Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-06-08
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Chicagoans visit Dominican Republic as LGBT-rights advocates
by Gretchen Rachel Blickensderfer
2014-06-25

This article shared 4615 times since Wed Jun 25, 2014
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Tourists who visit Santa Domingo in the Dominican Republic can spend their time wandering around the Fortaleza Ozamao—the oldest military castle in the Americas or the equally magnificent Catedral Santa María de la Encarnacíon. They can enjoy spectacular ocean views from the luxurious Malecon Center skyscrapers, find an adventure in the Les Tres Ojos caverns, or travel a couple of miles out of the capital city to kick back with a cocktail on the white sand beaches of Boca Chica.

However, there is a shadowy side to the Dominican Republic—images not to be found in brochures advertising the historic and natural wonders of its capital city. There are decaying buildings with rusted metal rooftops set so close to each other that one can barely discern the ground beneath them. Also, there are places where running water and electricity are virtually non-existent, where the hopeless and their half-dressed children scrounge for food in piles of garbage or wander crude streets, simply trying to stay alive. Because they are of Haitian descent, they are not welcome in the country, with no access to education, jobs or even an identity.

Although homosexuality is not considered illegal, Catholic and evangelical leaders in the Dominican Republic foster continual hatred and disdain for the LGBTQ population. When former Chicagoan James "Wally" Brewster Jr. moved there with his husband to take up the post of U.S. ambassador last November, there was vociferous language from religious groups who encouraged the populous to wear black in protest of a perceived U.S. attempt to install same-sex marriage in the country. Meanwhile, LGBTQ people are marginalized, youth who come out are abused or live in fear of violence and the only work the trans*population can find is via the sex trade. The Trans* Murder Monitoring project has reported a dramatic increase in the murder of trans* people living in the country since 2008.

It is this part of the Dominican Republic that a group of Chicagoans traveled to see May 18 of this year. They came from all walks of life and yet were united under a common goal: to support grassroots, human-rights organizations and NGO's ( non-governmental organizations ) working in the Dominican Republic to ensure that the marginalized people there have a voice and claim a chance at life that many people in the United States take for granted.

Debra Shore is the Chicago Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District; Dr. Danny W. Cohen, Ph.D., is a professor at the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University; Jonathan 'Yoni' Pizer is a real estate developer; Jackie Kaplan-Perkins is a celebrated philanthropic leader, consultant and political activist; and Elena Grossman is a project manager working to build resilience against climate change. Openly gay and each a Global Justice Fellow with the American Jewish World Service ( AJWS ), they—along with the executive director of the newly created Chicago office of the AJWS, Taal Hasak-Lowy—talked with Windy City Times about their visit to the Dominican Republic and the people they encountered whose suffering and resilience are mirrored both historically and in LGBTQ communities in present day United States.

"After the holocaust, many people wondered how the world could be silent while these atrocities were happening," Hasak-Lowy explained. "The AJWS is the Jewish voice to ensure that we will not remain silent when injustices happen to other people. We work to help protect people's sexual health and rights, their civil and political rights and their access to natural resources."

In that capacity, the AJWS is often the first funder to more than 500 organizations in 17 different countries around the world. The representatives from Chicago who went to the Dominican Republic received warm hugs of welcome and an education from those considered by the Dominican Republican government to be the least of its people; the sex workers, the communities living in the Batey slums—faces and names the AJWS travelers will remember for the rest of their lives.

"It was interesting to be in the D.R., both as a Jew and a lesbian," Kaplan-Perkins said. "The statelessness experienced by Dominicans of Haitian descent was devastating. The people we met. The slums they lived in. Just to be there and makes you realize 'I am a citizen of the world.' You keep coming back to the [Hebrew] words 'Tikkun Olam'—how do I repair the world?"

"One of the most powerful pieces of this trip was making the connection between the fights for LGBT and immigration rights happening there and those happening here," Grossman added. "When something happens in a foreign land, it does affect us on some level."

Cohen has made the study of the holocaust a quintessential part of his life's work. He sees a direct line between Nazi persecution of homosexuals and the ongoing persecution of LGBTQ communities world-wide. "The way that homosexuals under Nazism were treated and perceived in the decades after the war effect how our community remembers itself, perceives itself and continues to struggle for basic rights in many parts of the world," he said. "There's a history of shame, hiding and silence."

"When we met with representatives of the LGBT rights organizations there, I told them I'm an elected official and openly gay," Shore said. "And—like Senator Tammy Baldwin and others have said— 'If we're not at the table, we're on the menu.' That resonated with them, and I think they will take that idea and be out and be in the political arena in some way."

"The trans* sex workers we met have been completely marginalized by society there and abused by the police and ignored by the government," Pizer noted. "Despite all of this, they keep fighting and doing what they need to do to get some respect. It was just so impressive to meet them and hear their stories."

