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LGB RPCV NewsLetter - May 2005 
May 2005In This Issue
Lesbian Health in Moldova
Gay Activism in Jamaica
A Partner in Burkina Faso
Crisis Corps in Namibia
Findlay Runs for NPCABoard
Membership Update
Moldova: Lesbian Health Project Update
n the May issue PCV Molly Lamphear brings us up to date on the Lesbian andBisexual Women’s Health Project in Moldova we helped fund.
Tony Hronchronicles the unexpected turn in his life during and following his Peace Corpstour in Jamaica.
We have a follow-up story from Mark Canavera and his longdistance partner Parza.
Robert Philipson writes about his Crisis Corps assignmentand time in Namibia.
Bob Findlay is running for the NPCA Board.
- Molly Lamphear, PCV The project is now un-der way. GenderDoc_M,the local NGO and Mol-dova’s gay rights organi- zation is the local part-ner who is spearheading activities.
Editors note:
LGB RPCVs and others contributed funds late last  year to the Peace Corps Partner- ship Project, Healthy Lifestyles for  Lesbian and Bisexual Women in Mol-dova. The project is now under way.GenderDoc_M, the local NGO and Moldova’s gay rights organizationis the local partner who is spear-heading activities. This is an edited report received recently from Molly Lamphear, the PCV coordinator withcontributions from Lada Pascar, Gen-derDoc_M’s Coordinator of Women’s Programs and Boris Balanetskii, MD,Coordinator of HIV/AIDS projects.
About 15 young women from thelocal Lesbian and Bisexual Women(LBW) community recently took partin the seminar at the GenderDoc_Moffice in Chisinau, Moldova’s maincity, on sexually transmitted diseases(STDs) and safer sex practices affect-ing them. The seminar was organized by a team of lesbian activists includ-ing Faina Grossman from Germany,an expert in the field with experienceconducting such seminars in manycountries. She is the author of anillustrated brochure on lesbian safer sex practices.During the first part of the seminar Faina Grossman gave a presentationdescribing women’s STDs in rela-tion to lesbian and bisexual women,followed by a group discussion.Participants discussed different issuesin relation to LBW STDs: the safetyof lesbian sex, the degree of danger in transmitting HIV/AIDS amongfemale lovers, issues of trust betweenlong-time partners, and the necessityof open dialogue between partnersin relation to sexual practices andSTDs. The second part of the seminar was dedicated to safer sex lesbian practices. The participants learnedhow to protect themselves and their sex partners from STDs, how to talk with their partners about the neces-sity of practicing safe sex, and howto reduce the danger of transmittingHIV/AIDS and hepatitis.The presentation was followed bya discussion that revealed that youngwomen from the local LBW commu-nity rarely use measures of protectionduring lesbian sex. In the end of thediscussion the participants admittedthat the seminar was very effectiveand useful, that a lot of them hadheard this information for the firsttime, and that they had gained veryimportant theoretical and practicalknowledge. At the end of the seminar many participants said that they nowunderstood the necessity of usingmeasures of protection during lesbiansex and learned how to talk about thatwith their partners.Another seminar, this one for medical workers (gynecologists,obstetricians, family doctors etc.)is planned in June. The topic of thisseminar is “Lesbian and BisexualWomen: How can doctors answer health needs of this group.” Themain aim of the seminar is to givethe doctors working directly withcontinued on page 7
LGB RPCV NewsLetter - May 2005 
Jamaica Peace Corps Service Leads to Gay Activism
- Anthony Hron, RPCV 
I had read that thissmall Caribbean na-tion was highly homo- phobic, but I figured itcouldn’t be that muchworse than Nebraskaand Iowa 20 years agowhen I was coming out.
