Block 13: LGBTQIA+ community of refugees facing daily violenceOct 07, 2021
An online version of Queers of Joy, the twice-monthly event showcasing trans, non-binary and gender diverse performers in Sydney, Australia was not part of the plan. It was co-producer, Gabriel who said, “I think we should do an online show. I think the community needs it.” Co-producer, Malaika was keen but founder & co-producer, Chris was skeptical that it would be a good quality show. They’d been to online shows where everyone has their camera off and there’s no interaction with the audience. However, they were willing to give it a go and here’s what happened…
The first show saw people from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Australia and the US attend.
For the second show, people bought tickets from the UK, Tenerife, all across Australia and Kenya. Lucretia is a young trans woman and human rights defender living in Kakuma, Kenya the biggest refugee camp in the world with 200,000 people. She is a refugee from Uganda. She contacted Chris via Facebook to say how much the show inspired her. She couldn’t watch all of it as the rain interfered with the internet, but she loved what she did see. As they talked further, she told Chris that the 56 LGBTQIA+ people she lives with (plus children) are segregated to one end of the camp called Block 13. She shared the dangerous situation for LGBTQIA+ people there. There are daily acts of violence towards them and they have no shelter due to it being burned down by other people in the camp. People died as a result of this arson attack. A dear friend and comrade of Lucretia’s Trinidad died of horrific burns. Lucretia gave her word to Trinidad that she wouldn’t give up; a bold statement for someone in her circumstances to make.
Chris sent her the recording of Queers of Joy online to share and they all sat around and watched the show. Lucretia said,
“Chris, thank you for the show. I have liked it so much. Everyone here have liked it. I have seen several people here smiling. I had taken long without seeing their smiles. You don't know how much trauma you have cured.”
Lucretia and Chris have continued talking and Gabriel, Malaika and Chris all had a video call with her earlier this week and were all profoundly moved by who Lucretia is for her community. When Chris asked how she found us she said she was on Facebook and came across 'Queers of Joy' and she thought, “Queers of Joy? What is this Queer Joy? I must find out more about Queer Joy?”
Chris says, “I think there's a reason Lucretia found us and we are exploring ways we can be of service to Lucretia and her community including sending supplies, raising awareness and funds.”
Today Chris and Lucretia were interviewed by SBS here in Australia. We are committed to shining light into the hearts of our both communities (simultaneously) and an international spotlight on the dire situation in Block 13. Someone knows someone who can make a difference to our LGBTQIA+ community and family in Block 13, Kakuma, Kenya.
Seeing Lucretia, Fahad and Festo perform online at Queers of Joy tonight was both deeply moving and harrowing, witnessing the grief, loss and despair as well as shared joy, connection and love. These humans are truly incredible. The next morning they shared the victory for their day - securing 3kg of rice from now until Christmas.
If you'd like to donate, we've raised enough so far to rebuild the 'school' and shelter where the lesbians and children sleep. Here's a link to give: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/queersofjoy
Please share. You never know the difference you might make to other people’s lives.
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