Document Our History Now supports documentary makers, photographers, documentalists and journalists in Southeast Asia in their efforts to tell stories and document Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender communities, individuals and events, along with their history and what they are striving for.
In countries such as Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines, many women and men are actively working to bring about gender equality. They are promoting the visibility and advocating the interests and the rights of LGBT groups. In many of those countries, however, it is not always possible for LGBT people to express themselves and live their lives openly; sometimes that can even be outright dangerous. Document Our History Now is a foundation that wants to support existing initiatives to document that struggle.
Change begins when LGBT people are heard, when they leave a trail. That is why we want to help to tell stories, to mark important events and to record the histories of individual people and communities. We want to give LGBTs a face and a voice: let them show and tell about their situation and their history, their joys and their needs. Documentary material can be made available through various media, where it can serve as a source of recognition, information and inspiration for others. At the same time, such material will also serve as historical documentation and become part of LGBT heritage in Southeast Asia.
In some countries in Southeast Asia, such as Thailand, gender minorities already have a reasonably safe position in society. In other countries, a lot still needs to be done before gender minorities will be accepted. Document Our History Now would like to contribute towards that development. The visibility of LGBT in social media offers an opportunity for identification and inspiration for others – especially now that mobile Internet has become available and affordable for the majority of people in Southeast Asia, too.
Parallel to the enormous differences within the region, the possibility for openness also varies significantly. The safety of the individuals who are portrayed in the projects remains a delicate issue. That is something we want to incorporate expressly in our way of working and in our communications.
The non-profit organisation Document Our History Now was founded in 2013. We are registered with the Chamber of Commerce in Amsterdam and have been designated a so-called ANBI (charitable or public-benefit organisation) by the Dutch tax authorities). After having reviewed the foundation with regard to several aspects, the tax authorities found it to be reliable and transparent. Our status as an ANBI means that Dutch citizens can deduct their donations to Document Our History Now from their income taxes.
The foundation started with a small budget of about EUR 15,000, which enabled us to support six initiatives (five documentaries and one photo contest) in the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar. On the basis of those productions, we launched our website in September 2014. From that point on our goal has been to intensify our fundraising efforts in the hopes of enabling more students and professionals to tell their LGBT story.
The foundation will focus primarily on fundraising and productions. The projects themselves will be carried out in Southeast Asia. We aim to have people from the region itself determine which stories to tell, how a given project should take shape, which methods will be used and through which medium it will be communicated.
Communication and transparency
The foundation is looking for private individuals, organisations, companies and (charitable) funds that would like to support our objectives. All our sponsors will receive an annual report outlining the foundation’s activities and its financial state (yearly financial report), as well as mid-term updates whenever there is cause for those. Those documents will be placed annually on our website. Corporate sponsors and private supporters can be mentioned on our website and/or in any communications to the media regarding the projects supported.
The foundation is initiated and operated by Robert Witlox. You can read more here.