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WE ARE NOT WHO THEY SAY WE ARE

We Are Not Who They Say We Are by Manu Valcarce is a documentary that tells the story of Arcoirís, a group of LGBTQI+ human rights defenders in Honduras. In recent years the organisation has faced mounting attacks and threats following relentless public abuse and stigmatisation.

Grecia O'Hara by Manu Valcarce

Arcoirís is my home. It’s where I found myself and felt loved and important and above all, where I found a family that respects and supports me. For me, that is Arcoirís – the house where Chidanna was born.

Chidanna, human rights defender and Arcoirís member.

Arcoirís began as an initiative of several queer people in Honduras in 2003. At a time when there was nowhere for the LGBT community to meet, take refuge, or enjoy recreational activities. The ‘80s, ‘90s and early 2000s were marked by a lot of pain and abandonment. They were hard times for the community characterised by police violence, as authorities carried out raids against homosexual victims of rape, cruel and inhuman treatment. Added to this, the HIV pandemic took the lives of hundreds of colleagues who died from the disease, in complete abandonment and isolation.

For those and many other reasons we organised ourselves to create Casa Arcoirís: our home, a safe space free from violence in all its expressions. At Arcoirís we help tired bodies recover, and heal non-physical wounds in the hearts caused by the discrimination and rejection of our families and a society that has taken away the will to live for many people. For the last 17 years we have supported hundreds of brothers and sisters, with many economic limitations but a wealth of solidarity, love, understanding, and companionship as well.

Rixi García by Manu Valcarce

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We Are Not Who They Say We Are by Manu Valcarce has been selected for FilmPride Festival 2020, where it will be screened alongside more than 50 LGBTQI+ films from up-and-coming directors.

This documentary tells the story of Arcoiris, a group of LGBTQI+ human rights defenders in Honduras. In recent years the organisation has faced mounting attacks and threats following relentless public abuse and stigmatisation. Prejudice from the police and judiciary means that these attacks go largely unpunished, making it one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be an LGBT+ human rights defender. The films reveal both the severity of the risks they face and their determination to further their struggle.

The director, Manu Valcarce is a documentary photographer and filmmaker based in London. He has worked on projects ranging from the lives of Muslim transsexuals living in Jakarta, Indonesia, to those affected by austerity in rural Spain. His work has been screened in the Tate Modern as part of the Uniglo Tate Lates and exhibited in solo and collective shows as well as photography festivals.

‘As a gay man growing up in 1990s Spain - when attitudes were not as open-minded as they are today - I can relate to the pain suffered by the LGBT+ community in countries yet to experience that transformation. Growing up with repression at home, glares and verbal abuse in the streets, and negative representation in the media persist all over the world. However, the situation in Honduras went beyond anything I could have experienced or even imagined. The LGBT+ community often talks of post-traumatic growth, and I saw in these incredible human rights defenders an example of how to direct your pain to fight passionately for your rights, and to help others going through similar experiences. I learned so much about the resilience and solidarity of my community, which I found deeply inspiring.’

Chidanna, Miss Arcoíris