Who We Are
KOURAJ is a group of masisi activists, created to politicize other homosexuals and transgender persons in Haiti regarding their fundamental human rights. Faced with other organizations and programs working with this traditionally defined « vulnerable group » or « marginalized persons » – an ineffective concept imposed on members of the masisi community by outsiders – KOURAJ seeks to empower homosexuals and transgender persons in order to reinforce a veritable masisi community in the country. KOURAJ is convinced that will be ready for change only when the masisi community itself – not foreign organizations working « with » the community – decides that Haitian society is ready for change in the form of a Haitian rights-based movement.
We define « masisi » as all persons who were, are, or will be potentially or actually discriminated against and/or stigmatized due to his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. Today, « masisi » is a universal stigmatizing and derogatory term used by Haitians against us. We thus will use this force of stigma to unite us and to transform this insult into pride. Other insults exist, yet we have chosen to speak to the « masisi » community, which includes lesbians, gays, bisexuals, intersex persons, transgenders, transsexuals, and all other persons who do no correspond to the cultural heterosexual norm violently imposed on us by Haitian society.
The five founding members of KOURAJ are the first Haitian masisi living in Haiti who are ready to take the risk to be publicly out in the media.
« We wish to propose an alternative discourse on homosexuality in Haiti because since too long have only homophobes discuss our reality and propose their own interpretation, » reports Charlot Jeudy, the president of the Executive Committee of KOURAJ.
The necessity for KOURAJ’s existence was reinforced by the experiences lived by the masisi community following the January 12th earthquake, who were accused of having caused this disaster as divine punishment for their mortal sins. This supplementary stigmatization was yet another one added to the list of discrimination and violence to which they are already subjected daily.
KOURAJ is a political organization led by an Executive Committee of five leaders. The President and Vice President of the Executive Committee must share with transparency their ideas publicly with the masisi community. A General Assembly of members meets once a month, and is charged with elections of the Executive Committee each year. All decisions made by the Executive Committee are submitted for vote in the General Assembly, and all members of KOURAJ present during these meetings can propose actions, ideas, or projects, and also may vote to mandate the Executive Committee to take certain defined actions. This permanent democratization of the organization seeks to promote at the heart of the masisi community in general a spirit of citizenship, which is a necessary political engagement, a feeling of solidarity, and the sharing of an ideal: a Haiti in which masisi will no longer be neither discriminated against nor stigmatized.
Before challenging homophobic discourse, members of the community itself must themselves finally decide to stop thinking that nothing will ever change in Haiti. KOURAJ’s leaders, conscious of the many risks they take by publicly affirming who they are, want to show a different path of pride for everyone. The single most important objective of KOURAJ as a political organization is none other than to bring to Haitian civil society a discourse produced by the masisi community, about the masisi community, and for the masisi community.
For all those who think Haiti is not ready, starting with members of the masisi community, KOURAJ has already begun this fundamental societal change through action. We cannot wait any longer!