Multi-faceted project aims to share encouragement and hope among LGBT people
By: Lauren Walleser/TRT Reporter–
The COLORS of Compassion project will kick off as rainbow colored prayer flags with personalized messages from the LGBT community are presented to His Holiness The Dalai Lama on May 19, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky. An internationally focused social justice initiative, the project focuses on creating and displaying flags in the tradition of Tibetan and Bhutanese prayer flags using the eight original colors of the LGBT Rainbow Flag, celebrating its 35th anniversary as a symbol of hope and empowerment for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.
“I wanted to both publicly celebrate the compassionate attributes of people in the community, as well as stand in support of LGBT people around the world who are struggling with so many forms of discrimination, hatred and violence,” said John Boswell, producer and founder of GetaVision and developer of the COLORS of Compassion project. “I really wanted a way to draw attention to both the positive, loving attributes of LGBT people, as well as the fear, persecution and struggles most of our family members live with on a daily basis.”
The project is part of the LGBT Compassion Games through Compassion Games International, an outgrowth of the TED Prize and the Charter for Compassion. The LGBT Compassion Games unites LGBT people to engage in compassionate acts, community building, civic action for social health and economic justice initiatives. The activities planned for May and June will lead up to the 11 days in September (September 11- 21) when people around the world will participate in planned activities and random acts of kindness.
“The COLORS of Compassion is celebrating the 35th anniversary of the LGBT community’s rainbow flag, but we’re doing this by focusing on what the colors were originally meant to represent,” Boswell said. “Pink and turquoise were a part of the original flag design, with pink representing sexuality and turquoise representing art or magic. Red represents life, orange is healing, yellow is light, green is nature, blue is peace and harmony, and violet represents the spirit. Combined, the rainbow flag is really a symbol of compassion.”
Boswell described the creation of rainbow prayer flags by LGBT people as a healing process through creative action and sharing. Along with these individual creations the flags will be displayed using traditional Bhutanese bamboo poles. FEARLESS, a collaborative online video and social media project, will also accompany this exhibition as it documents the power and impact of the Rainbow Flag on people and communities around the world.
“According to Tibetan and Bhutanese culture, it’s believed that the wind blows these prayers through the air to people everywhere,” Boswell said. “Unfortunately, most people in the world can only dream of the freedoms these ‘flying colors’ represent. Most can only dream of living their lives in the open.”
ERICA KAY-WEBSTER, a Stonewall Veteran, was chosen to present the flags to the Dalai Lama in Louisville in May and will also be the voice and face of the FEARLESS project. She said that when Boswell asked her to be the spokesperson, she agreed without hesitation. [pullquote]To me specifically it provides inspiration every time I see it displayed. It says to me: Erica, hang in there, keep on going, we will get there and eventually the rest of the world will catch up.[/pullquote]
“John felt that my story should be shared and that I embody the FEARLESS image, which not only demonstrates fearlessness, but most importantly will inspire and encourage others,” said Kay-Webster, who admitted she attempted suicide twice during her early years before transitioning with surgery. “It has always been my dream to live in a more compassionate and loving world. For many years of my life I struggled all alone and was frightened, believing that no one else cared. This project sends a message loud and clear to others who feel as if they are alone in their struggle.”
Gilbert Baker created the original LGBT Rainbow Flag in 1978. Kay-Webster explained what the flag means to her personally.
“The Rainbow Flag has always stood for unity and inclusion. To me specifically it provides inspiration every time I see it displayed. It says to me: Erica, hang in there, keep on going, we will get there and eventually the rest of the world will catch up. And, it reminds me that we as humans all deserve the opportunity to enjoy the pursuit of happiness in our lives. We deserve our dignity and respect as human beings. It isn’t just about being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. It is about all humans being considered equal under the constitution which guarantees equal protection under the law.”
Ultimately, she said she hopes the project will shed light on many of the problems the LGBT community faces, including suicide and youth homelessness, and unite people in finding solutions.
According to Boswell, the FEARLESS project should have an online video presence sometime during the summer, and a final production is in the works for release by December 10, Human Rights Day. For more information, visit: www.lgbtcompassiongames.org/