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Sridhar Rangayan – My Film is Not Just a Coming Out Film, It’s a Film About the Subjugation Women Face in Patriarchal Societies
Sridhar Rangayan pictured at Salzburg Global Seminar in 2015 during the first-ever program of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum
Sridhar Rangayan – My Film is Not Just a Coming Out Film, It’s a Film About the Subjugation Women Face in Patriarchal Societies
Oscar Tollast 
Sridhar Rangayan has given a voice to social issues in India for more than two decades. The filmmaker, writer, activist, and festival director has won multiple awards all over the world and is someone at the forefront of the queer cinema movement. Earlier this year, he presented at TEDxNITKSurathkal, at his alumni college, discussing his journey to coming out proud and accepting his individuality. Rangayan, a participant at the first ever program of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, recently spoke with Salzburg Global to discuss his latest film. Salzburg Global spoke with Rangayan prior to India’s Supreme Court overturning a colonial-era law known as section 377 – a victory for India’s LGBT community. This decision has decriminalized same-sex sexual relations between consenting adults in private. Following this historic ruling, Rangayan got in touch with Salzburg Global again to add his thoughts. Rangayan said, “The Supreme Court verdict reading down the colonial law Sec 377, and thereby decriminalizing same-sex sexual relations between two consenting adults in private, is a historic decision by the highest court in India. The judgement far exceeded our expectations - the wordings in the judgement by all the judges, and also the firewalls they have built so no one can challenge the decision ever - these made the entire LGBTQ community very elated. It is still sinking in, that we are now living in a free India and not considered criminals because of our sexual orientation. It would impact the coming generations of LGBTQ youth and pave way for other rights - marriage rights, inheritance and adoption rights. “The change in law is just the first step, because in India we have to work towards changing social mindsets. We would have to put into motion numerous advocacy projects and my work is cut out to make more films like Evening Shadows and fight to have them seen by a large audience.” The Q&A with Rangayan below has been edited for length and clarity. Salzburg Global: Can you explain the thought process behind Evening Shadows and what inspired the story? Sridhar Rangayan: We always felt that there was no mainstream film that youngsters can show their parents as a means of helping them understand their true feelings and also for families to understand more about their LGBTQ children… Evening Shadows is a personal story of one family that is coming to terms with the challenges of acceptance, but the story is universal in its sensibility and emotional reach. The film is more than a coming out film. It is about a woman steeped in traditions and conservative social mores, standing up for her son against all the odds. Evening Shadows is a film of hope and courage. The film has been made with a simple, heartfelt narrative with no auteur flourishes so it can appeal to a large family audience in India and across the world.
SG: When did the thought emerge to push ahead with the project and how long did it take to film? SR: Fortuitously, our first film The Pink Mirror (Gulabi Aaina) made in 2002 got sold to Netflix, and we came into some money which we decided to invest in Evening Shadows… Then we started crowdfunding for the project. We received amazing support from 180-plus contributors across the world. This support gave us the necessary impetus to push forward with the production of the film. It took us about a year and a half to complete production and post-production. It was really amazing to get permission to shoot at the places we had visualized the film being set – the charming small town, the riverbank, the centuries-old temples… excavated from under the sand, the roads winding between paddy fields… some of them being archaeological monuments, which is a treat for the audiences… SG: Regarding the feedback you’ve received so far, has there been a particular review that’s stood out or a comment that’s been made which has been stuck in your mind? SR: The screening of Evening Shadows at KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival in May 2018 was one of the most amazing. It was the closing film, and it was a home audience, but the reaction far exceeded our expectations. There were some 1,100 people in the theater, and they clapped, cheered, cried, and emotionally reacted to almost every dialogue in the film. It was an uproar, a rollercoaster of emotions that crescendoed and filled the huge art deco theater. It gave us all goosebumps; it still does. Another very touching moment was - though sad - when a young Indian youth came up to me after the screening at Toronto and said, “I wish my mother was as understanding and accepting as the mother in your film. I have come out to her three years ago, and she