Sunday, April 03, 2011

50 at Public Vigil for Slain
Gay/HIV+ Mongolians: Pix & Report

It is an honor and a privilege to share a written report and pix of Sunday night's courageous public vigil for two gay/HIV+ related murders in Mongolia, that were provided to me by Rob Garner, the executive director of the LGBT Centre in Ulaanbaatar. Freedom to assemble as open gays and HIV positive persons carries many risks to individuals over there.
If you have a blog, how about sharing the pix with readers? Please credit the centre when using their text or images, and link to our friends' site. It's one significant way to show solidarity.
Through email, I've offered p.r. assistance with a promise to widely promote their activities and concerns on my blog, and write letters to the Mongolian honorary consul in San Francisco and the embassy in DC about the killings. BTW, the consul for California is billionaire Richard Blum, the husband of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.
We have other solidarity work we're collaborating on, and I'm learning a lot about Mongolia and the LGBT and HIV community there. Since I've become acquainted with several responsible gay Russians and because they're much closer to Mongolia than me, I'm playing match-maker between the Russians and the Mongolians. Turns out at least two of the activists in Ulaanbaatar are fluent in Russian, making communication easy.
Background on the two unsolved murders that led to the Sunday evening vigil is here. Let's get to the news:

We rallied at the Buddha statue at Zaisan, and had from 40-50 people there (I counted 45 at one point, but that wasn't static). A bigger turnout than we expected, which was great. And lots of straight support as well - we have some fantastic and courageous straight allies.

It was surprising - but lovely - to see a few members of the public come up, look at what was happening and then take up candles - including one old man who stood shoulder to shoulder with everyone with his candle blazing, and a woman and her young child. Very touching indeed.

As expected, our ultra-nationalist "friends" from Dayar Mongol came along as well and stood around looking menacing, probably thinking they were intimidating. But there were too many people in attendance for them to do anything other than watch. Although one did ask Anaraa if everyone who was there was LGBT, to which she replied that most of them were not. He was probably happy to hear that - after all, I doubt they'd have the number of cars necessary to abduct everyone who was there.  

A circle of hope and solidarity with each other was formed near the end of our vigil. So we are very happy with how it went. 

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