United and Strong cel­e­brates 15 years by fram­ing the past

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

United and Strong Inc. has a rich history of vol­un­teerism by les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual, trans­gen­der, queer and in­ter­sex (LGBTQI) iden­ti­fied per­sons as well as al­lies. While the or­gan­i­sa­tion can­not name and recog­nise the many that have con­trib­uted dur­ing its 15 years of ex­is­tence, it has be­gun by fram­ing the past to guide the fu­ture.

A dis­play of per­sons key in the for­ma­tion of the or­gan­i­sa­tion and those who served on the first Board of Direc­tors has been erected. Pres­i­dent and Vice Pres­i­dent of the Board of Direc­tors (BoD) - Mar­cel­lus M. Miller and Jan­ice Stephens - un­veiled the dis­play. The ex­hibit pays homage to the vi­sion­ar­ies and the vol­un­teers who started a revo­lu­tion in LGBTQI hu­man rights or­gan­i­sa­tion in our small is­land and gave their time and pas­sion to keep the LGBTQI com­mu­nity united and strong.

Founded in 2000 and reg­is­tered in Novem­ber 2005, United and Strong Inc is a hu­man rights NGO that seeks to achieve recog­ni­tion of the rights of marginalised groups in Saint Lucia with a fo­cus on LGBTQI peo­ple. In a coun­try that still crim­i­nalises same-sex in­ti­macy and where dis­crim­i­na­tion against LGBTQI per­sons re­mains high, the or­gan­i­sa­tion has strug­gled to thrive. This is why it’s 15th year of ex­is­tence is par­tic­u­larly sig­nif­i­cant.

Ac­tiv­i­ties are also be­ing staged to in­clude dis­cus­sions among com­mu­nity mem­bers, staff and BoD on mat­ters re­lated to ad­vanc­ing the goals of the or­gan­i­sa­tion and other is­sues of mu­tual in­ter­est.

The cel­e­bra­tions have been launched on so­cial me­dia and the pub­lic is en­cour­aged to send con­grat­u­la­tions us­ing #15Yrs4US!”. The year’s over­all theme, #Ed­u­ca­tionAc­cep­tanceLove, is a fur­ther ral­ly­ing call on­line.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion’s flag­ship Red Rib­bon pub­lic HIV AIDS out­reach also con­tin­ues through­out Novem­ber into De­cem­ber. A vol­un­tary test­ing and coun­selling ses­sion will be held in Soufriere on 27th Novem­ber.

The un­veil­ing of a dis­play of per­sons key in the

for­ma­tion of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

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