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Feb 5, 2015

Art Exhibition Sheds Light on Plight of LGBT Community

There is another event taking place in the city over the weekend. An exhibition entitled “My Story” opens at the image factory on Friday.  Not many L.G.B.T. persons are open about their lifestyle choices because they are sometimes shunned by society and their own families. To reduce the stigma associated with being a L.G.B.T., UNIBAM’s Caleb Orozoco sought the help of Artist Briheda Haylock to help in the sensitization process. Haylock used photographs to capture the story of the struggles of members of the L.G.B.T. community and also the triumphs of their acceptance. A short film by Shelby Castillo also drives the point home. Andrea Polanco reports.

 

Briheda Haylock, Artist

“I was on the bus once and I had my rainbow bag and if you know what the rainbow symbolize, you know what exactly my sexuality is. This girl sat next to me and saw the bag; she looked at it and moved. She was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s a lesbian.’ I felt a little hurt. That was the first time I experienced it.”

 

Andrea Polanco,Reporting

In Belize, the subjects of sexuality and gender identity are still considered taboo in some factions of society. So much so that it promotes discrimination, breeds fear and instills ignorance. But artist Briheda Haylock is using her creative talents as a platform to encourage inclusiveness and to remove the labels attached to members of the LGBT community. Her artistic pieces captured moments and wove them into this exhibition call ‘My Story.’

 

Briheda Haylock

Briheda Haylock

“The show is about highlighting the LGBT Community and what they go through or what their journey is with self discovery. It’s not the same. Everyone has their own journey. Being part of the LGBT Community is a different issue because it has been highly exaggerated as wrong. Today what I have done is shown you in an abstract and literal way what it is to be an LGBT person coming out or in the closet; showing you what we face and when we have acceptance how things are for us.”

 

 

The people in ‘My Story’ represent different parts of society; after all, Haylock says they are just like you and me. But many are not open about their lifestyle because they lack support and they fear discrimination and rejection, which she aptly captures in the ‘Paper Bag’ installment:

 

Briheda Haylock

The journey was very touching because everyone has a different story. What was common in all of these stories was ignorance and also when acceptance came how life was much easier for them Yeah. Different parts of society. They are social workers. They are business men. Doctors. Students. I went to Orange Walk. Some people I met were from Cayo and some are from the city. It starts with the My Story series which is people who have paper bags which is people who have paper bags. The reason why identity was an issue throughout this process is because it is a very touchy subject and discrimination is real and if you know what’s like, you know you don’t want it and I decide to put paper bags over the head and with the stories given to me, I wrote them on the paper bag, capturing the image of the paper bag. I just want people to see that it isn’t easy at all. It is the hardest thing to think of or go through and then as you go on it says, “My lifestyle isn’t hurting anyone, but ignorance is.’ And that is what an LGBT person faces every day.”

 

Animator Shelby Castillo used his short film to bring some of the experiences to life. His video shows not just the difficulties, but also the difference that support and acceptance make in the life of a LGBT person:

 

Shelby Castillo, Animator

“Well, the film is a three part progress: a person coming out in society and being rejected and then treated as an outcast, but then finding family to love and support them.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“What was your inspiration behind it? Is it a true story from someone you know or is just something that you think needs to be told?”

 

Shelby Castillo

“I think it is something that needs to be told. I cannot relate to it, but I can make comparisons. Like being treated as an outcast is almost being treated as a monster and I used concepts of that and put it in my film.”

 

Although it’s an animated film, the stories and inspiration are real. The hope is that the exhibition will serve as an impetus for the LGBT community:

 

Briheda Haylock

“I would want to spark more security, like even for heterosexuals and homosexuals. There are many people who are afraid of showing who they are. This is not an easy journey because of all the discrimination. For heterosexuals, if they would want to stop that narrow-minded mentality that they have.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Did their stories change your perspective of the way society views the LGBT community?”

Briheda Haylock

“Yes. Personally, I don’t face a lot of discrimination but other people get it on a different level. For me that was heartbreaking and other stories they made me want to cry. And the families were so accepting seeing that my family struggles with it, so its mixed emotions.”

 

Andrea Polanco reporting for News Five.

 

The exhibition is sponsored by UNIBAM and Canada Fund Local for Initiatives.

 

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1 Response for “Art Exhibition Sheds Light on Plight of LGBT Community”

  1. Mike says:

    It is sad what outsiders are doing attacking the traditional culture of Belize.

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