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RE: Questions Rosa Kwir Project

21 July 2021 | 10:49 | 244 KB

From: Calleja Gabriella ****** <********@********>


Hi Roxman,

Below the responses to your questions and attached the consent form. The one related to content I will send with the photos.

1. Can you tell me a bit more about why you chose to be photographed at Golden Bay?

It is one of our favourite places all year round. In summer to swim and relax and in winter to picnic with or without our dogs. It’s also close to another favourite place of ours which is Manikata and the Park tal- Majistral where we frequently walk the dogs in the winter months.

2. It was lovely to see your childhood pics and hear some of the stories behind them, it was really interesting to get a glimpse into your world of voluntary work and was impressed at how young you were when you started doing so. From what I understood most of the organisations / groups you were part of where linked to religious organisations. For this reason it might not have been the easiest to relate with some of the members from these groups, most especially when it came to subjects such as gender and sexuality, would you wish to share some thoughts around this?

My first experiences of activism were within the Christian Community at Junior College and then as part of the Diocesan Youth Commission. This is where I learned about planning, organising, leadership, being of service, social justice and doing all the day-to-day stuff that running an NGO requires. It’s also where I made some lasting friendships. At age 30 I left the Diocesan Youth Commission or KDZ as it was known, to work in the Catholic Diocese of Clifton in Bristol, UK as a diocesan youth worker for a couple of years. I came out to myself and to a few people during this time.
On my return to Malta I joined MGRM. This pre-and-post coming out is a dividing line in my life given the Roman Catholic Church’s stance on LGBTIQ issues. Some LGBTIQ persons choose to stay in the faith; I chose to walk away, for my own mental health and because knowing how wrong the church was on LGBTIQ issues made it impossible for me to respect many other aspects of catholic doctrine. In the end, I valued affirming my truth, and trusting in my own understanding of what leads to growth as a human being way more than any religious belief I might have adhered to.
In MGRM I found a new community and a way to address my passion for justice which was just as important and which lead to important changes in Maltese society. Sometime it meant going head-to-head with the friends I had volunteered with in my pre-coming out life. This was hard. To know that people who knew me well could somehow not understand that by actively fighting against the recognition of LGBTIQ couples and rainbow families they were also saying that my relationship did not deserve equal recognition and implying that my becoming a parent should I choose to, would somehow be damaging to children. I had run summer schools with many of them. I was a qualified teacher and youth worker, not some random, anonymous stranger. And yet, they were oblivious.

3. How do you identify your gender and sexuality to yourself or to other people?

I use the terms lesbian or gay person to identify my sexual orientation. My gender expression is rather masculine or androgynous which is somewhat self-evident I would think.

4. Do you think that it is important for us to challenge, and change aspects of masculinity that are problematic?

I think any aspects of gender that are problematic need to be challenged. Whether it be those related to power and control, the unequal distribution of resources, intimate partner violence, gender stereotypical roles such as caring responsibilities, femininity in men, and so on.

5. What does masculinity mean to you?

Mainly it means being comfortable in my own skin. Often it means struggling to find clothing that fits my gender expression. I look at men’s clothing stores and think, I wish someone would design clothes for butch women or put differently, for men with hips and breasts. It often means not having to wear make-up or dresses or heels. Until I was around 13, 14 years old I often wished I was a boy. I thought men had more options. I definitely didn’t want to marry a man. I knew this way before I figured out I was gay. This changed when I learned about feminism. Then it wasn’t so much about wanting to be a boy but about the transgression of gender norms and the fight for equality.

Gabriella Calleja

From: <>

Sent: Monday, 19 July 2021 17:59

To: Calleja Gabriella <*********@*******>

Subject: Questions Rosa Kwir Project

Hi Gabi

Thank you for accepting to be part of this project, I’m very grateful.

Wanted to send you over a couple of questions, please feel free to answer or not answer any of the question below…