A prominent LGBTQ activist from Trinidad and Tobago died in D.C. on March 4.
Newsday, a Trinidadian newspaper, reported Colin Robinson, 59, passed away from colon cancer. A source in Trinidad and Tobago told the Washington Blade he had been living with his sister in D.C. as he underwent treatment.
Robinson in 2009 founded CAISO, a Trinidadian LGBTQ advocacy organization.
Newsday reported Robinson also co-founded the Audre Lorde Project and Caribbean Pride in the 1990s while he studied in New York. He was also a member of OutRight Action International’s board of directors from 1998 to 2003.
Robinson, among other things, called for the decriminalization of consensual same-sex sexual relations in Trinidad and Tobago. Robinson in 2014 met with Dennis and Judy Shepard when they traveled to the country with the State Department.
“CAISO mourns the loss of our Director of Imagination Colin Robinson,” tweeted CAISO on March 5. “We share in this enormous loss with the many communities, organizations and people who Colin collaborated with over his four decades of activism, community building and fierce commitment to human rights.”
Caribbean Vulnerable Communities, a coalition of groups that fights HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, in a statement said Robinson’s “contribution to advancing the cause of LGBT+ people across the region in his over four decades of activism, community building and standing up for human rights is one we applaud and celebrate in his memory.”
“Organizations across the Caribbean, and indeed the world, can attest to Colin’s creatively imaginative ways of fighting for justice, always ensuring that these efforts were grounded in the collective voice, lived experiences and will of the LGBT+ community across the region,” added the group.
Maria Fontenelle, director of communications and programs for the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality, a St. Lucia-based group that promotes LGBTQ rights in the Eastern Caribbean, also mourned Robinson.
“I had the pleasure to share space with Colin in the last days of his life, for which I am grateful,” Fontenelle told the Blade on Monday. “This was very deliberate. He made it so. Being blunt as he put it, in making the most of human connection during his last days.”
“I admire Colin for his expressed love for Caribbean culture and unflinching stance on global north/colonial imposition into global south advocacy,” added Fontenelle. “As an activist and a writer, I was in awe of his scholarship and admired the determination behind his consistent interrogation through poetry, and commentary. He has left an indelible mark on Caribbean LGBTQ+ advocacy that will continue to be a feature of LGBTQ+ advocacy even beyond the region.”
OutRight Action International Executive Director Jessica Stern echoed Fontenelle.
“Colin’s work for the LGBTIQ community in Trinidad was herculean, long-lasting, and transformative,” said Stern in a statement. “He was also very clever and funny, so you wanted to know what he was thinking and would say next. Though Colin’s life was too short, his impact was great and his legacy will endure.”