Helem’s Health Outreach Unit is focused on sexual and reproductive health awareness campaigns for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexual and queer communities in Lebanon. By organizing activities, outreach campaigns and events across Beirut, the Health Outreach Unit’s goal is to make sexual health information available to everyone, so that people can make informed decisions about their sexual health.
The Health Outreach Unit is also currently working on creating a Guide for Best Practices to be distributed to hospitals and clinics with the objective of alleviating discrimination and stigmatization against LGBTIQ and HIV-positive individuals in health care institutions.
Another initiative by the Health Outreach Unit is to focus on lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and queer women’s health by organizing a series of workshops and publishing information for distribution to the general public.
Break out your Depp hair gel, crimp those bangs, pull on some fishnets and get ready to do the robot to the most synthesized ’80s beats you’ve heard this side of the new millenium. Bring your friends, lovers and fleeting acquaintances and let’s trash dance to tunes by DJs Shax and Ghassan in a celebration of sexual health.
تركز وحدة التوعية الصحية في جمعية حلم على نشر الوعي حول الصحة الجنسية والإنجابية للمثليين والمثليات، المزدوجين والمزدوجات، المتحولين المتحولات جنسياً، وأحرار الجنس في لبنان، من خلال تنظيم أنشطة وحملات في بيروت. وتهدف وحدة التوعية الصحية الى جعل المعلومات متاحة للجميع، بحيث يتمكن الأفراد من اتخاذ قرارات مستنيرة بشأن صحتهم الجنسية.
تعمل وحدة التوعية الصحية حالياً على إنشاء دليل لأفضل الممارسات لتوزيعها على المستشفيات والعيادات وذلك بهدف التخفيف من وطأة التمييز والوصم ضد الم.م.م.م.م.م. والأفراد المصابين بفيروس نقص المناعة البشرية في مؤسسات الرعاية الصحية.
مبادرة أخرى لوحدة التوعية الصحية وهي التركيز على صحة النساء المثليات، والمزدوجات، والمتحولات جنسياً وأحرار الجنس، من خلال تنظيم سلسلة من ورش العمل ونشر معلومات لتوزيعها على الجمهور.
استعدوا لأداء رقصة الرجل الآلي على أنغام الثمانينات يلعبها شاكس وغسان. أدعوا اصدقاءكم وعشاقكم وتعالوا نحتفل معاً بصحتنا الجنسية.
Governments around the world aim at controlling their citizen’s behaviour, finances, and freedom of thought/speech/and expression. They infiltrate the inner works of institutions, systems, and even initiatives in order to oppress the sound and freedom of the peoples. They cripple the backs of the working class and reward the rich without holding themselves accountable for the devastation that is poverty. The strategies that are used by governmental figures are not used in order to sustain or assist the people, but rather in order to create an illusion of perfection while exploiting those who are unable to fight back. What this system fails to recognize is that if the same people they are oppressing are given empowerment then they will eventually fight back and bring this tactic of systematic oppression down. There is no such thing as a ‘government’ per say, but rather a mafia of elected people who govern the state as they please.
What the people do not realize is that governmental propaganda is not just projected on the television screen or the daily newspapers, but is also methodically and subliminally engraved into our minds by institutions such as schools, universities, hospitals, libraries, and many others. These subliminal messages are the reason for illnesses such as racism, sexism, bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, and the concept that everything should fit a certain status-quo. As Foucault said, “(Institutions) can both exert power and act as instruments of power”. Institutions have the capacity to establish the relationships of power and to effect individuals within themselves.
Everything that is part of our daily lives is part of a mainstream and heteronormative ideology that is promoted and maintained in an attempt to silence anyone who dares to step out of the titanium box that is created for us ever since we were born. Well we are stepping out. Are you on the train? Or waiting at the station?
Exploitation is an easy weapon used by many corporations, fraternities, societies, governments, and institutions to control the masses. If I were to use Lebanon as an example I could say that the tool of exploitation was running rampant around the country. The corporate virus has reached social level and has hit epidemic status. Let’s zoom in a little closer shall we?
Let’s examine the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) community for a second. In Lebanon, people within the LGBTQ community are not accepted into society. Seeing as society in general tends to be exclusively ‘hetero-normative’ then we must keep in mind that in a country like Lebanon, there are very few places that people in this community can publicly (and privately, but that’s a story for another time) hang out. These are the places that I have a specific problem with. These so called ‘gay-friendly’ places that exist in our society add to a segregation, abuse, and myth/misconception within/of/and about the gay community.
These four ideas can be interlinked with one simple word: money. Due to the fact that ‘gay-friendly’ places in Lebanon are the main locations for LGBTQ members to frequent, these ‘corporations’ (if I may be so bold) take advantage of this fact and use it to overcharge their loyal customers. Almost all of these pubs/restaurants/clubs have doubled their prices in comparison to normal places. This is a direct abuse of their customers and to people within this community. Also, this creates segregation and reiterates a common myth/ misconception about the LGBTQ community: WE ARE NOT ALL RICH. Although individuals in the gay community do not have (the option) to raise children, or marry this does not mean that we can all afford the absurd prices (because we are not paying for that extra hetero-normative dream) that these places expect us to pay just for allowing us to have a seat in their ‘humble’ abode. This also creates a huge split in the LGBTQ community between the middle/upper class and the lower class. Instead of targeting the community as a whole and giving the majority the option to have this so called ‘privilege’, they leave this option only for the tiny window of upper class citizens.