hasn’t accepted me yet.” He hugged me and cried. I tried to assure him that Bollywood films have happy endings in a short span of time, but in life, happy endings may take a long time. I asked him to continue conversations with his mother gently and keep his hopes up. SG: What messages do you hope audience members will take away from Evening Shadows? SR: Evening Shadows is not just a coming out film of a gay youth, but also a film about the subjugation a woman faces within a patriarchal society… believe me, a dominant patriarchal mindset exists not only in Asian countries but also in many other cultures. The film is as much about women empowerment as it is about LGBTQ right to love. Most of the audience members are taking back this message, and we are glad. We would also like to underline the idea that the film is about the divide between two generations and their thoughts and ideas; how so many misunderstandings can arise from not accepting others’ points of view. SG: Congratulations on the awards you’ve won for the film. What does it mean to have the film recognized and celebrated in different parts of the world? SR: The awards are recognition of the narrative and technical excellence of our film Evening Shadows. They do mean a lot to the entire team as all of us have put in hard work and passion into this film. But the feedback and reactions by the audiences across the world have been the best awards we will always treasure. From an 80-year-old gay man in Kansas City, who has had an uphill struggle coming out in the ‘30s, to a young 18-year-old boy in Bengaluru who still faces similar challenges in India, the smiles, the tears and the hugs they have given are the best awards one can aspire for… the highest award is the thanks expressed by parents of LGBTQ children who watch the film and decide to embrace the child. SG: When creating the film, was facilitating Sweekar – The Rainbow Parents support group something you anticipated doing? SR: Evening Shadows, being a film about a son coming out and the challenges his mother faces in understanding him, the focus was always about the film being a support to parents and families. Facilitating a support group was a natural extension of this mission. Even when we began crowdfunding the film’s production, we had mentioned that we would earmark 10 percent of the money we raise to support the formation of a parents’ group… even as we progressed with the production of the film, we started the process of facilitating the group. The Sweekar – The Rainbow Parents’ group – started off with a first-of-its-kind closed door daylong structured workshop with parents to chalk out what they thought were the challenges faced by parents and how a support group can help address these. The aims and objectives of the group and its mission statement emerged from this workshop formulated by the parents themselves. SG: Please could you tell us about your experience at the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum. What can you remember from your program, and what impact did it have on you? SR: My participation at the first-ever Salzburg Global LGBT Forum program in 2013 couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. It was a time when I had founded the KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival and was building a good foundation for the festival, which now over nine years has become not only South Asia’s biggest LGBTQ film festival but also an important mainstream event in Mumbai’s cultural calendar. Some of the ideas that all of us participants shared brought in a focus for the work I was doing. It also brought a lot of clarity to the two LGBTQ documentary films I was working on – Purple Skies and Breaking Free. Purple Skies about the Indian LBT community was completed in 2014 and went to play at many festivals and, more importantly, became the first-ever lesbian-themed film to be shown on Doordarshan, India’s national television network. My other film, Breaking Free, about the law section 377 and the Indian LGBT community was completed in 2015 and, among several awards, also won the National Award for Best Editing from the Government of India. These couldn’t have been possible but for the learnings at the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum about how important it is to work with the governments, policymakers, and stakeholders – instead of trying to work in opposition. The diversity of the participants and the spectrum of the experiences make the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum unique and very useful in formulating a broader view of LGBTQ movements across the world. The other learning was about the intersectionality of religion and sexuality, which many participants from different faiths expressed so clearly at the program – how it is important to synergize the two so as to lead a fulfilling and peaceful life. This learning will form the basis of my next feature film Songs of Eternal Love… of course, most importantly, the amazing location of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum offered a tranquil atmosphere to meditate upon one’s work and more crucially about one’s life.
