Looking back at the film and discussion evening on LGBTIQ+ Rights in Venezuela

On March 7th, we held an event at the Library of Utrecht focusing on LGBTIQ+ rights in Venezuela, featuring the screening of the documentary “Pelo Malo” (Bad Hair). Our Shelter City guest, Yendri Velásquez, joined us alongside cultural anthropologist Nine de Jonge.

Marieke Martens and Loïc Chartier kicked off the evening with an introduction to the Shelter City Utrecht project and shed light on PBI and our mission. By hosting this event, we aimed to raise awareness about the current situation regarding LGBTIQ+ rights in Venezuela. Nearly all seats were filled, showing the remarkable interest from the audience.

Following the introduction, we introduced our Shelter City Utrecht guest, Yendri Velásquez, to the audience through a short documentary made by Stevie van der Kroon. In the documentary, Yendri shared insights into his journey as an LGBTIQ+ activist, the challenges faced in Venezuela, his hopes for the future, and how his stay in Utrecht reinvigorated his commitment to his work.. After the film screening the short documentary was published on YouTube.

Then it was time to watch the film Pelo Malo. Pelo Malo is directed by Mariana Rondón. It follows the nine-year-old Junior who wants to become a singer. His natural wild curls do not match the image he has in mind though. Much to his mother’s annoyance, he does everything he can to straighten his curly hair. Although Junior has no idea yet what the word ‘homosexual’ means, his mother is deeply concerned about his orientation. Pelo Malo is a non-judgmental, beautiful coming-of-age about identity film set in the working class in Caracas. The film is praised and prized in the international film industry.

After the film screenings, we initiated a discussion moderated by Marieke and Loïc, with Yendri and Nine de Jonge as panelists. Yendri provided insights into the situation in Venezuela, while Nine offered perspectives on LGBTIQ+ rights in the Netherlands.

The discussion was followed by a Q&A session, where the audience had the opportunity to engage with Yendri and Nine, asking questions and sharing their thoughts. Additionally, we invited the audience to write personal messages to Yendri on post cards, offering him support and solidarity to take back home to Venezuela. The messages were heartwarming!

A special thanks goes out to Stevie van der Kroon, the maker of the short documentary about Yendri, and all of our wonderful PBI volunteers who put so much of their energy into making this evening a success! Last, but certainly not least, thank you to our partners Municipality of UtrechtJustice & Peace Nederland, the Shelter City projectHuman Rights UtrechtThe Netherlands Institute for Human Rights (SIM) and Bibliotheek Utrecht.

The PBI The Netherlands team

This event was made possible by: