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Friday, 25 September 2009

The Reunion: Stonewall

Listened to todays Re-union program on the BBC covering - Section 28 and Stonewall.  Listening now, some of the archive news recording is still shocking.

The Re-Union

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

International Police Officer of the Year 2009

Hello All you Homotopians...

I am over here in the pacific northwest in the beautiful city of Seattle. It is amazing. The weather, the people, my colleagues from around the world are making me very proud, humble and privileged to be here to receive my accolade.

I have listened to Colonel Miller from the Army police speak about her 35 years in the services, I listened to many distinguished people who use words such as "trailblazers in law enforcement" and "pioneers in the field of law enforcement"  and although I don't consider myself to be anything unique, it is mega to be here and share people's stories... I took part in the parade yesterday, joining policewomen from as far afield as South Africa, trinidad and tobago, Holland and even the Mounties... what an honour, 85 degrees heat, marching with my UK colleagues to the town hall... check out www.iawp.org and i shall update on wednesday when i receive my award which will be 1200 local time here which is 8pm uk time... hope my photo's have made the blog..
anyway, from International police officer of the year... bye bye... missing you all... see you in October xxxx   Tracy.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Jamaica - A grim place to be gay

This article by Peter Tatchell was published in the Independent on 12th September while we were in Poland.

Politicians and Pop Stars are to blame

In the wake of the murder of the British honorary consul in Jamaica, in an apparent queer-bashing attack, is it time to make British and EU aid to Jamaica contingent on the Caribbean island's repeal of its anti-gay laws and its tougher action against homophobic violence?

Monday, 14 September 2009

Group Photo

We'd been trying to take a group photo all week and finally managed on the last day, just before we got taxi's to the airport.  Nice one too.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

It's almost over and I've only been in trouble with the police twice.
Not the four British police officers who have accompanied us but the
polish police. Once for passport fraud and once for ticket evasion.
It's been a very long journey not just here in krakow and Warsaw but
for the last two years preparing the exchange. If I ever wonder has it
been worth it The response of the young people make it overwhelmingly
worthwhile.inspirational! I am a very happy homotopians x

Day five krakow

I would like to say that I have had a unique enlightening experience.
Each day has brought it's own intrigue. I have heard some truly
wonderful experiences and each interaction has taught me something. I
am a better person for this project and hopefully I will be a better
police officer. Thankyou to all happy homotopians. Tracy

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Last full day in Poland:

Wow! What a trip this has been! Iv have learnt so much, not just about
life as an lgbt person in Poland, but just about life in general! I've
loved it, and I am so greatful for this opportunity... I think this
have changed my perseption on life : ) smasher!

Hey there, Miki here :) this trip has been incredible. I have learnt
so much, like what it's like to be an lgbt person in Poland, life in
general and about WW2. I still can't get over the fact that I was
given this opportunity to experience a different culture, a different
life. I have met some delightful people along my journey, people I
know I will be friends with for the rest of my life. This jorney has
been one that I will never forget. I will tell my Grandkids about this
trip and the people I have met. YAY ME!! Over.

I love Poland! This trip has introduced me to some bizarre and
wonderful experiences, having met the most amazing people aswell the
trip has been unforgettable! [nipples] jess x

Marta Abramowicz

Today interviewed Marta Abramowicz who is the president of the KPH
Group (Campaign Against Homophobia).

In 2003 they took their first big action with a campaign 'Let them see
us'. This was big billboard posters of LGBT people holding hands. It
kick started a national discussion about the place of LGBT people in
Polish society.

This was the first time gay people were shown to be just like everyone
else, which was new to Poland. The general opinion before this was
that gay people should do what they do in secret.

This new visiabilty also saw an increase in homophobia. There was a
strong movement against the campaign from the far right. The leader
of this movement was also the minister for education. A new law was
introduced banning homosexuals from teaching in schools.

In the future she would like to see all LGBT people happy in Poland.
She would like to see partnership laws brought in as well strong
protection against discrimination.

Visit to embassy

If you want to ask directions ask the police except when in Poland.
Why you might ask? Because we started our visit to the embassy at the
embassy that was closed! We then went to the embassy that was
open to find a very nice guy called Kristof and his photographer
friend (I will come back to her later). There were a couple of senior
cops and two very nice people from KPH, Thomas and Marta.

We had a very short discussion until I realised I had forgotten my USB stick
with our presentation on. Luckily the wonderful Lou came to the rescue
and volunteered to go back to the hotel to collect it .

Karen kept the conversation going by asking questions our hosts
couldn't answer! That told us alot about our hosts and how much they
had ventured into the world of diversity (not very far at all really).
anyway there we were willing to help them on their way when the
wonderful lou arrived with said stick.

Our new friend the photographer took photos of us talking,
laughing, talking, more laughing, Tim filmed us. We showed them some photos
of our superlamb bananas, more talking
more laughing (are you getting the picture (tee hee).

Anyway we told them our stuff. We introduced them to Ken Dodd, ferry
across the Mersey, some of our iconic buildings and oh by the way
homophobia! This is the bit where it got tricky for them. We told them all
our stuff, offered to help them with their stuff, told them a bit moré
about our stuff, offered more help, more stuff, then kinda gave in.

We gave them lots of literature about GLBT stuff to support them more
I think they appreciated it but it was hard to tell really. Maybe they were so
overwhelmed with our journey they just couldn't say!

We gave our embassy man a lovely plaque from Merseyside police and
homotpia and then more photos.

We just have to wait and see now!

Ta ta for now jeannette

Friday, 11 September 2009

Police in warsaw

Police officers outside polonia hotel after their visit to the British
embassy. Looking smart and having shared our journey with LGBT matters
and our journey into the world of equality and diversity. All
character building and all very interesting. We should be very proud
of our work and our great experiences that we continue to have around
this area. I appreciate my world even more after today. Tracy


Travelled to Warsaw today with our Merseyside Police Representatives.
Chief Inspector Jeanette Wrigley joined us Yesterday. Our aim today
is to talk to the Polish Police at the British Embassy, demonstrating
some of the work Merseyside Police have been doing to tackle
homophobic hate crime. The young people are still in Krakow with the
Youth Workers and join us tomorrow.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Thoughts from Auschwitz

Some of the young people's thoughts during today's visit. Photos by Bev.

Forgotten victims

When we went to the bookshop at Birkenau we asked if there were any
accounts of homosexual victims of the Holocaust. The assistant said
no. Then we saw a book called Forgotten Victims of the Holocaust. I
looked up homosexual in the index and found only one reference in
nearly 400 pages, which was only a list of the different triangles
people in the camps wore. How much more forgotten could they be when
the Auschwitz museum does not record the experiences of thousands of
those who suffered in the holocaust? Kieran


Even on my third visit the impact of the camps can not be put into


The enormity of this really does hit you when you are faced with this
image. Truly chilling. Tracy

Visit to Auschwitz

Today we visited Auschwitz - I don't think anything can really prepare
you for this. For me, just the reality of the scale of it and the
ultimate lack of humanity really hits you. Time will be needed to
fully reflect.

On the filming side - tricky shoot -only filming where appropriate and
not really have the time to stop and film specific things. We're using
the Edirol audio recorders to capture the young peoples thoughts -
more appropriate.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

We've arrived!

Beautiful day as well. Only incident on flight was one of the toilet
seats got broken - the police have nothing to go on. (Tracy's joke).
Everyone's excited and looking forward to finding our way around.

Boarding the plane

Taken longer than we thought to board. A lost boarding pass and a
couple of misplaced bags - all sorted now. We're on out way!

Initial Interviews - Jess

Jess lives in Huyton, she moved there last year from Kirkby.  It's not too bad as long as no one knows you're gay - if you keep your head down it's fine.

She really doesn't know what to expect from the trip - the workshops have taught her that it's going to be very different - a bit of a culture shock.  She got involved because she wants to learn more about the holocaust - it wasn't really taught in school.

Jess goes to university soon to study film and video production and has ambitions to be a director.  Some examples of her work can be seen here

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Sent from my iPhone

Initial Interviews - David

David is from West Derby.  We met up at FACT where he likes to hang out as it's a calm place with good films thrown in.
He's found growing up as a young LGBT person in Merseyside has been OK as he's been blessed with supportive friends who don't care about his preferences.
From the trip, he's looking forward to gaining a better understanding of what happened during the Holocaust.
In general he believes that life for LGBT people in Poland will be worse than it is over here as it's something that people in Poland frown upon. He'd like to have the opportunity to ask Polish Polititions their thoughts on the whole gender issue.

Initial Interviews - Kieran

Kieran is one of the co-ordinators at GYRO (Gay Youth Are Out), one of the longest running gay youth projects in Livepool.
For them, this is a really different departure, bringing together 4 different youth groups from Merseyside that have never worked together before. It's a great opportunity for the young people to be able to compare their experiences with people from another country.
One of the issues GYRO comes up with is that young people don't have an awareness of LGBT history as it's not taught in school.  Some of them don't know that the age of consent was ever different or that male homosexuality was ever criminalised in this country.
He says 'I don't know quite what to expect in Poland, but from what I've read and what I've been told, the government is quiet conservative and homophobic.  It's going to be exciting and challenging but supporting the young people through their questions will be quite rewarding'. 

Friday, 4 September 2009

More from The Fire Workshop

Natalie Hayes from Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service explained to us the benefits people get from attending the fire fighting workshop. These include increased confidence, team building and communication skills.

Good communication is one of the main requirements a Fire Fighter needs, so the training starts and then builds from there.

It was obvious everyone really got a lot out of the day - It looked like great fun and it brought everyone together. Natalie thought our group had done really well. They'd motivated and supported each other and worked well as a team. Infact, she thought some of them were naturals and could potentially be Fire Fighters of the future - she'd be very happy to provide a reference.

Fire fighting workshop

Attended a team building workshop with the young people and the fire
service today. Lots of hose pipes and foam.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Initial Interviews - Jade

Jade lives in Widnes, where she says there's not much to do and not many places to go. Parts of it are safe, parts of it are rough, just like anywhere.

She likes being with friends, enjoys art, drama and english and is about to start college. Ultimately she would like to go to university and study to be a drama teacher.

Her perceptions of Poland are that life and lack of freedoms will be worse than over here.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Initial Interviews - Jenny

Jenny lives in Runcorn where she says there is nothing really to do, although she enjoys playing the drums and horse riding as well as hanging around with her friends.

Runcorn is pretty safe, but it depends on who you know. If you hold your girlfriends hand in Murdershaw you're liable to get a bit of abuse. You'll be alright if you're in the closet. She thinks there were only a couple of people who were out at school due to the fact that there wasn't any lessons on hate crime or sexuality to provide information and advice.

Jenny's Grandad is from Poland - infact he was one of the liberators from some of the concentration camps, so she's really interested in learning more about the histrocial side as part of the trip.