The ‘Faces’ exhibition

Parea Suriname, with funding provided by the U.S. Embassy Paramaribo set up the ‘Faces’ exhibition, which portrayed the LGBT history of Suriname as well as highlights of the African American LGBTI society, and was held on 10–24 June 2016 in the ‘Surinaams Museum Fort Zeelandia’.

A broader goal of the ‘Faces’ exhibition was to add to the list of initiatives making LGBT and LGBT issues more mainstream in Suriname.

This exhibition marked the start of the process of gathering information regarding Surinamese LGBT history. A committee, comprising Patrick Liesdek, Duncan Brunings and Jimmy Sontoredjo together with Designer Dirk Jap A Joe, gathered as much information as was then accessible and publicly known, dating back to 1731. For the African American part of the exhibition, we collaborated with Steven Fullwood, archivist at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a research department of the New York Public Library.

The ‘Faces’ exhibition was well received and constituted a significant enhancement to the Pride Month Suriname 2016. The exhibition garnered very good press coverage, in the national papers as well as in online media. The primary goal of taking steps towards getting LGBT people more accepted and recognized as “just people” as an integral part of the Surinamese and global community was achieved by giving a face to the LGBT community.

The ‘Faces’ exhibition taught us that there is much need for such activities and an even greater demand for more information as displayed during the exhibition, not only among the LGBT community but also among the public in general.

The ’Faces’ exhibition was the triggering point for gathering and preserving historic information – the LGBT History Suriname Archives – and for continued research into and writing about the LGBT History of Suriname.