Wednesday, April 28, 2010

China Lifts HIV Entry Ban [queer news!]

Queer news, good news! After the USA finally "did it" in January, here's China following!

China has finally revoked a ban that did not allow people with HIV/AIDS to enter the country. Last year, Australian novelist, essayist and editor, Robert Dessaix was not granted entrance into China after declaring his status as HIV positive. More than 90 Australian writers had reacted by signing a letter decrying China's refusal to grant a visa to one of Australia's most celebrated writers.

China's regulation formally banned foreigners with "psychiatric illness, leprosy, AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, active pulmonary tuberculosis or other infectious diseases" to enter the country. Note that, according to 2009 Ministry of Health and UN estimates, China has 560,000 to 920,000 people infected with the HIV virus and 97,000 to 112,000 AIDS patients. 

The amended rules now remove the explicit plan on people with HIV/AIDS as well as anyone with leprosy. However, the new rules still prevent foreigners "with serious psychiatric illness, infectious pulmonary tuberculosis or other infectious diseases that may constitute a major threat to public health" from entering the country. 

This decision comes in as, on Friday, Shanghai opens its World Expo, a multibillion dollar exhibition that is China's effort to promote an image as a forward-looking and open country.

[Read more at The Guradian here.]

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On Harm Reduction Services in Mauritius [a video]

Because sometimes, we get so wrapped up into our own lives, into our own little beings that we forget about the rest of the world. Because there are things happening in my native island too. Because there are things that I forgot, or did not care to find out about in the past seven years that I have been away. (And probably because I will be home next week too!)

This is an advocacy video made in Mauritius, following the first conference on Opiate Abuse and Harm Reductions Services in the island. It's called "Let's Face It" and was organized the Collectif Urgence Toxida (CUT).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Paper Cup [some poetry]

[It's been a long time since I posted some poetry on the blog. Please note that I am the only freak you'll encounter who's capable of 'recycling' a Tim Hortons cup into a metaphor for feelings not always articulable.]


Dawn, dry leaves wreathe in hunger
At the night falling, and the smell,
The uncertain smell of departure.

A crepuscular kitchen, a wooden floor
Steps and creaks, heels and clacks:
Sounds, uncertain, groping for

The feel, the feel of something familiar:
A switch, golden lights, an evening routine,
Lethargic, like the cycle of a caterpillar.

Close the windows, shut out desires
Step out, empty the trash, get the mail
Bills, flyers, more bills, more flyers.

And there, covered in Spring dust
Lying amidst tin-cans, cartons in a blue box
Lies the empty Tim Hortons cup.

A paper cup, moulded to the shape of your lips 
Torn at the rim by the nervousness of you teeth
A paper cup summoning you, your presence, your heavy hips.

A paper cup wetting my ears, dripping saliva from your lips
Biting my nipples like black coffee on your nervous teeth,
A paper cup inside me, crushing my legs with your heavy hips.

An empty cup, void like my soul, bound to be recycled
And your presence, summoned, called for, imagined...
A presence, I tried to, but couldn't recycle.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Quote and a Dedication [on the nature of love, to the loved ones]

Back in September, after my first reading of Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies, I had posted this quote and this dedication to a few loved ones. This piece was probably the part of the novel that made me gasp the most in aesthetic awe. As I re-read the novel this week, I came across another piece that got me thinking, this time, about love.

It's been an overwhelming week-end for me, to say the least. Over the week-end I found love, pouring out to me like a fountain, I found connections that I had lost over the months and I spent quality time with some "old friends" whose presence in my life, I had never realized I valued so much. This quote got me thinking about all the love I've found in the most awkward and unexpected places around the globe throughout my life: What is the relationship between space and love? What makes people fall in love while being in a particular space and time? What are the particular acts that makes you pour your heart out? How do you give up your own self, almost on a whim, to somebody you just met, just because you know you ought to do it?

Once again, I dedicate this to the many people I've loved and to many who've loved me, for no reasons at all, with the intensity of a craftsman for his handiwork.

"To take care of another human being-- this was something Neel had never before thought of doing, not even with his own son, let alone a man of his own age, a foreigner. All he knew of nurture was the tenderness that has been lavished on him by his own care-givers; that they would come to love him was something he had taken for granted-- yet knowing his own feelings for them to be in no way equivalent, he had often wondered how that attachment was born. It occurred to him now to ask himself if this was how it happened: was it possible that the mere fact of using one's hands and investing one's attention in someone other than oneself, created a pride and tenderness that has nothing whatever to do with the response of the object of one's care-- just as a craftsman's love for his handiwork is in no way diminished by the fact of it being unreciprocated?"

Friday, April 9, 2010

A School in Belgium Offers Its Support to a Transsexual Teacher

A sports teacher in the small village of Ohain, 20 kilometres from Bruxelles, in Belgium made his upcoming change of sex official, the latter resulting in much support from students, teachers, the school's administration as well as the parents of the students.

Jean-Charles is 43, married and father of two daughters. He teaches gymnastics and sports in the village school. Jean-Charles recently went back to work after a period away on "medical leave" during which he had started his transition. Upon his return, his students and colleagues noticed the radical change in his body, the way he carried himself and his overall behavior. On being called upon by the administrative body to discuss the doubts of the students, aged from 2-12, about his appearance, Jean-Charles confessed that he had started transitioning and that his operation is scheduled for July 2011.

The administration organized a meeting with the students, their parents and the teachers of the school last week in which the support that the school wants to grant to Jean-Charles was confirmed. Jean-Charles had been an outstanding teacher throughout his career and the school decided to support him. An entire structure of information has thus been put at the disposal of the children including pamphlets on transsexuality, counselling sessions for the students who may have difficulty understanding and/or accepting transsexuality, and the students' parents have been put in touch with scholars and research institutes that have an expertise in transsexual studies.

This comes about as an achievement for Belgium where only two weeks ago, a transsexual aged 24 killed herself while participating in a real-TV show about plastic surgery.

(Article translated from French; source here.)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

On The Fab Four and Jason Kenney [yes, one more post on Kenney!]


Four small U.S. jurisdictions want to secede from the United States and join Canada. Elm Point and The Northwest Angle are both in Minnesota, Alburgh in Vermont and Point Roberts is in Washington. The four states accumulate a total mass of land of 417 square km and their total population comes up to 3,4222. The four pieces of land are not directly connected to the larger mass of American land and from the U.S.A, they can only be reached either by boat or by Canadian road.

More interesting trivia:

These four jurisdictions call themselves The Fab Four. They've hired a marketing company and are now up in a campaign on television and via Youtube in order to be noticed on the world's stage. 

Rather outrageous trivia:

Dearest Jason Kenney, Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism (what does that even mean?), reacted in his normal shrug-it-off-killer-humor-tone (that could literally kill) by spewing more of his homophobic thoughts: "Honestly, I don't think I want to start a war with the U.S. over some sections of land smaller than my uncle's hobby farm. And calling yourself the Fab Four, that's suspiciously flamboyant, to my mind. We've got enough of that already."

Read more here.