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Salzburg Global Fellow Cha Roque Wins Amnesty International Award
Cha Roque speaking at Salzburg Global Seminar
Salzburg Global Fellow Cha Roque Wins Amnesty International Award
Oscar Tollast 
Salzburg Global Fellow Cha Roque has spoken of her delight after winning one of Amnesty International Philippines’ first-ever human rights awards. Roque, a multi-time Fellow of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, was recently awarded an Ignite Award for Art that Matters for Film. She was one of four winners recognized as human rights defenders bringing about impact through their work by changing peoples’ lives. Other categories included Most Distinguished Human Rights Defender – Individual, Most Distinguished Human Rights Defender – Organization, and Outstanding Young Human Rights Defender. This is the first awarding season of the Ignite Awards for Human Rights. The awards aim to accord human rights defenders with the highest regard for the work they do and serve as a tool by showing ordinary people can do extraordinary work. Speaking with Salzburg Global, Roque said, “I was literally in disbelief when I found out about being nominated… I am more of an advocacy filmmaker, and my films haven’t been making the rounds in local, big festivals. I also know a lot of other advocacy filmmakers whom I look up to, and I believe that their years in making advocacy films makes them more deserving… nonetheless, I felt very honored to be nominated and to win the award.” Some of Roque’s notable films include Slay, What I Would’ve Told My Daughter if I Knew What to Say Back Then, and Hapag (Dining Table). Roque said, “In my LGBT-themed films, I wanted to tell the audience that LGBT people are the same as everyone else. My films are always focused on the exposition that as humans, we share the same sentiments, the same heartbreaks, the same joys, [and] the same hopes. “My LGBT-themed films have always been a reflection of my triumphs and struggles as a lesbian mom, and I wanted to use film to make people realize that we are not different from them and that we deserve the same rights that other people have. “For my other films, which are also mostly political and about my advocacies, I wanted to emphasize how art and film are powerful in advocacies and how they can make a difference in the way people see things.” Roque sat down with Sudeshan Reddy at the Salzburg Global program, The Many Faces of LGBT Inclusion, in October 2016, to discuss her experience as a filmmaker. She revealed the responsibility she felt she had telling the stories of fellow LGBT people.
Commenting on this program, Roque said, “It was during my first Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, in Chiang Rai, when I realized how much my films can make an impact. I have always believed that art and advocacy are very powerful when combined, but I’ve had doubts about my own films. Salzburg made me realize that my voice is as important as the voice of award-winning filmmakers. It was actually just months after that Forum when I made four films.” In addition to this program, Roque visited Salzburg Global last summer to take part in the Forum’s follow-on program, Home: Safety, Wellness, and Belonging. Roque said she had met very inspiring people who have influenced her as a person and filmmaker. Roque said, “Seeing people who share the same energy towards issues I strongly believe in motivated me to keep on making films - no matter how difficult. I did not only learn a lot from the Forum, [but] I also gained new friends who I still communicate and collaborate with until now. “Salzburg also opened doors to a lot of opportunities for me - from meeting like-minded people to having my film premiere in the session in Austria. It is just right that I share my award with my Salzburg Fellows because I wouldn't be the person and filmmaker I am now if I have not been exposed to them.” Reflecting on her latest award, Roque said, “As an advocate and as an artist, there are times when I question myself and get tired of what I do. This award is yet another reminder for me on why I make films, why I tell stories. This served as an inspiration and also a challenge to keep on making films that will tell about [the] triumphs and struggles of people.” Roque is now raising funds for her next LGBT-themed film entitled White TransLady. It is an experimental film about a transwoman who gets discriminated in the afterlife and finds a family in the most unexpected place. You can get in touch with her and learn more about her films through her website.
