March 11 - The Reason
First off this month I want to bring your attention to a new column by our regular columnist, Patrick Strudwick. He’s been entertaining us with his sexual exploits for the last few years but now, as befits his status as an award-winning serious gay journalist, he’s tackling some more hard-hitting subjects. His first piece this month is about gay asylum seekers fleeing persecution in their own countries only to end up in the UK, impoverished, humiliated and ultimately deported back home. It’s a real call to arms for all of us.
LGBT asylum seekers certainly need our help and support. But all too often we tend to think of them as hapless victims. In fact, every time I’ve met an asylum seeker, gay or straight, what has impressed me most is their courage and resourcefulness. They have stood up for what they believe in, including the right to be themselves, and have overcome huge difficulties and hardships to come here to seek freedom. And very often, being granted asylum is not the end of their struggle – instead they continue to campaign for those who are still in danger in their countries of origin, they support others seeking refuge here and they work hard to give back to the community in their adopted home. When we think of granting asylum we should remember we are giving homes to heroes.
Also in this issue Paul Canning takes a look at some new glimmers of hope in gay Africa. Oppression and violence continues but with more organised campaigns for gay rights and support from “the West” there is some sense of progress and optimism despite the setbacks.
So I hope this March issue, full of heroes both real and fictional, will cheer you up however bleak a start you may have had to the new year.