When I decided to become a PeaceCorps Volunteer, I wanted a changefrom the teaching career that I was pursuing, but I never expected thedirection this change would take or the personal satisfaction that wouldresult. I had hoped to serve in thefairly new environ-mental program inChina, but time-lines prevented thatso, of the choicesleft to me, Jamaicaseemed the mostsuitable basedon my meatlessdietary preference.I had read that thissmall Caribbeannation was highlyhomophobic, but I figured it couldn’t be that much worse than Nebraskaand Iowa 20 years ago when I wascoming out. I figured wrong – itwas worse in some ways, but much better in others – and I would soonfind myself enmeshed in the issue onmany levels.Within weeks in-country, another trainee and I were in contact withthe country’s primary gay rightsorganization, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), being managed at the time bya woman named Emily, a recent col-lege graduate from, by coincidence,Minnesota. The coincidences keptcoming when I was assigned a work site in the capital city of Kingston(much to my disappointment), whereJ-FLAG was located, and then real-ized that my housing was less than a block from Emily’s apartment. This began a 3 year affiliation with theorganization first as Emily’s volun-teer assistant (this was my officialPeace Corps secondary project, muchto some people’s consternation) andeventually as the Programme Direc-tor. During this time, I experienceda very complex and fascinating gaycommunity and a cause worth fight-ing for.Compared to my mid-westernexperience, my Jamaican gay experi-ence was like a tight rubber band – the same core issues but stretchedto the extreme. The anti-gay rhetoricand violence was much greater, butthe cohesion of thecommunity wasgreater as well, atleast within thehighly segregatedsocial castes, avestige of thecolonial power dis-tributions. While Iwas more closetedin Jamaica (I never revealed my sexu-ality to my hostfamily during training for instance), Idid find a degree of expression I hadnever experienced in the States. For example, as a representative for a gayorganization, I routinely discussedmy sexuality and issues related to ho-mosexuality with complete strangers.I also became a member of a largegay community for the first time – the by-product of monthly social gather-ings hosted by J-FLAG that drewhundreds of gay men and women. Infact, I had more dates in the first 6months of my service than I had inthe previous 6 years in Iowa! I waseven asked to be a judge for two dragqueen competitions, complete withformal dinners, swimsuits, eveninggowns and live talent performances.Unfortunately, this expression wasvery tenuous beyond the gates of thecompounds where gays gathered.Very few individuals were openlygay. Among the upper class, certainindividuals were known and “accept-ed” but never publicly identified. Pro- priety and decorum precluded this,even for those whose social statuswould prevent any negative repercus-sions. For the well-to-do, workingclass, right down to the inner-cityunemployed, fear of losing their homes, jobs, family or social stand-ing kept nearly everyone in the closetand most from pursuing any kind of committed relationship. There wereexceptions, like the male couple wholived together and had two adoptedsons, the drag queen who performedfor tourists by night and enjoyed hiscommunity’s protection by day, andthe lesbian couple who ran a gay innon the north coast. There were a few, but fear kept most in a well-protectedcloset. In this regard, the degree of fear, discrimination and violence wasmuch more serious than in the U.S.,and these were the issues that keptme very busy as a volunteer.As I mentioned earlier, the ideathat a PCV would be working with aLGBT advocacy organization didn’tsit well with some people, most nota- bly a U.S. Embassy official who I hadapproached for assistance in finding avenue for a fund-raising performance
The Jamaica OutPost andOutReach Caribbean are twomeans for LGBT communi-cation in the Caribbean thatshould be supported, particu-larly by LGBT RPCVs whohave served in this part of the world. Go to the two websites that Tony and Jason ad-minister. You can subscribe by check or through PayPalto provide additional fundsfor printed versions of thenewsletter and other activi-ties of The Jamaica OutPostat
.Check out their 
for other gay and human rights proj-ects and activities through-out the Caribbean.
continued on page 6
LGB RPCV NewsLetter - May 2005 
Parza: Writing His Name
- Mark Canavera, RPCV Burkina Faso
“What did your father say?” I asked with bait-ed breath. “He asked tosee your picture,” Parzareplied. We have hisfamily’s felicitous andunexpected blessing.
