Lebanese Video Speech at Montreal's Outgames
At the world's first Outgames in Montreal, which has been considerably more international than Chicago's Gay Games, a Lebanese activist from Helem, Rasha Moumneh, was supposed to give a speech during the opening ceremonies. The statement drew attention to the atrocities being committed in Lebanon by the Israeli military and Helem's support of the boycott of this year's World Pride in Jerusalem. It also highlighted the bind that Helem finds itself in: struggling against an oppressive government at home on the one hand and resisting the pull of neo-colonialist agendas that attempt to co-opt human rights causes to justify their ends on the other.
The speech was recieved with a standing ovation from many of the audience members, some of whom openly voiced support and solidarity with Helem and the people of Lebanon and Palestine. The video can be accessed here, but it is not working on this cheap internet cafe computer. Nevertheless, To Be, a Canadian magazine, had some quotes:
Nowhere was the solidarity of the conference attendees more felt than in the reaction to a video sent by the LGBT rights group Helem, which has branches in both Lebanon and Montreal. The delegates gave a standing ovation after a representative of the group explained why she could not attend. “The air, land and sea blockade imposed by the state of Israel have killed three hundred in Lebanon and by conservative estimates, 650,000 have been internally displaced,” she said. “As of July 12, when the hostilities started, all of Helem’s LGBT work stopped and Helem is donating its space and resources to humanitarian relief efforts.”There was also a bit in another Canadian magazine, Capital Xtra:
"Today, we are fighting for human rights, more so for those in Lebanon," says Remy, from Helem, a Montreal-based organization that fights for the rights of Lebanese queers around the world.
For its part, Helem found tremendous support from athletes and participants as they gathered outside the stadium entrance.
"I was overwhelmed," Remy says in a quivering voice.
With Lebanon and Israel in conflict, Helem was approached by the Outgames to take part in the opening ceremony as a keeper of peace.
Members of the Israeli team shared in the call for peace. Gur Rosen and Dan Alogor from Team Israel had a talk with Helem members, something that would only have been possible at a meet like the Outgames.