Bareed Mista3jil in Milan1,133 views
On the 23rd of November, 2010, a Bareed Mista3jil presentation was held in Milan, Italy. Two of our members, Athena and Stormie, were invited by the two local lesbian groups to speak about the book and its launch and to present Meem to a Milan audience.
ArciLesbica Zami is a lesbian group based in Milan and it is is part of a larger lesbian network of national groups called ArciLesbica (www.arcilesbica.it). The organisation was founded in 1996. They are active on a political level, mainly in the area of advocacy work and grassroot events, as well as on a cultural level. They organize book and film presentations, meetings on various issues, promotion of lesbian art and so on.
KOB is a group of gay and lesbian students at one of the Universities in Milan (http://www.kobmilano.it).
The presentation was held at Bicocca University (www.unimib.it) in the morning and at a cultural venue in Milan at night.
Upon their arrival, Stormie and Athena were picked up by representatives of the groups. On their way to the hotel, an exchange about respective social situations in each country occurred with a main focus on the Catholic church, its involvement in Italian society and the pressures it exerts on civil society and LGBT groups there. Everything was set for the presentation. The brochures were piled together, the awareness videos ready to be screened and the presentation started with a thank you address by KOB followed by an introduction by ArciLesbica who not only introduced Meem and Bareed but also presented Bekhsoos and the Jismi.net campaign for One Day One Struggle. This was followed by a showing of awareness videos and an excerpt reading by Athena, with subtitles in Italian simultaneously projected on the background. After the reading, a video of the Bareed Mista3jil launch preparations was shown. The audience was overwhelmed; they began singing along the video’s background song, ”can’t touch this”. Of the Q&A session that followed, Athena reports: “We were flooded with questions, everybody was curious about the region, mainly about religion and our lives in Lebanon and Beirut, the penal code and whether or not we have pride parades. The audience was explaining to us how in Italy, the saying goes that the people on the other shore are the homosexuals. Everybody was telling us how courageous we are, it was overwhelming.”
What is great about such events, is the opportunity for members to go a distance in order to present Meem and its work, and to understand in an up-close and personal way the importance of the work that each and everyone of us does.
To put it in Athena’s words: “Very few things in our Lebanese daily life as activists in LGBTQ rights reward us for our work; and I did not expect to find such interest and appreciation overseas. I was not involved in the making or the launching of Bareed so I would like to send all the congratulations, applause and looks of awe and interest that we got to the people who actually were involved in the making of that book; you are very courageous.”
As for Stormie, she was left with the following impact: “It’s funny how sometimes you need to move away from something to realize the true beauty and strength it holds. I think we often lose sight of where we come from, who we are, and what we are a part of. I hadn’t expected the conference in Italy to hit me as hard as it did. I had forgotten everyone’s excitement on the day of the Bareed Mista3jil launch, and the video was a heartwarming reminder. The whole presentation offered the Italian community a little insight into the life of the LBTQ community.
in Lebanon. The talks were followed by their genuine show of support, and their desire to collaborate with Meem. That was no surprise at all, I mean, yes, we know, Meem is a support group, Meem is safety and protection, and Meem is activism, but the real truth behind Meem is that Meem is love and hope, Meem is family, and above all Meem is home.”