Remarks delivered by Jeremy Steffan Edwards of The Silver Lining Foundation for The British High Commission IDAHO flag-raising – 19 May 2014
Members of the Diplomatic Corps, members of the Media, fellow colleagues and advocates, ladies and gentlemen.
I would like to specially thank the British and German Foreign Missions for allowing us to participate in today’s historic proceedings. The Silver Lining Foundation is proud to be associated with the members here as they seek to engage their Trinidadian hosts and people in the discussion of an issue that has been long ignored, much to the peril of some of our nation’s youth.
I would like to make the distinction that the Silver Lining Foundation is a youth organization that seeks to address bullying and violence in a holistic manner. This includes tackling these issues within the framework of sexual diversity. So while the Foundation is not an out-and-out LGBT advocacy group, we recognize that the push for equality is an inherent fight we must take on.
The Silver Lining Foundation was born out of the tragic death by suicide of a young 16 year old student right here in Trinidad. This promising young man, taken from us too soon, struggled with something many young people struggle with today. Unbeknownst to him, other young men and women were at the very same time, and still are battling to come to terms with their sexual identity; a fraction of whom grapple with suicidal ideations as a result.
We live in a country where our young people believe that accepting that they may have a sexual identity that’s different from heterosexuality immediately places a target on them, making it easy to become the victims of insults, violent physical altercations and sometimes death, even if it is at their own hands. Inspired by the lives and stories of those who have faced such hardships and with a commitment to prevent further tragedies from ever taking place, The Silver Lining Foundation, through efforts and programs that provide Support, Education and Advocacy, have taken on the task of replacing hatred with awareness and compassion.
This change however, is not something that will come easily nor will it come any faster should we choose to sit and wait for it. It is through such shows of support, as is being done here today by the British and Canadian High Commissions and the German and US Embassies together with the efforts of local advocacy groups, the University of the West Inides, St. Augustine Campus and the Media that we acknowledge:
1) YES, there is a problem and NO, it isn’t going away and
2) Those who feel isolated ostracized from the society are not alone.
We are proud to stand here in a show of support and solidarity with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community around the world but especially those here in Trinidad and Tobago.
It is also with great pride that I am pleased to announce that on June 7th 2014, The Silver Lining Foundation, together with organisations from Barbados, Belize, Guyana and Jamaica will launch a movement called Generation Change. Young leaders from across the Caribbean will assemble here next month calling on all regional leaders to commit to their promises for equality and inclusion for LGBT people in their countries. We hope this initiative will indeed spawn a new generation of change in the region as young people become empowered to stand up and demand what is rightfully theirs.
And so, I take comfort, that in the face of the many horrors and ills that pervade society, we have not become disillusioned nor discouraged. Progress will come so long as we keep asking ourselves how would it feel were it a crime to love the persons we love and how would it feel to be discriminated against for something that you cannot change.
As we continue in pursuit of this change, I thank once again, the partners and friends we have made in the foreign missions and those fellow countrymen who share the same desire for this nation.
It is my hope that as we move forward and as we engage much more of those who currently sit on the sidelines that they too can be motivated to speak up, if not for others then certainly themselves.