Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Work Gets in the Way but Rights of Passage Moves On

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The last six weeks Ed has been busy directing the Bay Area premiere of Alan Bennett’s Tony Award winning The History Boys Since his return from the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, Robert has been busy catching up with things at the Global Health Fellows Project Despite the daily distractions of gainful employment, we’ve been hard at work behind the scenes monitoring several LGBT human rights stories around the globe and seeking funding for the Rights of Passage project.

Ed conducted a phone interview with Ben Han whose recent feature in the San Francisco Chronicle alerted us to Bejing’s “gay life in the shadows”. Continuing to monitor turmoil at Camp Sister Spirit as this safe haven LGBT non-profit struggles for survival in the deep south. Also of great interest is Robert’s contact with a young gay former Peace Corps volunteer, Jeremiah Johnson, who has been sharing his experiences with LGBT human rights progress in the Ukraine. The New York Times just reported the story of Pape Mbaye from Dakar, Senegal who has escaped persecution in West Africa and been granted asylum in the US – we are on the trail.

We will visit Muskegon, MI to visit Ed’s sister this month and catch a glimpse of small town gay life on the blue collar shores of Lake Michigan. Pending funds and travel synchronicity, an early December sojourn to either the Middle East or Central Europe is being planned.
Further, on the money front we have two major grant requests pending, One with the Phyliss C. Wattis Foundation and the other with former Ambassador James Hormel’s private philanthropy endeavor The Small Change Foundation. Both requests are for multi-year support to fund our research, script development and ultimately production of the premiere at The New Conservatory Theatre Center in 2010.

Heartfelt thanks to Rights of Passage individual donors: Norm Abramson, David Beery, Douglass Christensen, Hanna Decker, Fritz Neumann, Scott and Julie Jacoby, William Moss, Debra Mosk, Carl & Suzanne Nelson, Debra Shapiro, Beth & Lisa Soloway, Leonie Walker and Vincent Zappacosta.

More money news. This time about the Rights of Passage project raising cash to support the work of others engaged in the LGBT Human Rights struggle. This past summer the New Conservatory Theatre Center hosted three benefit cabaret evenings and raised $2000 which was divided among the International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission Camp Sister Spirit and the Human Rights Watch Special thanks to all the performers involved.

I think that catches us up for now. As ever, we welcome your thoughts, personal experience submissions, and links to others as we continue our Rights of Passage journey together.

Photo: Policemen watch participants at an ecumenical service at an Anglican Church during the first Gay Pride in Riga, Latvia, while anti-gay demonstrators threaten them, July 23 © 2005 Reuters Limited.

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