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Salzburg Global Fellow Danny Ramadan Wins Canadian Authors Book Award
Salzburg Global Fellow Danny Ramadan Wins Canadian Authors Book Award
Salzburg Global Seminar 
Salzburg Global Fellow Danny Ramadan has received another accolade for his latest book, The Clothesline Swing. Ramadan, who has previously attended two programs of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, recently won the 2018 Fred Kerner Book Award, which is given each year by the Canadian Authors Association. This tale takes place during the aftermath of the Arab Spring and tells the story of two lovers anchored to the memory of a dying Syria. The book has already been widely acclaimed and was named among the Best Books of 2017 by the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. It also received an Independent Publisher Gold Medal in the category of LGBT Fiction. Ramadan is a a Syrian-Canadian author, storyteller and LGBTQ refugees activist. Born in Syria, Ramadan moved to Vancouver, Canada in September 2014. During the Salzburg Global program, The Many Faces of LGBT Inclusion, Ramadan discussed his experiences as a gay refugee and his search to find a place to belong. After winning his latest award, Salzburg Global caught up with Danny to discuss his reaction, the messages he wants his readers to take away, and his experience as a Fellow of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum. Read our Q&A below. SG: Congratulations on winning the Fred Kerner Book Award. What were your first thoughts when you found out you had won? DR: I was completely floored when I found out I won that award. Being recognized for my art is the highest form of recognition I can think of. It says that my art, despite it being about characters on the margins, and being an unconventional form of storytelling, can still hold value in my new community here in Canada. SG: Was it a surprise to be featured on the shortlist? Did you have any expectations when you first published the book? DR: When I published the book, I wished the best for it but knew that my expectations might be too high. I'm thankful the book won this award, and one more award, as well as was featured in multiple shortlists and best books of 2017 lists. It honestly came as both a confirmation that I'm on the right track and a surprise that my work as an author can hold value for others who don't necessarily share the same lived experiences with me.   SG: What was the drive behind writing a book and how did you find that process? Is it a skill that came naturally to you? DR: I have always thought of myself as an author. If we queer people are superheroes, my superpower was my ability to write. It always felt natural and comfortable for me to write. If anything, my storytelling skills are the reason I managed to leave a mark in all aspects of my life as an activist or a journalist. I was driven to write this book because there were stories that I found unique to the experiences of queer Syrian refugees that I believed should be told, and I didn't even know if those stories will be read by anyone else other than me, so having this opportunity for those stories to be shared means the world to me. SG: What message(s) do you want readers to take away from The Clothesline Swing? DR: I think the main message behind the story of The Clothesline Swing is that there is a lot of resilience in the spirits of queer refugees everywhere. Their stories are not that of hardship, but also of survival and finding love and being true to who they are; as well as finding paths to accomplish their dreams both as humans but also as humans who are marginalized and second-rate in many communities around the world. SG: You’ve received excellent feedback so far, but has there been a particular piece of feedback or a review you’ve received that sticks in your mind? DR: Being shortlisted for the Lambda awards was a highlight in my life and the best accomplishment I've ever managed to achieve. I've known about the awards since I was a unique fella back in Syria, and I dreamed one day of winning one. I can now say I was shortlisted for that prestigious award and who knows, maybe I win it with my next book. SG: How would you describe your experience as a participant of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum? What impact has it had on you? DR: How to describe a life-changing event that truly affected me positively throughout the years it followed? This is too difficult. I have met folks that I learned so much from, and people that I connected with on spiritual and meaningful ways. I've seen stories unfold in front of my eyes on the panels that means so much to me. I'm a witness for this Forum, and it made me a better person for sure. Danny Ramadan has attended two Salzburg Global programs. This includes The Many Faces of LGBT Inclusion (2016) and Home: Safety, Wellness, and Belonging (2017).
