‘Hope is in humanity’: an interview with the activist raising thousands for Beirut’s queer civilians

CN: this interview contains detailed discussion of queerphobic violence, abuse, trauma and persecution


On 4 August 2020, nearly 3 000 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded at the Port of Beirut in Lebanon. The explosion killed over 200 people and displaced an estimated 300 000. Within the broader humanitarian crisis that ensued, there exists another which goes unheard: the fate of Beirut’s queer population. Following the explosion, many have had to face the prospect of returning to family homes, where their sexual orientation or gender identity has put their lives at risk. Beyond family homes, the threat of financial precarity, abuse and violence continues to make life unbearable for displaced queer civilians. The safe spaces queer people had in Beirut have been destroyed or badly damaged, including the LGBT-friendly neighbourhoods of Gemmayzé and Mar-Mikhael. Until now, their stories of violence and trauma have gone unreported, unsought, unheard. Now, thanks to activist, Ian Abinakle, the ongoing pain of Beirut’s displaced queer people is being told to the world.

Ian Abinakle organises Pride celebrations in the country, including Montreal’s Divers/Cité Festivals and Toronto’s Green Space Festival. [Image Credit: Ian Abinakle]

Last June, Ian travelled back to his homeland to interview 14 LGBTQ+ individuals about the inhumane conditions under which they continue to live. Having now returned to Canada, Ian has published their stories for the world to hear. In collaboration with the organisation, MOSAIC, Ian has also set up the fundraising campaign, Shattered Hearts (Coeurs en Éclats). The goal is clear: to raise CAD 135 000 that will go directly to Beirut’s displaced queer civilians.

Politika News spoke with Ian on what he discovered when he went back to Beirut, and why the campaign is one of few lifelines for the capital’s queer community. 

Readers can donate to the Shattered Hearts-Coeurs en Éclats fundraising campaign here.

Readers can donate to the Shattered Hearts-Coeurs en Éclats fundraising campaign here.

Politika News would like to thank Ian Abinakle for his time. Readers can access the stories discussed in the interview here. Readers can donate to the campaign here.

Article Image Source: Ian Abinakle

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