Mikel Haman (1963-2018) At the forefront of the Caribbean LGBTQI liberation

On one of the first days of 2018 Mikel Haman died at the age of 54 after a short illness. Mikel was an important member of the LGBTQI and Surinam-Caribbean community in Amsterdam. A flamboyant man, he normally was a friendly and diplomatic activist within the Surinam-Caribbean community for LGBTQI rights. But when he got angry, he could be a loud and outspoken campaigner against malpractice and injustice.

Mikel Haman was born in Surinam in South America.  In the 1980’s the military grabbed power and founded a dictatorship. For Mikel it was time to move to The Netherlands. Here he had a varied career as a musical dancer, a pub owner and a cruise ship waiter. After a serious accident in that last job he returned to show business, amongst others as a fire-eater.

Fighter and diplomat for LGBTQI rights

Mikel never hid the fact that he was gay. Within the Surinam-Caribbean society a sensitive and often taboo subject. With tact and diplomacy he made LGTBQI rights and the fate of LGBTQI people a topic of conversation within the Surinam-Caribbean community. He did that mostly with workshops and panel discussions, but was also willing to take a public stance if necessary.

But Mikel was also very outspoken and a real fighter if necessary. When he discovered that pentecostal churches in the Surinam-Caribbean community in Amsterdam organized hiv-healings, he spoke out loud and clear against these illegal practices. As a HIV positive man himself, he raised awareness against these practices with the Dutch health authorities and the Amsterdam city council. He was in this way able to stop these practices and undoubtedly saved many lives with his actions.

Giving the LGBTQI people a place within the Surinam-Caribbean community

He also gave LGBTQI people a visible place within the Surinam-Caribbean community in Amsterdam. A important festival within that community is Kwakoe. This festival is a mix of sports, culture, food and fun during 5 weekends every summer in Amsterdam. Mikel Haman was the driving force behind ‘Roze Zondag’ (Pink Sunday or LGBTQI Sunday) during every Kwakoe festival from 2008 onwards.

Mikel fought for the position of LGBTQI people in Amsterdam, but also in his old home country Surinam. In 2017 he got a host of Surinam artist together to record a video called ‘Kom uit de Kast’ (come out of the closet). With international music stars like Denise Jannah, Ronald Snijders and Patrick Tevreden, you can hear Mike sing along on a melody of the Corona Band. The purpose of the song was to encourage LGBTQI people in Surinam to be open about their sexuality and be visible.

Mikel Haman Award

Shortly after recording this video clip, Mikel had to go to the hospital because of physical pains. Quickly  it became clear that he had untreatable pancreatic cancer. A few days before he died, one of the Kwakoe festival organizers visited him. Mikel was told that in 2018 an Mikel Haman Award would be presented for the first time on the ‘Roze Zondag’ at Kwakoe. The award will be given to a someone who has made an extraordinary contribution to the cause of LGBTQI people in the Surinam-Caribbean community.

A beautiful tribute to one of the true heroes of the LGBTQI community.