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Salzburg Global President's Report 2018
Salzburg Global President's Report 2018
Louise Hallman 
“How does a relatively small but influential NGO help shape a better world? That is the question Salzburg Global Seminar set out to answer as we entered our 70th anniversary year,” explains Salzburg Global President & CEO, Stephen L. Salyer in this year’s edition of the Salzburg Global Chronicle.  Founded in 1947, Salzburg Global Seminar has the mission to challenge current and future leaders to shape a better world. Our multi-year program series aim to bridge divides, expand collaboration and transform systems.  Features This year’s edition of the Salzburg Global Chronicle puts forth this renewed mission and strategic framework of the 70-year-old organization through a series of features and mini profiles of our Fellows and their projects. A Positive Space in a Polarizing World From Students to Statesmen Combined Efforts, Maximum Effect  From Ideas to Impact Radical Reinvention From Local to Global Campaign The Chronicle also announced the launch of Salzburg Global’s largest-ever fundraising campaign. Inspiring Leadership: The Campaign for Salzburg Global Seminar will seek to raise $18 million over the next three years to expand our scholarship program, invest in developing innovative solutions to complex problems and secure this organization and our historic home of Schloss Leopoldskron for generations to come.  “Campaigns are about vision. They support critical, compelling and transformational priorities,” states Salyer. “The Campaign Inspiring Leadership  — gift by gift, investment by investment — will empower people, policies, and placemaking that can transform the world.”  For the Love of Humankind From Scholarships to Schloss Renovations Yearbook Now in its fifth year, this year’s Chronicle is for the first time accompanied by a “Yearbook.” As Clare Shine, Salzburg Global Vice President and Chief Program Officer explains: “Our 2017 Yearbook draws these rich strands together. It provides an overview of our activities and partnerships in Salzburg and around the world, highlighting our multi-year program goals and the concrete outcomes driving short and longer-term impact. We wish you good reading and look forward to working with you in the future.” Download the Yearbook (PDF) You can read all the stories and download both sections of the 2018 President’s Report on the dedicated webpage: www.SalzburgGlobal.org/chronicle/2018 
 
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Building a Global Community - Salzburg Global LGBT Forum: The First Five Years
Building a Global Community - Salzburg Global LGBT Forum: The First Five Years
Louise Hallman 
Since 1947, Salzburg Global Seminar has challenged current and future leaders to shape a better world. For seventy years, our Fellows have tackled issues of global concern including education, health, environment, economics, governance, peace-building, the rule of law and protection of human rights.  Since 2013, the advancement of LGBT human rights has joined that list of issues as we seek to shape a better world for everyone – including people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Founded five years ago, the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum was formed to establish a truly global space to reflect upon and advance LGBT human rights discussions around the world.  Today, the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum is an international network that connects over 150 Fellows in 70 countries across six continents, spanning multiple sectors, generations, cultures and sexual orientations and gender identities. This new, 200-page publication, Building a Global Community - Salzburg Global LGBT Forum: The First Five Years, chronicles the first five years of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum: the Fellows’ stories that they’ve shared, the wide-ranging issues we’ve addressed, and the impact the Forum has had on individuals, institutions and ideas advancing LGBT human rights around the world. The report was generously supported by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.  “Fundamental human rights concern us all. The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum brings together queer and straight, representing gender in many expressions, in short: people with overlapping, changing identities. Whether homo-, bi- or heterosexual, cis-, inter- or transgender, our diverse backgrounds and lives are connected by our shared interest to advance LGBT equality globally.” — Dr. Klaus Mueller, Founder and Chair, Salzburg Global LGBT Forum “Throughout Salzburg Global’s history, the rule of law and protection of human rights have played a central role in our programming and impact – as critical elements for personal dignity and wellbeing, equality and social cohesion, successful economies and effective international relations. With this track record, the decision to create the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum was a natural and logical, yet bold, step.” — Clare Shine, Vice President and Chief Program Officer, Salzburg Global Seminar “I am extremely proud of how the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum has advanced human rights... Public understanding and public policy have advanced considerably, but the challenges across the world remain great. The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum is a place where they can be addressed.” — Stephen L. Salyer, President and Chief Executive Officer, Salzburg Global Seminar “For our ministry, it has been very important to support the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum financially… For us, it is important to make visible these different situations as they exist in Europe and in other parts of the world, and this includes discussing the problems too. We learn from the LGBT Forum how discussions in Germany influence other countries, and how their discussions in other countries influence us in Germany.” — Ralf Kleindiek, German State Secretary for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth Download the report as a PDF
* LGBT: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. We are using this term as it is widely recognized in many parts of the world, but we would not wish it to be read as in any way exclusive of other cultures, groups or terms, either historical or contemporary.
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Salzburg Global LGBT Forum - Building a Global Community
Clare Shine with Salzburg Global LGBT Fellows, Negede Gezahegn and Noël Iglessias, Salzburg Global LGBT Founder and Chair, Klaus Mueller, and Salzburg Global Vice President Benjamin Glahn.
