We reached out to Isadora Barrow, Acting Secretary of Equals Barbados to share her story and speak on her work and that of other advocates and champions of the LGBTQ+ community. Here is what she had to say.
Tell us a little about life for you as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in the Caribbean.
I feel incredibly privileged to be a part of the community here in the Caribbean. There are so many amazing organizations and activists that have been doing the work for a long time and Iam deeply appreciative and inspired by them all. Here in Barbados, we have wonder women like Didi Winston whose visibility and unapologetic voice had a major impact on our culture, to the foundational work that feminists like Ro-Ann Mohammed with BGLAD to Raven Gill with Butterfly Barbados doing serious work around progressing Trans Rights, they all did their part to chip away at prejudice and bigotry to ensure our voices were heard. Before I moved back to Barbados, I watched what they and others did with hope and it inspired me to get involved in any way I could. We are also in amazing company with organizations like Tamukke, SSASOD, ECADE, and JFLAG to name a few, they have all contributed to carving out a space for us so that we can come together, organize and begin to create a better place for us all.
Tell us what inspired or motivated you to be a part of Equals organization
Equals has really grown and evolved over the years and successfully maintains its presence in the community. I got involved with the organization because I wanted to put my money where my mouth is. For a really long time, I wanted to be of service to others and lend my skills to advancing LGBT+ rights but was unsure of how to do that. Joining the organization gave me that chance to have a tangible impact especially when it comes to advocacy. We are now at a crossroads and a crucial time politically where we are able to rally and advocate for our rights, this organization is the vehicle for that advocacy and has inspired me to hope and dream for a better future.
From your perspective what is the biggest hurdle for the community?
Our biggest hurdle as a community is being able to amplify our voices and the voices of our allies to reach the people that need to be reached. Sometimes advocacy can happen in a bit of an echo chamber where we end up preaching to the choir. The people who engage with our content and advocacy efforts are already understanding the issues and why they are important. We have an enormous undertaking in terms of reaching the corners of society that don't understand how stigma and discrimination negatively impact the community. We have to be active, brave, and innovative when it comes to reaching the broader society as educating minds and changing hearts is crucial to being able to thrive.
Why is advocacy important to you?
Advocacy is important to me because it can have tangible impacts on my life and the people around me. It is definitely not something I do for fun. It can be draining, exhausting and disappointing but it wields the incredible power to transform and drive change.
How can advocacy and knowledge help promote inclusive societies?
We are in an age of so much disinformation and misinformation. We can't underestimate the impact it has on shaping impressionable minds and the damage it does to sow the seeds of division in our society. Advocacy is crucial for countering messages of bigotry and arms people with the knowledge they need for empathy and understanding. People sometimes fear what they don't understand which leads to exclusion. So, as long as that fear exists, being an advocate and sharing knowledge will always be needed
Tell us about how BLIC is supporting your organization.
This year, BLIC has provided us with the opportunity to continue to push with our sensitization efforts. Our main focus was engaging with Mental health professionals, from social workers to Psychiatrists, Psychologists, and Psychology students. BLIC has allowed us to work with these professionals to help them to better understand some of the stigma and discrimination their population experiences and give them the tools they need to serve them better. These sensitization efforts also help us to create connections with mental health professionals so that we have a growing pool of allies within the field that we can work with in the future. This work is incredibly important for addressing the mental health needs of our community as they still face many barriers every day.