Aphrodite's P.R.I.D.E Jamaica's latest project (phase 1) wrapped on Sunday March 30 following a year and a month of planning and engaging some forty five persons over the period via a personal development project dubbed Seismic which incorporated an Enterprise/Small business informational component. The APJ was conceptualised in February 2010 initially to engage same gender loving women (including transgender) on social, religious and personal development issues however at the launch of the Seismic it was clear there was a need for some gay, bisexual, asexual and other persons as well in the outreach activity as more issues presented themselves.
The timing could not have been more opportune as the closing ceremony took place on the eve of International Transgender Visibility Day bearing in mind we are grateful to have had three of Jamaica's most prominent and visible faces participate and facilitate sessions in that regard.
Earlier in the year APJ, February 14th to be precise marked their or I should say our fourth anniversary, as Outreach/Crisis Intervention rep it has been challenging to some extent with the issues on the ground an ever present concern as they scream for attention while hostilities linger and increase towards LGBT Jamaicans overall. Psycho-Social development within the local LGBT community is an area which has yet to be adequately explored and addressed by non state actors or state agencies. As such we hope to enable major improvements in the process by focusing on the needs of our LGBT Youth and hetero-allies, through our third major undertaking, our SEISMIC! Project.
Prevailing cultural norms have limited service provision for LGBTQI people, operating in a narrow space focused on HIV/AIDS and, to a limited extent, advocacy. Prevailing hostilities towards LGBTQI people means that youth who identify as such are either excluded or exclude themselves from social agencies which develop personal and interpersonal skills. This in turn impacts on their capacity to successfully navigate school, work and entrepreneurship and compounds their vulnerability to abuse, economic disenfranchisement and displacement.
SEISMIC! Is a social engagement program which provides Psycho-social and Enterprise Development skills training services for LGBTQI youth ages 18 - 31. Through interactive workshops, seminars, field trips, and the creation of an online community and presence, we hope to positively continue to influence the lives of Youth, some from highly vulnerable circumstances within the LGBTQI community, particularly those whom have been isolated, marginalized, discriminated against, victimized, and silenced by the restrictions of society’s gender norms and socialization.
SEISMIC! works with clients to support their development primarily in two ways:
Through SEISMIC! We are assisting them to better understand what they can do improve their quality of life in a supportive environment. By the end of the project which will be on March 30, 2014, we covered areas such as Self Esteem, Gender Identity/Gender Expression, Self management, Effective Communication, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Female sexual health issues, Mental health, Work place skills and the all important module Enterprise development thanks to funding from the Foreign Commonwealth Office, FCO.
As a follow up process we also hope to be able to expose the participants to international events such as the Asia Pacific OutGames which is a sporting & cultural event which will consist of LGBTQI representatives from different countries around the world and an advanced (stage 2) of the program for the previous participants as well as commencement of a new round with new persons carefully selected by the team with specific measurement tools.