"It seems as if trans* communities in the United States and in the Dominican Republic seem to be organizing and working in many of the same ways," Cohen added. "If we want to engage members of our community in international issues, we need to point out those similarities, so that we can see that we are all a part of the same worldwide movement."

Each of the AJWS representatives recalled names and images so powerful that—weeks after their Memorial Day return to the United States—they are still trying to process their feelings from a journey that has forever changed their lives and their perspectives.

"One of the kids in the Batey was a little girl named Jessica," Kaplan-Perkins recalled. "She was a survivor. She had this incredible smile and she wanted to be hugged and loved. Despite it all, there was something about her that was so hopeful, as if she was saying 'one day, I will get out of this.'"


This article shared 4615 times since Wed Jun 25, 2014
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

WORLD Vietnam's pro-LGBTQ+ move, Grindr kidnappings, Taiwan event 2022-08-14
Video below - Vietnam took a major step forward in the recognition of LGBTQ+ rights with the country's Ministry of Health stating that being gay, bisexual or transgender is not a disease and urging medical practitioners to end discrimination ...


Gay News

NATIONAL: Conn. candidate, trans study, D.C. attacks, Palm Springs Pride 2022-08-14
- LGBTQ Victory Fund-endorsed candidate Erick Russell won the Democratic primary election for Connecticut state treasurer, according to an organizational press release. With this victory, he is on track to become the first out Black LGBTQ+ person ...


Gay News

Cook County officials discuss MPV timelines 2022-08-12
- Members of the Cook County Health and Hospitals Committee gathered Aug. 8 to hear details from local health officials on the monkeypox virus' (MPV's) impact on both suburban Cook County and Chicago, and their planned responses. ...


Gay News

Big Cities Health Coalition holds monkeypox virus briefing 2022-08-11
- Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) held a virtual monkeypox virus briefing Aug. 10 fthat ocused on local public health activities in Chicago. Speakers included BCHC Executive Director Chrissie Juliano and BCHC member and Chicago Department of ...


Gay News

Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom names first queer woman to state supreme court 2022-08-11
- California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his intention to appoint Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kelli Evans to serve as an associate justice of the California Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created by Justice Guerrero's elevation ...


Gay News

Another queer candidate is part of Chicago mayoral race 2022-08-10
- In addition to incumbent Lori Lightfoot as well as Ald. Raymond Lopez and media figure DJ Doran, there is a new LGBTQ+ candidate in the race for Chicago mayor. According to their website, J Saxon "is ...


Gay News

Chicago Ald. Sophia King enters mayoral race 2022-08-10
- Chicago Ald. Sophia King (4th Ward) has officially entered the Chicago mayoral race. "I love this city. We need a Chicago that's safer AND stronger," King says in the video, according to NBC Chicago. "Let's put ...


Gay News

Drag show finally takes place at UpRising Bakery and Cafe 2022-08-08
- After a series of events that encompassed everything from vandalism to meetings with village officials to a visit from Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, LGBTQ+-owned Lake in the Hills business UpRising Bakery and Cafe finally held its ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Okla. schools, Tenn. lawsuit, political items, Mich. library 2022-08-07
Video below - Oklahoma public schools have started requiring students from kindergarten to college to complete "biological sex affidavits" if they want to compete in school sports, in accordance with a state law that took effect earlier this year, ...


Gay News

WORLD Zelensky, French position, UK drag-queen shows, triathlons 2022-08-07
- Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed he will ask Ukraine's government to look into legalizing same-sex marriage after the war with Russia ends, PinkNews reported. Ukraine's constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Last ...


Gay News

Uganda government forces LGBTQ+ group to shut down 2022-08-07
- An LGBTQI+-rights group in Uganda said the country's government forced it to shut down, according to The Washington Blade. Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), in a press release, said Uganda's National ...


Gay News

Pritzker visits UpRising Bakery and Cafe 2022-08-06
- On Aug. 5, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker met with Corrina Sac, owner of Lake in the Hills business UpRising Bakery and Café, as well as leaders from Equality Illinois and Woodstock Pride and Illinois state Rep. ...


Gay News

POLITICS Milwaukee gets RNC in '24; Chicago among DNC hopefuls 2022-08-06
- Milwaukee will host the 2024 Republican National Convention (RNC). According to Politico, RNC committee chair Ronna McDaniel tweeted, "I am excited to announce that the RNC has voted unanimously to select Milwaukee as the host city ...


Gay News

Indiana Gov. Holcomb signs bill banning most abortions 2022-08-06
- Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has signed a bill that would ban most abortions—making it the first state to pass a restrictive law against the procedure since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade earlier this ...


Gay News

CDPH, community partners provide monkeypox update as Market Days nears 2022-08-05
- With the event known as Northalsted Market Days happening Aug. 6-7—and with tens of thousands of people expected to attend—the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and community partners held a press conference Aug. 4 about ...


 



Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 

Sponsor


Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.