Writer and activist Colin Robinson died on Thursday in Washington, DC, of colon cancer. He was 58.
Robinson was a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) activist for more than 40 years. He founded, was a part of or was a mentor to LGBT+ NGOs in TT.
He was the executive director of the Coalition Advocating for Sexual Inclusion (Caiso): Sex and Gender Justice, which he founded in 2009. He co-founded the Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities.
Robinson began organising the LGBT+ community while studying in New York. He co-founded the Audre Lorde Project in 1994 and Caribbean Pride in 1997.
A release from Caiso co-director Angelique Nixon said the NGO was heartbroken to announce the death of its “beautiful, intrepid, and tireless” founder. Robinson, it said, “courageously led the conversation around how black and brown people reclaim their queerness in spaces from which they are often shunned.”
Jeremy Edwards, executive director of the Silver Lining Foundation, described Robinson as a friend, mentor and the reason why there was so much progress for acceptance and inclusion of the LGBT community in TT.
“He encouraged young people to take active participation in activism. He mentored us every step of the way. His legacy was mentoring young people to step up to make a change and demand change for everyone.”
His friend Luke Sinnette said Robinson was involved in many more activism circles outside the LGBT+ rights movement, such as those on child marriage and a national gender policy.
“I’ve been feeling the gravity of the loss. I came to terms that he was not going to be here. Just to think how many lives Colin touched, I try to think of all the spaces that now have in a hole in it because Colin is gone.”
As a poet, Robinson published a collection called You Have You Father Hard Head. His work appeared in journals and anthologies such as Calabash, Caribbean Erotic: Poetry, Prose, and Essays, The Caribbean Writer, Corpus: an HIV Prevention Publication, and Moko. He was also a Newsday columnist.
Newsday editor in chief Judy Raymond described Robinson as an intelligent, reasonable, persuasive, open-hearted, optimistic, passionate leader and writer.
As a columnist for the paper, she said, “Of course Colin wrote about the causes for which he had been an activist for many years and which were at bottom about equal rights and justice for all. I think and hope those columns were as effective as the other work he did in those causes.”
But the columns she remembers as most memorable were “heart-wrenchingly, breathtakingly personal.
“He broke more barriers when he wrote so frankly and with such calm and courage – which I know he didn’t always feel, he wasn’t Superman – about his cruelly painful and horribly early and imminent death. We’re proud to have published all of those columns.”
Marina Salandy-Brown, Newsday columnist and Bocas Lit Fest founder, said Robinson’s death was a “huge loss” to the writing community.
“People like him don’t happen every day. He was brave, naughty, liked to stir things up. He was not afraid to live. We looked at him and thought maybe we could live like him. He did not force you to agree with everything he said…He understood people had different views, but he was compelling with his words.”