Funny, that I thought writing my partner’s name, “Parza,” would bea relief. Oh, it may not look likemuch to you since you’re readingit in Times New Roman or maybeArial, who knows. But know thatwhen I write it, when I really writeParza with a thick pen that’s purpleor green or royal blue, it swirls onthe pages with curlicues, basking inits newfound glow of legibility. Itsounds even better. Read it out loud:Parza. Do it, read it: Paaaarza. Rollsoff the tongue with a zing, doesn’t it?PAARZA!You might have read about Parza before, just without knowing it. Inan earlier edition of this newsletter,Parza was P_____, my anonymousBurkinabè lover (February 2003, seehttp://www.lgbrpcv.org/articles/02_ 03_burkina.htm). I wrote anonymous-ly as well since this newsletter is sentto Peace Corps staff in Burkina Fasoand both Parza and I feared losingour thin veil of secrecy. We’re nolonger anonymous: P_____ is Parza,and I am Mark. I had thought thatwriting Parza, outing Parza, declaringParza, would rush through me likean electric wave, a thrilling release, athrowing off of the protective cloak of anonymity. A naked jump into icywaters. Writing Parza was supposedto be a Defining Moment, both hiscoming out and ours.Parza gave me permission towrite about him by name about threemonths ago, some two years after my departure from Burkina Faso.“Write it all,” he said. “Everything!Don’t leave out a single detail.” Atthe time, I itched at the prospectof artfully sketching vignettes of Parza’s coming-out process: theday he learned the French words for “homosexual” and “fag,” our firstkiss, the time he saw Doug kiss his boyfriend on “Melrose Place” (yes,it showed in Burkina), and finally,triumphantly, the moment he declaredto me, “Voilà! That’s who I am – aman who prefers men to women.”All interesting in their own ways, butstories like these have already beentold a thousand times.Parza’s story has more. In May of last year, Parza, who like me is 27,faced increasing pressure from hisfamily to get married and to start afamily. To stem the tide of marriage proposals, he decided to tell his father about our relationship, one-uppingme. I feared that he would be chasedfrom the village, ostracized. “Whatdid your father say?” I asked with baited breath. “He asked to see your  picture,” Parza replied. We have hisfamily’s felicitous and unexpected blessing.Writing Parza was supposed to be a declaration of commitment, a putting to ink of our love. But seeingit now, written in Times New Roman(yours might be Palatino Linotype or Garamond, but no matter – they’re alltypewritten), “Parza” looks vaguelylifeless, an inaccurate transcriptionof our spoken affair. Read it out loudagain and you’ll understand howmuch is lost in the typing: Paarza!ParZAAH!There are irreducible ironies. For starters, we speak almost daily buthave not seen each other in over two years. The cell phone keepsus close just as plane ticket prices,immigration laws, and cultures keepus distant. We never talk about “us”anymore; we just enact the day-to-day drone of married couples. Parzais working in a bakery right now,rolling baguette loaves from 3 to 7am. I just finished a final paper for a political philosophy class. Our livesseem to exist in two different spheres,the dusty streets of Ouagadougouand the pristine halls of academia,yet our conversations are filled withquotidian banalities, hardly the stuff of star-crossed lovers. We no longer love each other exotically.Parza and I have been together for more than four years now, two of them together and two and a half of them apart. Never once has the endgoal been apparent. A counselor I sawrecently raised his eyebrow and said,“You call that a relationship? What-ever.” Somehow neither of us seemsto let the obvious questions growtoo loud: where are we going, or even more basically, what directionare we headed in? Those sounds of those questions remain, but they arereduced to a soothing hum, the purr of a well-constructed Cadillac engine.For now we just keep coasting, some-how together but viscerally apart.
’m so lucky,” I used to tell
PO Box 14332San Francisco CA 94114-4332lgbrpcv@lgbrpcv.orghttp://www.lgbrpcv.org
Editor Mike LearnedLayout Kevin H. Souza
The LGB RPCV Newsletter ispublished quarterly by the Lesbian,Gay, Bisexual RPCV Organization,an affiliate of the National PeaceCorps Association. We promotePeace Corps ideals and the legal,political and social rights of LGBTpeople throughout the world. Weencourage the submission of articlesor photographs for the newsletter.The right to use or edit materialsremains with the editor. Copyrightremains with the author. Sendsubmissions or inquiries to the abovepostal or e-mail address.
continued on page 5

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