( 12-07-13 ) The Christmas holidays are a special time of giving, and in the true spirit of this holiday season award winning singer-songwriter-activist Nhojj has launched a campaign to build a LGBT Center in Guyana. As a vehicle for this campaign Nhojj is using GoFundMe, an easy way for people to donate online.
He urges friends, fans, those concerned with LGBT rights, and all socially conscious people to donate to this cause. Donations are tax deductible and will go to the Astraea Foundation, the only philanthropic organization working exclusively to advance LGBTQI human rights across the globe. Astraea will then send the funds to Guyana's SASOD ( Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination ).
Why Guyana? Why a LGBT Center?
Nhojj grew up in Guyana. He started singing in church there. As a little boy in Guyana he experienced both the protective wing of his parent's love and the hateful sting of bullies' homophobic slurs. Although name calling is mild in comparison to experiences of other LGBT kids, they were enough to cause him to feel shame about being gay and Nhojj believes no one should feel shame about who they are.
In Guyana there is no legal protection for LGBT people. SASOD is a group based in Guyana which is committed to eradicating discrimination based on the grounds of sexual orientation. It came into existence in 2003 with the campaign to include sexual orientation as one of the fundamental rights in the Guyana constitution, and has since been working to promote the rights of LGBT people.
In June of this year Nhojj returned to Guyana to give a free concert celebrating the 10 year anniversary of SASOD. "I felt a deep sense of pride in what this small organization has managed to accomplish in spite of all the insurmountable odds," Nhojj wrote in his Huffington Post article "LGBT Warriors in the Caribbean." During his visit Nhojj participated in a panel discussion with the Head of the Roman Catholic Church in Guyana - Bishop Francis Alleyne, who reaffirmed the Church's commitment to ensuring the repeal of Guyana's discriminatory laws.
"Any organization that can bring the Catholic Church and the LGBT community together, and get radio hosts excited about LGBT rights has my support," Nhojj says.
In the days and weeks that followed Nhojj felt the need to express his support in a concrete way. At first he was unsure what to do, but then he recalled a conversation he had with SASOD Founder and Co-Chairperson Joel Simpson about their desire to build an LGBT Center. It occurred to him that he could sponsor a fundraiser - that a LGBT community Center in Guyana could become a reality. The projected costs of building in the capital city of Georgetown are $500,000. Nhojj wants to raise $15,000 during the month of December and reminds everyone to give what they can because every dollar will help.
"I am a homosexual man," Nhojj explains. "It used to be a difficult thing for me to admit, but it's easy now. I talk about it. I sing about it. I embrace it. It is who I am, and it is good. We must all reject the lies that tell us that straight is good, and any other orientation is bad. These lies do damage to our souls - gay and straight alike. They keep us separate when we long to be together."
"A LGBT Center in Guyana will give those of the Guyanese population who are not heterosexual a safe place to gather. It will give our brothers and sisters a space to be who they are, to embrace who they are, and hopefully dislodge the lies we've been unwittingly told all our lives."
"When one person is stronger, we are all stronger," Nhojj explains, "that is why I am passionate about this fundraiser to help build a LGBT Center in Guyana."
For more on this campaign and how to donate go to http://www.gofundme.com/guyana-sasod-lgbt-center
Read Huffington Post Article www.huffingtonpost.com/nhojj/lgbt-warriors-in-the-caribbean_b_3640851.html .
For more on Astraea go to www.astraeafoundation.org/ .
For more on SASOD go to www.sasod.org .gy/ .
For more on Nhojj go to www.nhojj.com/ .