This dependency that we all have towards these ‘gay-friendly’ places has to stop. Just because a place markets themselves as ‘tolerant’, ‘accepting’, and ‘friendly’, doesn’t mean they actually are. We have to realize that we, as a community, are being exploited and abused for our money. Places like ‘Life Bar’ (for example) have a clear history of discriminating against members of the LGBTQ community and also charge absurd prices for the cheapest of drinks. Are we really ready to allow a place market themselves on our behalf and then rip us off while they are at it? Im not. Let the revolution begin now.
‘We are Lebanese citizens seeking to live in dignity, exercise our rights and duties with equality when dealing with co-citizens.’ Over 2,000 people joined Laïque Pride (a secular walk towards citizenship) today in Beirut. After a gruesome civil war, Lebanon is still suffering from the backlashes of sectarianism. Today proved however, that the Lebanese have had enough of sectarianism tearing the country apart and want a real tangible change. For once, People in Lebanon peacefully marched in solidarity in order to prove to the Lebanese government and the International Community that a separation of Religion from the State is not only needed but desperately wanted too. There were many blocks that went down to represent their ideologies and causes today. The two blocks that affected me the most was Nasawiya’s dancing and music filled group and the Queer Block. The feminists showed up in their usual bulk in order to yet again remind the world that they exist and they are not going anywhere fast. As usual, their impact was noticed and beautifully choreographed to add to the hustle and bustle that was ongoing, as well as supporting the cause. The Queer Block on the other hand showed up with only 5 members and yet happened to make quite a storm. With a banner that read ‘A7rar El Jeness Ma3 El 3elmeniyeh’ (Queers for Secularism), the Queer Block marched along with the crowd chanting ‘Shou tayfte? Ma Khassak! Ma3 min bnem? Ma khassak’ (What’s Your Sect? None of Your Buisness! Who Do You Sleep With? None Of Your business) and other catchy phrases. In the middle of the crowd, two men who were participating with the Queer Block publicly kissed for all to see while holding the banner ‘Queers for Secularism’. The Block went on to hold a small dance session and marched until the crowd dwindled down. Today, I am very proud to say that I was a part of that Queer Block. It was the most empowering experience of my life to hold up that banner and make a stand in front of all those people and remind them that we not only exist, but that we stand in solidarity with them in the fight for secularism. Get ready fellow queers, the Revolution has started.
Halfway through the protest that took place on January 23, the Lebanese army and police lashed out and horribly attacked members of the crowd in a brutal manner. As policemen raised their batons in order to strike, many protestors ran around 20 meters away from the authorized allocated banisters. Screams could be heard as people were hit regardless of age and gender and were bashed down to the ground. One member of the crowd was singled out by the Lebanese army and was beaten ruthlessly by four officers until two other
activists ran to his aid yet were also badly beaten. This attack was unprompted by the crowd as they were merely there to protest against the unjust treatment of the Palestinians in Gaza. Lebanon, being a so called democratic country, should teach their police and army to stay calm in such situations and not attack innocent members of a peaceful demonstration. After the police and army’s shameful attack, ambulances were called to the scene and the protest resumed with some fellow activists wounded from their savage attack.
On Saturday January 23, 2010 around 500 people joined a demonstration outside the Egyptian Embassy. The Egyptians (collaborating with the wishes of Israel and the United States) continue to build a steel wall to block the underground smuggling tunnels that lead in and out of Gaza. The protest was filled with groups such as the Lefist Assembly for Change, Communist Party, popular movement, PFLP, and several Palestinians independant of these groups.
The Egyptian Embassy is located near a main highway in Lebanon. In the first hour of protesting, the Lebanese army decided to push the protestors back by moving the bariccade that blocked protestors from the Embassy and attacking them. Most protestors moved around 20 meters back (directly into the street) as the army beat anyone )regardless of age, gender, etc..) who was in their direct vicinity. One man was attacked by four soldiers at the same time and quickly two of his fellow comrades came to his aid (they were also beaten). After the first hour of protesting with several Anti-Mubarak chants, the protestors decided it was time to close the street. This attempt was blocked several times by members in the protest who thought it would be rude to close the street and seemed to want to ruin the energy and the aim of the protest. However, after about twenty minutes of arguing, the other members of the protest closed the street successfully. Cars turned around and drove back, unable to pass through and protestors held their post for an hour either sitting or laying down on the ground chanting.
Join the protest against Gaza becoming a total open air prison. Make yourself heard, leave a statement, and join us outside the Egyptian Embassy to let them know that we believe they are removing the last source of hope for the people of Gaza.