It deeply saddens all of us to have to let go Sharmus Outlaw, our 2016 Programme Advisory Committee (PAC) member, who passed away last week after so many achievements and struggles in her life. Our hearts go out particularly to all her friends and colleagues who have stayed with her in the most difficult of times.
Sharmus was part of the Red Umbrella Fund’s 2015 Programme Advisory Committee (PAC), the international peer-led group that reviews applications and selects which ones should get funded. Participating in the PAC was a new international experience for Sharmus, and she took up the challenge with both hands. She contributed to the grantmaking process with eagerness, joy and wisdom.
As a trans woman of colour and sex worker, Sharmus advocated for those who are non-conforming, excluded and often silenced. She was the strong voice of the most vulnerable and marginalised sex workers in the PAC.
We also remember Sharmus as a pleasant, peaceful and incredibly caring human being. Sharmus was positive, kind and loving. She communicated her strong opinions and feelings in a constructive way, always demonstrating openness and respect to different opinion and democratic process. She firmly believed that together, the sex worker movement is stronger. She was a true sex workers’ rights activist, with a lifetime dedicated to all those who face violence, oppression, stigma and discrimination.
Sharmus, your legacy will continue to be our inspiration and motivation.
Messages from Red Umbrella Fund staff and PAC members that worked with her in 2015:
“I am mortified by this news!!!! This is truly, truly, sad!!!! I had hoped her health would improve after being moved to the new facility. Rest in peace Sharmus, You will be missed dearly. Rest in peace our dearly beloved SHARMUS!!”
– Daughtie Oguto, member of the PAC 2015
“I was privileged enough to meet this fabulous lady in Amsterdam. I remember she used to call us ‘PAC family members’, which meant a lot to me. Sharmus was indeed family of all sex workers in the world, someone who would never give up the fight. Her last message to me was: ‘tell everyone I will see them in October’. You’ll always be with us, Sharmus!”
– Dennis van Wanrooij, Programme Associate, Red Umbrella Fund
“I am so upset to hear this news about Sharmus. She had such a strong presence at the PAC last year. We all learned a lot from her and she will be very much missed.”
– Karen Gardiner, member of the PAC 2015
“I remember we talked for hours over Skype during our first orientation session in August 2015. The connection went bad regularly requiring redialling many times. She stayed patient and excited and would regularly pause the session to ask questions, trying to make things real and ensuring she really understood. She was eager to learn and honest in her feedback and questioning, and very warm and thankful to everyone she worked with. The points she raised about applicants during the PAC meeting came straight from her heart, every time.”
– Nadia van der Linde, Coordinator, Red Umbrella Fund
“It was a pleasure for me to work with Sharmus. We were both new to the PAC in 2015. Apart from her thoughts and insights on the proposals that I valued highly, I loved spending time with her in Amsterdam. I remember her buying more souvenirs for her family members then she could possibly carry home. It’s a great lost for all of is that we have to continue without her.”
– Marije van Stempvoort, member of the PAC 2015
“I am so sorry for the loss of an enthusiastic member of the Program Advisory Committee. We shall remember her contribution and continue to work for sex workers right movement.”
– Ray Lam, member of the PAC 2015
See the following links for more information about Sharmus’ legacy: