I have taken roots in development work but Gay Rights is the grey area in my map of experience but not in my life. I grew up with gay friends left and right and it was never an issue with me, my family and friends who I mingle with or live within the neighborhood. Though I have to say that my childhood and where I grew up are never comparable to others who are in a difficult situation especially those trying to contest the norms dictated by their society and tradition — like being gay means going against it and meting imprisonment and worst death.
I have a lot to learn.
But that is talking about the world as a whole, what about the ones that promote, advocate equality and respect to human rights — the NGO community?
This article I’m an aid worker… and I’m gay will give you perspective on what happens within the “NGO community”. Though I cannot confirm nor deny what was told by the writer, all I can do is empathize with what they felt when in a difficult or confusing situation especially when they think they have so much to lose – career, freedom, love and life.
It brought me back to my experience way back when. The time when my former organization recruited a director who brought his partner with him in the country. Everybody was ready to meet him and eager to meet his family — kids running around the office or wife and children in organization event. Most of the people were in for the surprise of their life — he came with a male partner and there were no children to accompany them.
It didn’t sit well with the locals but because he was able to bring him in the country means that the headquarter in Europe allowed it so nobody could do anything. Was I bothered? Not at all. I was even curious to see them together — that was how naïve I was, I never saw gay couples before in my life back then. They are both good looking and they look good together.
Beyond his being gay, he was a good director — his work ethics and excellent management style overshadowed a cultural taboo and he was loved until he left. A different experience from the writer of the article and with both experiences, we should have better understanding of the issues and like we always say — change should begin at home (meaning the headquarters).
Since that time I started to be conscious of what I read about the subject of gay and lesbian and how the progress (or regress) much like other issues in the development world.
I form my own opinion.
Stories of oppression for the gay and lesbian community was told because many still hide behind culture, tradition and ignorance.