We at ILGA would like to add our voices to those who mourn the passing of Keith Goddard. GALZ which Keith Goddard directed was the first African LGBT organization to become an ILGA member and many activists will remember Keith’s participation to ILGA campaigns and conferences.
We would like to pass on an anecdote Keith shared with us early last year.
With much respect and love,
Gloria Careaga and Renato Sabbadini.
Co-secretaries generals of ILGA
"Some time ago I found my badge for the July 1992 ILGA Conference in Paris!
It took me back years. I had joined GALZ just three months before in April; and GALZ had joined ILGA in 1991, just a few months after GALZ’s formation.
In those days I was the tour manager for a Zimbabwean music group, Black Umfolosi. In July 1992 we were on tour and based in London. Somehow I heard about the ILGA Conference in Paris and decided to go. I also decided to tell the group and the English promoter the true nature of the event. It was another step in my coming out process, and during the tour I also wrote to my mother and told her I was gay. The group was shocked; the promoter was only concerned about my returning in time. My mother freaked out. Later, Black Umfolosi were to become the first black Zimbabweans to stand up for me publicly as a gay man. My mother is now also proud of my work and even came to the staff Christmas party last year and brought some of her home-baked mince pies. The last time I had been to Paris was in 1979, when I was 18. I bought a porno magazine of naked women! I didn’t know I was gay until a year later. Arriving once more in Paris, I made my way to the address I had been given for the Conference. There was a notice outside saying that the Conference had been moved. I never did discover why, but imagined it had something to do with it being a gay meeting. I went to the new venue and queued to register. I was not on the list, but arrangements were made for me to stay with a young blond man who came to take me home to his very small flat. His English was not very good and my spoken French even worse. The next Conference day I was staggered to see a white American woman wearing a GALZ t-shirt. It turned out that she was a friend of Leigh Price in Zimbabwe, a prominent activist within GALZ. There was also a Ghanaian, or rather I remember him as Ghanaian, as it seems he came from Kenya. He disappeared after the first day or so. Although I was welcomed, I still felt very alone and inadequate. But it was also extremely exciting to be amongst so many lesbian and gay people.
I was very young in the world of LGBT activism, and I didn’t understand most of what was going on. There was a great deal of talk about twinning with groups in the South, and one session in which a heated debate took place between a member of Amnesty International and Julie Dorf, the founder of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). It seemed that AI was not yet at the stage of fully integrating gay and lesbian issues into its work, and Julie was indignant. I remembered this three years later, in 1995, just after GALZ hit the headlines when government banned us from participating in the Zimbabwe International Book Fair. Seemingly out of the blue, I was phoned one night by Casey Kelso of the Amnesty International London office. I felt extremely honoured, almost famous. He phoned for updates every day and kept in regular contact until he left AI and was replaced by Tor-Hugne Olsen. I am not sure if it is true, but I feel that the GALZ 1995 Stonewall remembrance went a long way to properly integrating LGBT issues within Amnesty International’s work.
In Paris I had a long talk with Julie Dorf. At that stage none of us in GALZ had much sense of direction. Our vague intention was to woo government into accepting that, as long as we posed no threat to others, we should be left alone. Our strategy was to emerge gradually and cautiously. She promised that IGLHRC would stay in touch and provide support, which they did from
1996 when Scott Long first contacted us.
The Paris ILGA Conference seems such a long time ago, and things have turned out very differently in Zimbabwe from what I expected. I had no idea at that time that GALZ would become such an important catalyst within the African LGBTI movement and that our President would become the world’s most famous homophobe and throw GALZ into the international limelight.
The last ILGA Conference I went to was in Geneva in 2006. This time there was a large delegation of black LGBT from all over the continent. I was also dead familiar with all the issues.
Looking back, it all seemed wickedly exciting in the early days; sometimes I miss that dangerous thrill and sense of wonder and exploration. I can’t even shock people any more by saying I’m gay: most people already know