It’s party time for GLBT community
The Island’s gay community is encouraged to step out of the “corners and closets” and band together for Bermuda’s first advertised gay party on Monday night.
Organised by gay rights activist Valentino Tear, it’s hoped Pink Disco Monday will provide a fun and safe environment for the local gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
Musician Shine Hayward will perform at the event at Red Steakhouse & Bar; Mr. Tear will DJ.
The colour pink is usually associated with the gay community and Mr. Tear urged party goers to wear the shade that night.
He said he was hopeful the new Government would support the parties, which are expected to be held weekly, and that it might help them move quicker to implement equal rights for all.
He said he knew he was gay from as early as primary school, and never hid his sexual orientation.
Growing up in a poor household, he learned how to survive by developing self-confidence and a sense of pride in who he was. “That’s something that was instilled in me from young by my mother Phyllis Tear,” he said. “She encouraged me to be proud of myself and to be who I am.”
Mr. Tear was part of the campaign leading up to the Stubbs Bill in 1994 which decriminalised homosexuality.
He also used to DJ at private parties on the Island and in the early 1990s started the Island’s first gay night at Showbiz Restaurant in Hamilton.
He wasn’t immune to negative treatment for being gay — nor were other gay rights activists he befriended such as Curtis Gray and Wilfred Oopie Ming, Jr, who was stabbed to death in a St George’s nightclub in 1994.
Mr. Tear said: “Being at parties in Bermuda we have been attacked by gangs. Leading up to the change of the law, myself and other important members of the Bermuda gay community were approached by a gang who pulled up in an open-back jeep brandishing Molotov cocktails.
“We stood our ground and they soon dispersed and left, but it has been a rough time. My life has been threatened on occasion and we shouldn’t have to live that way.”
He told The Royal Gazette it was vital that he continue his fight for gay rights and help others who are more afraid to speak up.
“When I feel like I am floating away from the movement, I feel a sense of being worthless, like there’s no reason to be.
“And there are so many young, talented people in Bermuda that are destroying themselves as a result of being forced into corners and closets and I think I am standing up for them.
“I will continue to stand up for them until the day I die.”
Mr. Tear said he wanted others in the GLBT community to attend Monday’s event so they know they have support and a “place they can turn”.
“I want them to know there are other GLBT people in Bermuda other than myself that are willing to put their neck on the line to give them a safe haven,” he said.
The Pink Disco starts at 6pm on Monday. Entry is $20 and includes one free cocktail. If successful, part proceeds from future events will go towards raising money for a library for the Kgaswe International Highschool in Botswana, a place dear to Mr. Tear’s heart.
By Nadia Arandjelovic
Source: The Royal Gazette