The end of the academic year coincided with the Activist QUEERathon for young LGBT people from the EECA region. From May 30 to June 02, QUEERathon was held in Tbilisi under the slogan: protest, sex, rights.
QUEERathon is a unique annual educational intensive course for LGBT youth in the EECA region organized by ECOM. In 2022 we held our first Blogger QUEERathon
. And this year, we organized the Activist QUEERathon — several days of intensive training and communication for beginner LGBT activists from the EECA region.
“One of ECOM's goals is the support and development of young LGBT activists in the EECA countries. After all, ageism in relation to youth is a current problem in LGBT activism. That's why we're trying to provide beginner queer activists with support and knowledge which they can use to change this world with greater force,” says Tina Sobko, ECOM Communications Officer and one of the QUEERathon trainers.
The goal of the Activist QUEERathon was to help young LGBT activists find their calling. Therefore, in four days, the participants looked into the concept of human rights, learned how to protect their rights and fight for equality, got acquainted with the tools of influence on public opinion and learned how to communicate with opponents. In addition, the participants learned how to write and talk about rights and sex education in a way that would be watched and read.
“For me, as an LGBT activist, interaction with other activists from other countries is extremely important. Changing attitudes towards queer people is not a process of one country, it's a process that must go on all over the world, so it's important for us to share experience, support and participate in changes in all countries. For me, participation in QUEERathon is part of my activism, it's interaction with very interesting and versatile people. This is what makes our joint work for social change better and more effective. We must cooperate and be one joint movement,” shared her impressions Angelika Frolova, the main QUEERathon trainer and an LGBT activist from Moldova.
10 young activists from different countries of Central Asia and Eastern Europe took part in the event: from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Tajikistan and Russia.
“This is an invaluable experience and knowledge that I received from the trainers. All these four days were full of emotions: we cried and laughed, and supported each other. This is an invaluable experience for me,” says Milana, QUEERathon participant.
The main thing that we were able to achieve for our participants was a safe supportive space where they could not only share ideas for their future projects, but also just be themselves, be a queer person around people who will not judge you.
“I'm very grateful to ECOM for this opportunity, I'm grateful to all the trainers and graduates of the previous QUEERathon who conducted sessions for us. I feel very comfortable, very accepted and very happy,” says Ayjamal, QUEERathon participant.
In addition to 10 participants, three graduates of the previous QUEERathon took part in the event. They not only acted as mentors for the new participants, but also held sessions during which they shared their experience of activism and developing their personal social networks and podcasts after the Blogger QUEERathon.
“It was exciting to take part in QUEERathon for the second time, especially as a mentor. Multitasking broke all records – it was necessary to listen carefully to the sessions, together with this refine your own, prepare various team building activities and at the same time get closer to the participants to build trusting and comfortable relationships. As a result, same as it was after the first QUEERathon, when I left home, I knew that I had found new friends who were ready to support any idea, and new knowledge that would definitely come in handy in my future work.
However, QUEERathon did not end there! The participants will have the opportunity to implement their campaign! Here we, as a team of mentors, will be actively involved – we'll help to write an application, share our experience in implementing a campaign, and we'll simply support. So, I'm looking forward to turning ideas into reality,” summed up Alina, a participant in the Blogger and Activist QUEERathon.
After the end of QUEERathon, ECOM will support informationally and financially the best project ideas that the participants developed during QUEERathon.
The event is organized by ECOM — Eurasian Coalition for Health, Rights, Gender and Sexual Diversity.
The event is held as part of the project “SHAG — Sustainable Health Advocacy for Gay Men” coordinated by Mpact, with financial support from the Robert Carr Fund.