Salzburg Global LGBT Forum - Building a Global Community
Clare Shine 
Since 1947, Salzburg Global Seminar has challenged current and future leaders to solve issues of global concern. Founded in the aftermath of war at a precarious time in world history, Salzburg Global’s young founders imagined a “Marshall Plan of the Mind” – a frontier initiative to regenerate intellectual and cultural exchange and lay the building blocks for peaceful and flourishing societies.Fast forward 70 years and Salzburg Global has an unbroken track record of connecting change-makers across sectors, regions and generations. Over 30,000 Fellows from 170 countries have come together through our multi-year programs to tackle complex problems and advance leadership and innovation for a better world, and our expanding network of partners has built alliances for systems transformation. Throughout Salzburg Global’s history, the rule of law and protection of human rights have played a central role in our programming and impact – as critical elements for personal dignity and wellbeing, equality and social cohesion, successful economies and effective international relations. With this track record, the decision to create the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum was a natural and logical, yet bold, step.In 2013, LGBT rights were rising fast up the international agenda. Yet governments in 78 countries – around 40 percent of the world’s nations – continued to legitimize and sponsor violence again their LGBT citizens. LGBT discrimination was becoming an issue in globalization, affecting freedom of movement and enterprise. The Forum set out to support better understanding of this evolving moral, legal, social and political landscape and to create a safe, neutral platform for exchange between decisive global voices, bridging the worlds of politics, law, diplomacy, creative arts, religion and media.Much has changed since 2013. Many countries have seen LGBT progress in family law, court judgments, school policies and corporate diversity. In 2015, 193 countries committed to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals that apply to all people without discrimination and to “leave no one behind.” Yet, despite this ambition, basic rights related to family, housing, health, employment and safety are still threatened or non-existent for LGBT people and communities in many parts of the world. Being truly “at home” remains out of reach for LGBT individuals excluded from their families, cultures or countries. Salzburg Global Seminar seeks to drive impact at three levels: individuals, institutions and ideas. This is embedded in the Forum’s design and in our new reflective publication, Salzburg Global LGBT Forum - Building a Global Community. Download the report as a PDFThe Forum enables outstanding people to share deeply personal stories away from the limelight, forge new strategies and build greater resilience. Some of their stories are woven into this report and can also be found on our website lgbt.salzburgglobal.orgOur Forum sessions in Salzburg, Berlin and Chiang Rai have enabled partners from government and civil society to explore root causes and regional, cultural and societal dynamics that underpin continuing discrimination, helping them better understand ways to advance policies and practice. You can read about how we have contributed to these new alliances and partnerships in Building International Connections and Alliances and Engaging with Governments & Institutions. The Forum supports thought leadership through a rich mix of film and cultural products, policy contributions and year-round exchange. In Telling Our Own Stories we profile some of the influencers and creative artists who have been involved in the Forum network since 2013. You can also read testimonials from dozens of our Fellows throughout the report.We are proud to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum and salute the dedication of its Founder and Chair Klaus Mueller, our Fellows from now 70 countries, our partners and our staff. Together, they have made these achievements possible. Salzburg Global Seminar is committed to advance the Sustainable Development Goals through our program portfolio and our network activities around the world. We believe that continued leadership and action for LGBT equality, wellbeing and family rights are fundamental to this aim and look forward to expanding the Forum’s global contribution in the years to come. Creating Impact Defining Family Seeking Safety Addressing Trans Issues Telling Our Own Stories Building International Connections & Alliances Engaging with Governments & Institutions Looking Forward
* LGBT: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. We are using this term as it is widely recognized in many parts of the world, but we would not wish it to be read as in any way exclusive of other cultures, groups or terms, either historical or contemporary.
