Women We Love 2022: Rosanna Flamer-Caldera

Rosanna Flamer-Caldera

by Pulse

Everyone’s first Pride is life-changing, but Rosanna Flamer-Caldera’s was positively epic. “Harvey Milk headed the parade,” recalls Flamer- Caldera, who moved to San Francisco from her home in Sri Lanka at age 18. Stateside, she came out as a lesbian and became involved in LGBTQ+ activism. But when Flamer-Caldera returned to Sri Lanka in 1990, life was very different. “I was shocked to hear that consenting adult same-sex sexual relationships were a criminal offense under the country’s penal code,” she tells GO. “I felt I had to do something about that.” After co- founding and working with the Women’s Support Group, Flamer-Caldera launched EQUAL GROUND, one of the oldest LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations in Sri Lanka, in 2004. She serves as Executive Director, and in 2018 played an instrumental part in filing a groundbreaking case at the United Nations Committee, to eliminate discrimination against women who challenge laws that criminalize same-sex relationships between consenting adults. In 2021, Flamer-Caldera headed up a first-of-its-kind case in the Sri Lanka Court of Appeals against homophobic, inflammatory, and discriminatory speech from police trainers. She’s seen the fruits of her labor flourish—“several of my past employees at EQUAL GROUND have gone on to start their own advocacy organizations and groups,” Flamer-Caldera says—and relishes support from her community. “Having a good net- work of friends and colleagues to form a safety net for when times get rough” helps her with adversity, she says. However, it’s not all work and no play in Sri Lanka. “Being around wildlife and nature is my biggest joy,” Flamer-Caldera says. “And I am a [retired] drag king!” –LE

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