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Colin Robinson

Writer, columnist and activist Colin Robinson has died.

Robinson, 59, died in Washington DC, where he was receiving palliative care after a lengthy battle with colon cancer.

Robinson was very open about the seriousness of his illness. In his Sunday column last May, he revealed he was suffering tremendous pain and discomfort because of his stage IV colon cancer diagnosis. In Learning to Die, Robinson wrote that he had reached the realisation, “that what you are doing is dying. And that you need to quickly learn how to.”

Robinson, who wrote columns in both the T&T Guardian and Newsday, was unflinching in his writing and it was clear he viewed life through the lens of a gay, black, Trinidadian man actually living in Trinidad.

A lifelong activist, he founded CAISO, which was originally an acronym for Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation, in 2009. In 2016, the name was changed to simply CAISO: Sex and Gender Justice. Robinson had, at the time of his death, been its director of imagination.

The NGO released a statement yesterday saying it “shares in this great loss with the many communities, organisations, and people who Colin collaborated with over his four decades of activism.”

“He embodied fighting for justice using creative imagination and instilled in us the importance of collective voice and effort,” CAISO said.

His friend and colleague Marina Salandy-Brown said Robinson, as an advocate, was forceful in the communication of his idea, yet he respected people’s agency. Describing him as “somebody who was a stirrer about things he felt he had to stir about,” she said instead of simply changing your mind, he’d rather enlarge your view.

Robinson was also a poet. His collection You Have You Father Hard Head was published by Peepal Tree Press in 2016. He wrote widely and his work has appeared in Calabash, Moko: Caribbean Arts and Letters and The Caribbean Writer.

CAISO said plans for a celebration of his life and work will be shared in a subsequent announcement.