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A Journey Into Uncharted Territory
Klaus Mueller, Founder and Chair of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum opens the first session in 2013 – LGBT and Human Rights: New Challenges,
A Journey Into Uncharted Territory
Klaus Mueller 
I would like to profoundly thank Salzburg Global Seminar for embracing LGBT equality as a topic of global concern and for wholeheartedly supporting the idea to create the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum five years ago. This has been a journey into uncharted territory, and without Salzburg Global’s expertise in convening global gatherings and catalyzing collaboration, the Forum would not have grown to what it has become today – a network of over 150 Fellows from 70 countries. Our Origins The idea seemed right and worthy from the beginning: to help advance LGBT equality worldwide through a global forum of LGBT human rights defenders and supporters from many different countries, backgrounds, and disciplines. But the question remained: was there a need? Seeking answers, and over the course of two years, we dedicated ourselves to understanding how we could best support these efforts before the Forum’s inaugural session in 2013. I personally first learned about the power of a truly global gathering in 2000 when I participated in a visionary Salzburg Global session, Museums in the 21st Century, chaired by Marc Pachter, of The Smithsonian Institution, which expanded my horizons and fueled my writing on museums. Ten years later, in 2010, Salzburg Global invited me to take on an expanded role and serve as chair for their multi-year initiative on Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention to be developed in cooperation with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, for which I serve as the Museum’s European Representative. This new role inspired and encouraged me to approach Salzburg Global independently in 2011 with the proposal to create a Global LGBT Forum to be jointly developed and hosted at Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg Global Seminar’s home. For the past thirty years, I have been working on issues at the intersection of LGBT human rights, history, memory, and culture, having started as an activist, focusing on the LGBT identity in the 19th century in my doctoral thesis, and later curating exhibitions, and writing and engaging in film productions. In developing the idea for the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum, I recognized that in the rapidly globalizing world of the 21st century, LGBT human rights no longer seemed to be defined only by regional histories and cultures (if they ever were in the first place), but that they were increasingly shaped through global conversations, whether progressive or hostile. Together with Salzburg Global, I conceived the Forum as a safe space to curate a truly global conversation on LGBT equality among diverse leaders from human rights, legal, artistic, and religious backgrounds. Free expressions of sexuality and gender define the societies in which we want to live in the 21st century, and our strength is rooted in our diversity. In launching the Forum, we were entering new ground – from building new donor partnerships (thank you for your trust!) to curating a genuinely inclusive gathering where all would feel welcome and valued. We invited participants as the individuals they are, not as the representative of the institutions, NGOs or governments with which they are affiliated. In addition to being experts in their respective fields, they also brought their life experiences to our sessions. Finally, in 2013, it was their voice that answered our original question: They told us that yes, there is a strong need and desire to develop a global, yet personal network – a network of trust that enables us to listen to each other and to join forces through diverse forms of collaboration and support. While communication across borders becomes ever more accessible through the internet, trust needs time. The Forum is not a conference. It has become a safe space, our retreat, where we come together in person to comprehend the global interconnectedness of LGBT human rights, including progress and challenges. While we come from different places, cultures, histories and generations, we share commonalities in our views and experiences. But the Forum also provides a setting to acknowledge and explore our distinct personal, cultural, economic and religious differences. We come to listen, to learn, and to build connections. As with all Salzburg Global Seminar programs, our Forum strives to be a space where participants are “tough on the issues but kind to each other.”Our Progress Over the past five years, we have formed a growing network of expertise. In 2013, we started with participants from 34 countries and set our course with the Statement of the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum: Advancing human rights for LGBT people and communities. This framework of principles and priorities continues to guide our intersectional approach and lead themes. In 2014, the German Federal Foreign Office invited us to Berlin to advise them on strengthening relations between embassies and LGBT human rights groups. In 2015, we returned to Salzburg and started our “Family is…” project with the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, collecting testimonies for our global portrait of families today – ultimately producing over 40 video interviews and a short film Family