Toronto, Ontario – Egale Canada and the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention (Black CAP) held a joint fundraising event called Unified Voices: Celebrating Black, African, Caribbean Leadership on June 17th, 2008.
This fundraising event recognized leading voices in the fight against homophobia/transphobia and HIV/AIDS in Canada’s Black, African and Caribbean communities. The evening will highlight the work of two leaders in this fight: Gareth Henry, the International Grand Marshal of Pride 2008, and Zanele Muholi, a leading South African activist.
Gareth Henry is the Co-Chair and Program Manager of J-FLAG , the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays, and a recipient of both the 2006 Human Rights Watch Award and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network Award. He took over the reins of J-FLAG from Brian Williamson when the latter was murdered and mutilated as a result of a homophobic attack in 2004. Gareth’s leadership in Jamaica coupled with his status as the 2008 International Grand Marshal allow him to highlight the oppression in his home country while stressing the need for Canadians to rally against homophobia not only abroad but in communities across the country.
Zanele Muholi, born in Umlazi, Durban, is an emerging, yet already internationally recognized photographer and activist. She’s the co-founder of the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW), a black lesbian organization based in Johannesburg. Her work represents the black female body in frank yet intimate ways and challenges the portrayal of black women’s bodies in documentary photography. Zanele’s solo exhibition Only half the picture, which showed at Capetown South Africa’s Michael Stevenson Gallery in March 2006, has travelled to the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg and the Afrovibes Festival in Amsterdam.
She is the recipient of both the 2005 Tollman Award for the Visual Arts and the first BHP Billiton/Wits University Visual Arts Fellowship in 2006. Zanele has recently moved to Toronto to pursue her Master of Fine Arts degree in Documentary Media at Ryerson University.
Unified Voices also included performances by legendary drag impersonator Michelle Ross, who, as 30-year veteran of the profession, has been a pioneer for black drag artists in Toronto. Music by DJ Jamal rounded out the evening.
Black CAP (http://www.black-cap.com/) is an organization that works to reduce HIV/AIDS in Toronto’s Black, African, and Caribbean communities to enhance the quality of life of Black people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. The agency is a non-profit, volunteer-driven, community service organization that gives support to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and raises awareness of the impact of HIV/AIDS and STIs in Toronto.
Egale Canada advances equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-identified people and their families across Canada. Egale also hosts Stop Murder Music (Canada), which advocates against anti-gay lyrics targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-identified communities.