as we can only promote the value of diversity by working together with others, both in Malta and internationally. Political leadership is also crucial for securing fundamental rights for all, and the support from candidates of the 3 main political parties is valued.”

Luisa Tolu

Awareness and Education Officer

We Are LGBTQQI Youth & Student Organisation 

May 7, 2014

Jiena Nħobb, Inti Tħobb?

A personal point of view by Kri Cassar.



As the play Jiena Nħobb, Inti Tħobb? hits Maltese theatre again at the end of the 
month, we thought we’d share Kri’s personal point of view on the show. This article 
first appeared on Creative Culture last February: http://creativeculture.co/index.php/
component/content/article/341 and is reposted here with their permission. 


Jiena Nħobb, Inti Tħobb? is a Maltese production that was on at the Manoel Theatre in Valletta  
this February and shall feature in May once again. It boasts a Maltese script and talks of 
homosexual affairs in society; For me the title questions the idioms of love and the presence of 
love in a gay family.

Jiena Nħobb, Inti Tħobb? is a play that has struck a chord of innovation in the Maltese 
entertainment sector. With its semi-vulgar Manglish words, scenes of nudity and the ultimately 
tabooed issue of sex – let alone gay sex, IVF for homosexual couples and love triangles between gay and straight members of the cast being discussed and blatantly depicted for a theatre packed with viewers regardless of their sexual orientation. A play that due to its intense popularity, possibly brought about through curiosity and ‘bad marketing’ will be back on show in May 2014; due to this, I do not intend to promote any spoilers for those who have not seen the play as yet. 

The play featured a number of Maltese television starts like Ray Calleja and Clare Aguis who took to the stage and allowed the viewers to completely enter their lives as the characters that they were attempting to portray. Ray Calleja was representing the protagonist of the play Pierre who took on what he felt to be his duty in providing IVF to two of his friends who were a gay couple. He sought out two surrogates and helped the two men in building up a family that they were so desperate for. Clare Aguis aka Emily was the typical anti-gay Maltese mother who does her best to protect her children and stir them away from the fires of Hell with her gay = sin campaigning, little does she know of her family secret and the later love triangle that she finds herself in.

(Clare Aguis - Picture credit )



Written by Simon Bartolo in colloquial Maltese where English jargon was often moulded into the script – making the play ‘real’ and truly adapted to the ways in which the Maltese freely express themselves. Crude humour was a plenty and the audience loved it. The reactions evoked by the viewers were of shock and resulted in giggles and gasps as the curious few at times also slowly turned their heads, eyes wide open and jaws dropped as though to say, “Are they serious?” or more often that not; “Dawn bis-serjeta`?” – I’m not quite sure if it was to egg on the cast or in sheer rigidity.

A few of the shockers came in the form of nudity where the first scene showed the main 
character, Pierre interviewing a woman who was posing as a surrogate for the gay couple. The 
actress was quite willing to take off her bra and expose herself to the Manoel. Gutsy and bold but not so avant-garde; she definitely deserves a well done for her confidence and courage but we are kind of immune to a woman’s bare chest with the media promoting female nudity so often. A bolder and more drastic display of nudity – one that brought about more of an ‘ooh’ factor was Davide Tucci’s full-frontal. Devon’s moment to shine was in his climbing out of bed with another (just as naked) man was an added bonus for the majority who were itching for change and a leap towards a local atmosphere that is no longer stricken by taboos that we fear to laugh, joke, stare or be intrigued by.



 A few others seemed as though their comfort zone had been pushed well over its limit, a number of seats also being vacated after the intermission. Topics of cheating, back-stabbing, closet cases, IVF, the breaking of families, homophobia, social violence, hate crime and everyday matters that often torment the average gay man (or woman – but not so much depicted in this play) due to Malta’s ever present ties with the Catholic Church were brought about.

This play was cleverly put together as it touched upon most; if not all; of the factors in life that entertain us. The cast humoured us with its language and jokes, made us interested with the sexual content and innuendos, moved us with the sensitivity of younger actors, made our blood boil (at least mine) with the depiction of sheer ignorance in homophobia and brought us to tears with an unexpected event during the play – I’ll keep my promise of no spoilers; you won’t see it coming.

Overall, I would think that the play was a superb rendition of life with its inculcation of emotions 
in general. Its stand for a minority group was present but it did not dominate the play. It wasn’t as MANY referred to it a ‘gay play’ but rather a socio-cultural play that did not, as many local plays do, exclude homosexuality. Mr Director, next time we’d like some girl-on-girl action though. The confused chick that goes back to men isn’t always the norm for lesbian relationships. Tres,tres lacking there! But hey, if this is the start of a local theatre revolution which deals with real life issues and doesn’t hold back, we’re in for some drama.

 Also, don't forget to check out their Facebook event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/248822165284374/

Apr 28, 2014

5 reasons to join WE ARE!

5 reasons to join We Are!


The board of We Are is calling for the co-option of a new board member following the resignation of a current board member. If you would like to join the board you can email info@weare.org.mt with your nomination (and the name of a person seconding the nomination) by noon on Monday 5th May. But first, here are our 5 top reasons to join We Are!



1. You can contribute to changing Malta and improve people’s lives

Gaby, Mina & Emma at the Human Library at Giovanni Curmi Higher Secondary School
Whether you’re volunteering at the Rainbow Support Service, pushing students’ boundaries with a treasure hunt, or representing youth on the LGBTI consultative council (which drafted the civil unions bill) you’ll be helping to make Malta a better place for LGBT+ youth and everyone else too! Now is the best time for it too, as more and more people are seeking services of support, and sources of information. Being part of an organisation like We Are has never been more exhilarating!


2. You can learn new skills, and put old ones to use

No experience is required to join the board of We Are. This means you get the chance to try something you’ve never tried before, or to improve skills you already have. You can get to plan events, apply for funding, write speeches and press releases, create visual content, and more. You could even hone your public speaking skills by participating in debates, and television interviews, or attend training to learn how to facilitate educational sessions on human rights and diversity.

Media & communications related skills.

3. You get to meet and work with amazing people

You meet students from other organisations, who are passionate about improving life on campus, and collaborate with local activists, academics, teachers, and social workers who are giving their all to change Malta. 
They’re people who are inspiring, and have great ideas, and whose passion is infectious!
We Are at a demonstration against homophobia in Hamrun with MGRM, aditus, Drachma, and other NGOs & activists.


4. You can travel and take part in international LGBTQ activism

As a member of We Are you get to travel to other European countries for conferences and workshops on activism, human rights, non-formal education, and more. You also get to contribute to IGLYO’s great work by having the opportunity to represent We Are at IGLYO’s general assembly.
We Are attended ILGA Worlds Conference in Sweden in 2012

5. It’s fun!

Emma and Ruth at the Civil Union celebrations!