is...? A Global Conversation, which we released this year. In 2016, our first meeting in Asia took us to the small city of Chiang Rai, Thailand, to listen to and learn from a new generation of Asian leaders. This last year we gathered again at Schloss Leopoldskron with the focus on “Home” and refugees, collecting testimonies and strengthening our sense of a global community that has grown with each session. As a network, we have developed the global perspectives that guide us year-round. It has been a steep learning curve, reacting to both crisis and progress, and little did we know how we would be challenged and changed in the process. The Forum’s meetings are not easy: there is both risk and comfort in bringing people from very different contexts together and striving to deepen understanding and trust. We increasingly recognize that LGBT rights as a concept expresses the aspiration and hope of a common cause even as our struggles are distinct. Sharing personal stories helps us to understand each other’s needs and worlds more fully. Many Forum members are exceptionally strong leaders, bold activists and visionary artists and thinkers. Yet for some, it was the first time in their lives that they found a community where they felt they could share their personal story with others. So many shared stories come to mind. We have been deeply moved by the strength of our two Ethiopian friends, Noël and Negede, who joined the Forum anonymously in 2015, and returned in 2017 as asylum seekers in Austria to build a new life. We were proud when Kasha Nabagesera from Uganda, who has come to all Forum sessions since 2013, appeared on the cover of TIME magazine. We were inspired by the amazing photographers, film directors and writers who introduced us to the realities of LGBT lives around the globe: of indigenous trans communities in the Venezuelan jungle, of a Filipino mother/filmmaker and her daughter, of LGBT families in Cambodia and of transgender communities in Mongolia. They showed us that one fiercely independent voice can make these lives – our lives – visible. More and more, we help each other with our projects and find ways to share them with larger audiences. Fundamental human rights concern us all. The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum brings together queer and straight, representing gender in many expressions, in short: people with overlapping, changing identities. Whether homo-, bi- or heterosexual, cis-, inter- or transgender, our diverse backgrounds and lives are connected by our shared interest to advance LGBT equality globally. Since the Forum was launched in 2013, the world has witnessed the journey of communities and nations towards recognition of LGBT human rights and celebrated significant progress. Yet in many countries, we have been confronted with backlashes and many governments still legitimize and sponsor violence against LGBT citizens through legal discrimination, condoned police violence and hate speech. Our Forum has therefore expanded to build larger networks of support with government partners, international bodies and human rights and cultural organizations. Increasingly we are approached as a trusted facilitator for global conversations. Today Being part of an emerging global community has changed us. Salzburg Global Seminar has become our home and itself has been changed in the process. Celebrating our fifth anniversary in the same year that Salzburg Global marks its 70th anniversary, the Forum is fully integrated within the major global programs in which Salzburg Global is engaged. All Salzburg Global’s staff have gone the proverbial extra mile, again and again, to help us reach our goals; enabled and guided by vice presidents Clare Shine and Benjamin Glahn, and with support from Salzburg Global president Stephen Salyer and former chief program officer and senior advisor Edward Mortimer. With 2017 being a year of retrospection for Salzburg Global Seminar, we too looked back and unearthed untold stories that were shared at our fifth session this summer. This was archaeology of a different kind – a “Queering of the Schloss,” an acknowledgment that LGBT people have contributed to the history of Salzburg Global and to the earlier history of Schloss Leopoldskron in the time of Max Reinhardt, its pre-war owner and co-founder of the Salzburg Festival. We learned about early beginnings, important voices, surprising guests. One discovery was made by anthropologist Saskia Wieringa in 2013, who realized that the statues in Schloss Leopoldskron’s Chinese Room were of the East Asian transgender deity Guanyin – a feature overlooked for almost a century. Her presence gave us an early sense of belonging as a protective deity for our endeavor.  Historically, we know that LGBT-related stories were often suppressed or omitted. Our desire for a more inclusive and humane future also fuels our desire to reintegrate LGBT lives into a fuller understanding of our history. Both our history and our future have to be written by ourselves. The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum is a fluid network that fully trusts its Fellows’ imagination and leadership to advance LGBT equality globally. As with other histories of prejudice, we know that homo- and transphobia will not disappear, but we hope they will in many places have less tragic consequences. Klaus Mueller on why now is the time to create a Global LGBT Forum
Klaus Mueller on how the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum has grown
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