GLBT activist Valentino Tear returns plans ‘Vogue Ball’ on January 28
A Bermudian gay rights activist who wants to start a nightclub has spoken of his hope that the new Government will move quickly to implement equal rights for all.
Valentino Tear, who has been working as a model, campaigner and DJ in England for eight years, told
The Royal Gazette: “I got back last Thursday and since I have been here I have been getting a warm welcome from most people.
“As long as they [Government] are moving forward with this, I would like to stay here forever.”
Mr Tear has been working with the National Health Service in England to promote safe sex and has also been working with the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community in the city of Manchester.
He has modelled for educational campaign leaflets and has a home-studio and has also DJ’d in clubs.
“I would love to move back to Bermuda if I could have a gay club,” said Mr Tear. “I am a gay DJ and I want to play to a GLBT crowd.”
However, he is concerned that bad publicity in 2007, when a gay cruise organised by talk show host Rosie O’Donnell’s company was cancelled over fear of protests by local church groups, damaged Bermuda’s international reputation.
According to Mr Tear, the issue has been mentioned to him by members of the GLBT community after he’s told them where he’s from.
“We have got this reputation internationally, like Jamaica, for not being welcoming,” he said.
“I am excited about the new Bermuda and I would like to be part of the change that’s happening. I want to be a voice for the GLBT group.
“They [Government] have promised to do this, so let’s get it done as soon as possible — before the summer.
“They need to take some action. If I am working in a place I want to know I am protected under the law, and if I have staff I want them to be protected.
“When the gay cruises come to Bermuda they will need a place to come that’s an openly gay bar and I want to be the head of that ship.”
When Mr Tear lived in Bermuda, he was part of the campaign leading up to the Stubbs Bill in 1994 which decriminalised homosexuality.
He used to DJ at private parties on the Island and in the early 1990s, he started Bermuda’s first gay night, at Showbiz Restaurant in Hamilton.
He also launched Attitudes, Bermuda’s first gay nightclub, and has marched for the Island in gay pride events in England.
Although in the early stages of plans for his own club, he will host a gay night at Shine’s club on Reid Street, Hamilton, every Monday night from January 28.
“It will be Bermuda’s first advertised GLBT night, and all are welcome. The opening theme is Valentino’s Vogue Ball,” he explained.
Mr Tear would also like to work as an advisor to the new Government on GLBT issues and how to attract more GLBT visitors to the Island.
“We can see what state the Country is in and we need to move forward before we do any more damage with homophobia,” he said.
“Government should invite GLBT cruises to come to Bermuda — it would be an exciting turnaround for tourism.”
The former Progressive Labour Party Government was responsible for bringing a “take note motion” on a proposed Equality Act to the House of Assembly in July 2012.
The proposed act would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation in the areas of employment, accommodation and goods and services.
A number of MPs on both sides of the house said they supported the proposals.
Invited to respond to Mr Tear’s concerns and outline the new One Bermuda Alliance Government’s stance on such legislation, Minister of Community and Cultural Development Wayne Scott said: “The Government is against discrimination in any form.
“We will strengthen Bermuda’s commitment to human rights for all, prohibiting discrimination in employment, goods and services and housing.”
The Minister said he was not in a position to give a specific time frame for when legislation will be introduced to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
A Government spokesman added: “Government’s policy initiatives will be set out in the upcoming Throne Speech and then introduced in the Budget.
“Although the Minister cannot provide a specific timeline, the Government will seek to address this subject as soon as it is feasible to do so.”