The Fellowship’s journey needs to be welcoming and happy. Recently, the Friendship committee established a wish list expecting to improve the members’ experience. Honouring the past leaders and their legacy, we grew during the Pandemic, we reached more countries and made an online House of Friendship at the Rotary Convention. Now it’s time to understand who we are and what we need to show up a diverse and inclusive Fellowship!
President Grant and the board set goals for this Rotary Year with a vision that the work must come from as many countries as possible and allowing safe spaces to each member. From the beginning the Friendship Committee discussed those targets and chose teams to roll out this:
- Global Advisory Team to increase worldwide engagement:
- terms of reference for the group (i.e., what would they do?).
- consider “categories” of social gatherings or “safe spaces” for different groups of people to communicate – i.e., trans and gender diverse, lesbians, people of colour, etc.
- Work to increase our worldwide reach – we have significant gaps in Europe and Africa.
- “Pathways” to support people worldwide facing oppression because they are LGBT+
- Develop a LGBT+ Fellowship Travel Network
- Develop an Awards Program to celebrate people who contribute to LGBT+ inclusion in Rotary/Rotaract/Interact and Community Service for LGBT+ people.
- Keep promoting the online “Happy Hours” expanding it to different languages/regions.
The Friendship Committee has also nominated a Marketing Team to help the board and committees to:
- Resources to support clubs and districts to engage with Pride Marches and Festivals.
- Resources to support stalls at district conferences.
- Diversity days / events calendar.
- Review the Fellowship’s visual identity and develop a Guide of the Brand (documents, brochures, and social media).
The 21/22 Friendship Director, Anderson Zerwes (he/him), a Brazilian cis gay man, along with the team (almost 20 volunteer members) has been meeting monthly to review the goals and discuss next steps.
“I couldn’t be happier with the support from all over the world members and their excitement to increase the Fellowship’s awareness and belonging. It’s our proud job to give consistency to past presidents service and reflect a diverse and inclusive membership with joy.”Director Zerwes.
Friendship is about many things, and every friendship may have its definition and meaning. However, I believe we can all agree that friends listen to one another. The Rotary LGBT+ Fellowship’s Friendship Committee is not different. We are here to hear you and understand the different realities of our friends across the world – the ones we met, and the ones we have not yet had the chance to meet. We are here to make new friends, to create networks and safe spaces where we can share, and learn, and be proud of our achievements.
Friendship is also about allowing others to be who they are and the Fellowship is engaged to do it both inside and outside of Rotary. I mean, on the inside we wish to promote safe spaces for everyone to feel comfortable and secure to express themselves. And on the outside, the Fellowship supports projects like the ‘eu sou.’ (I am.) of Rotaract Club Pelotas Oeste and the Coletivo T Juliana Martinelli, in the south of Brazil. The ‘eu sou.’ aims to empower people to be who they are and has created a true friendship and partnership between the Rotaract Club and the T community in the city. By selling the project T-shirts they intend to enhance visibility to often forgotten issues. The way they are doing that is reverting all profit from the sales into professional courses to the T community, as well as complimentary training on several areas like personal finance and communication.
In a world that sometimes defines us by who we are not, friends who remind us of our true selves and our strength are always welcome. Friends are needed everywhere to create a positive impact. So, if you want to know more about the project or the fellowship, please contact us. Let’s be friends.
If you would like to be involved in the activities of the friendship committee, contact the team.