I stink. We have been peeing in the street, behind trees and in dank corners. I’ve had less than 5 good hours of sleep in the last 2 days and am fighting to keep my eyes open. The sun is white hot and even though I’m under an umbrella, I can feel my skin parching. My tongue is dry and heavy in my mouth and my lips are cracked. It’s an effort to speak. I’m dying to drink some water, juice, beer, coconut water, peanut punch, swank, Guinness, but it’s still Ramadan, damn it. I just had a conversation with a woman who went on and on about how horrible it was that a school was burned but who said nary a word about the three men who were killed. You can build back a school (they’re starting tomorrow actually), but you can’t bring the dead back to life! Don’t tell us that Ramotar has to go, that you’re in support of us, that we’re doing a good job and then wave and go along your way. I need you to sit here with me. Yes, the sun is fucking hot. Yes, there is nowhere proper to relieve yourself. Yes, most people just pass us straight, on their way to and from work, shopping, or drinking/partying session. Yes, we have mad people within our midst and sometimes you will look around and wonder what the hell you’re doing, if you are not mad yourself. Yes, sometimes people will walk or drive past and tell you that you should go to hell, that you need a good choking, that you are wasting your time, that nothing will ever change. Yes, sometimes in talking to people, or in not talking- as they pass you straight, you will feel the tears pricking in your eyes and the howls gathering at the back of your throat. Yes, the same police who pulled your shelter down around you, making you now sleep on cardboard in the park, and huddle under insufficient umbrellas under the tropical weather will pass by again to snicker and harass you some more. Yes, the ‘politicians’ who say they care will come and sit and talk among themselves- they will not offer to help you light the diyas- a slippery, frustrating process that leaves you with ghee all over your hands and every other diya being blown out by the wind. Nor will they talk with the people passing by, asking them what they think. Instead, they will leave and go pick up the mic in the usual spot and tell people what they should do. A luta continua..
The park we are occupying is just around the corner from Leopold st- home of many trans Guyanese. I don’t know exactly how they ended up there, just that trans folks often get rejected and thrown out by their families, and that there are several (unofficial) ‘group homes’ in that area. The neighborhood is not a welcoming one at all- with a plethora of ‘junkies’, pimps, choke and robbers, hustlers, etc. But it’s not sleeping on a cardboard box on a piss and shit stink pavement in front of Parliament. Still, the ‘girls’ have to navigate this hostile terrain every day, on their way to and from work. “Eh! You is a man or a woman?” “Look, she walking on her hands. Ey- why you walking like that?” Even the more innocuous ones “Hey girl, how was work tonight?” or comments about clothes, hairstyle, etc, reveal a level of homophobia and transphobia that disturbs me. These are my comrades in the struggle after all, passionate revolutionaries for justice and freedom but here they are exhibiting intolerance and advocating hate. Can I really tie my bundle with these people? Will I ever find true community? Or will I have to add this to the list of battles I’m already fighting? “Hey, that’s my community you’re talking about. Those people are my friends. Hearing this kind of talk from you all bothers me. I am fighting for human rights and freedoms for all.” The newspaper article already outed me- LGBT activist. On this they were right, even if they got other key facts wrong- we were not evicted- the state tried but failed and our occupation continues. I vow to bring my rainbow flag the next time I go home to bathe and plant it next to the Guyana flag and Linden solidarity banner. PS- Eid Mubarak!
We are a motley crew. Aside from the Red Thread stalwarts, we are a horse cart man, an Ayotallah Khomeni admirer, an alarmingly thin woman and her pregnant 17 yr old daughter, one mad professor, one half cracked girl who daringly confronts hypocritical politicians, police, and pimps, but wails at the loss of her sister, mother’s love, and children, a sweetie vendor, several taxi men, a female bus driver, several bicyclists and former police/army men, a PhD or two, lawyer, a newspaper columnist in fear of his life, an unemployed youth man, a tall mechanic man, a recovering alcoholic counselor, an unrepentant sleepyguard with a love for rum and learning, several church women, several party people, and me. We are mothers, daughters, fathers and sons, fighters and dreamers. We are the 1%. We do yoga and stretches in the morning dew, tell jokes at midnight, and watch each other’s back. A woman donates a tray of eggs. A man drops off candles and stays to gaff til dayclean. Others come and go. We need you to stay. We need to work together to bring change to Guyana. We need revolutionary love. JOIN US. Together we can make this a reality.