Sunset: September 2001
Elizabeth Calvet was a prominent leader and
activist in the lesbian, women's, feminist and black movements
in Brazil. She had a unique talent for making what we now call "intersectionality"
- that is, the interplay of multiple discriminations- visible.
She spoke as a lesbian to the black movement, and made them
understand that black women could also be lesbians. She spoke as
black and poor to the lesbian and feminist movements, shattering
many of their misconceptions about who the lesbians are. Thanks
to her endless effort, the black movement in Brazil became more
aware of sexual diversity, and the lesbian and feminist
movements became more race and class conscious.
Ms. Calvet was a founder member of
COLERJ - Coletivo de Lesbicas de Rio de Janeiro- and of
CEDOICOM - a documentation center for and about black women.
In both collectives, she worked mostly with those lesbians with
whom no other groups were working: black, poor women living in
favelas (shantytowns). She led support groups; struggled with
the government to get legal counsel, jobs, and food for the
women and their children; worked with doctors and teachers to
sensitize them and make their skills accessible to the women in
Nationally, Ms. Calvet was known for creating
and organizing the now very successful "Seminarios Lesbicos."
The Seminarios are gatherings of lesbian groups from all
Brazilian states that take place once a year, always in a
different town, funded by the national government. Participants
are selected by their organizations and get full scholarships.
The Seminarios are unique events, where lesbians share skills,
plan future actions and evaluate their work.
Ms. Calvet died in September 2001. Brazilian
lesbian organizations Grupo Lesbico de Bahia, Um Outro Olhar,
Movimento D'Ellas and Associação Lésbica de Minas, have
nominated her for the Felipa de Souza Posthumous Award.
The organizations that nominated Ms. Calvet
pointed out other exemplary features of her life as an activist.
In a heavily centralized country, where Rio de Janeiro and Sao
Paulo concentrate all the attention, the Minas Lesbian
Association stated that Ms. Calvet "did not mind travelling to
Minas whenever needed; on the contrary, she enjoyed it, because
she was contributing something". And Um Outro Olhar adds that
Ms. Calvet "knew how to overcome past disagreements (among
lesbian groups) and keep in mind what common interests the
lesbian communities have."
lesbian movement loses a warrior.
Elizabeth Calvet, died (September 2001) due to a cerebral
aneurism. She was an untiring fighter of the cause: brave, bold
and one who was never silent.
According to IGLHRC,
Calvet spoke out consistently in her life about the interplay of
multiple discriminations. Among black activists, she was a
pioneer in discussing the existence of black lesbians. As a poor
black woman, Calvet reached out to the lesbian and feminist
movements, shattering many of their misconceptions about the
types of women in Brazil who made up the lesbian community.
Calvet’s most unique
contribution came in working with lesbians with whom no other
groups was working: black, poor women living in shantytowns or
favelas. She organized and led support groups, struggled with
government authorities to see that these women and their
children got legal counsel, jobs, and food and worked to
sensitize doctors, teachers, and other care and service
providers to the plight of poor women and children of color.
honor Elizabeth Calvet, a prominent Brazilian activist and
lesbian of color, at its 2002 Felipa Award ceremonies. Calvet,
raised issues of sexual diversity within the black movement in
Brazil and helped the lesbian and feminist movements become more
conscious about race and class. Calvet died in September 2001.