The Beirut explosion was a shocking occurrence that reverberated around the world. The statistics speak volumes; over 170 people dead, thousands injured and millions of livelihoods gone up in smoke, literally. Those lucky enough to escape with their lives comparatively intact have to contend with lost homes, businesses, friends and even family members.
For the LGBTQ+ community, the explosion has simply worsened an already dire situation. Subsequently, the LGBTQ+ community in Beirut has had to dig deep to survive the explosion that threatens to completely destroy a country that was already on the brink.
Primarily, LGBTQ+ folks are being taken care of by fundraisers and donations. Various well-wishing individuals, entities and groups have come together to rally around the badly-hit LGBTQ+ community in Beirut. As one of the marginalized groups in Beirut, and in the world at large, the LGBTQ+ community gets very little in terms of sympathy and support from society or the government. It is reported that some LGBTQ+ people have to share the available resources; it is commonplace to find more than five individuals sharing a single room. Nonetheless, LGBTQ+ groups in Lebanon have and continue to raise funds to provide basic amenities for some of the worst-hit members. This is a welcome move that further denotes the need for a united and loyal LGBTQ+ community around the world.
Additionally, members of the LGBTQ+ community in Lebanon have come together to assist in the rebuild of the country. The most established LGBTQ+ group in Lebanon, Helem, saw its premises decimated and resources disappear in a flash. In response, various individuals and LGBTQ+ organizations have volunteered to assist in clean up exercises such as debris collection. Chief among the challenges facing the queer community in Beirut is a highly homophobic heterosexual culture. For LGBTQ+ members, it is not possible to just resettle in other parts of the city or the rest of Lebanon for that matter. They can only live in very few areas of Beirut like Gemayze and Mar Mkhayel which have been wrecked by the recent explosion. As such, LGBTQ+ people in Beirut have to be assisted with basic human needs like food and shelter.
LGBTQ+ folks in Beirut face discrimination at the workplace which has led to a high unemployment rate among them. Employers are quick to fire LGBTQ+ individuals — especially with the economic crisis that has plagued the nation way before the deadly explosion occurred. Out of work and choices, most LGBTQ+ members find themselves in desperate situations forcing them to turn to alternative trades such as prostitution. Moreover, drug abuse and misuse has also gone up among the LGBTQ+ community in Beirut as they attempt to cope with the harrowing realities. Lebanon is a country undergoing economic, social and political turmoil; the LGBTQ+ community typically bears the brunt in such inhumane conditions. Even in normal times, queer people never get to live a free or full life. After the explosion, life is simply a nightmare for the LGBTQ+ community.
LGBTQ+ groups such as AllOut have pulled out the stops to help out the LGBTQ+ community affected by the explosion. International donors have also been urged to step in and lessen the burden on minority groups. One thing remains for certain, however, the LGBTQ+ community will bounce back stronger after this living nightmare.
About the Author:
Judy Bokao is 20 years old and was born in Ethiopia but relocated to Nairobi two years ago. She is passionate about everyone having equal rights and is also big on conservation and speaking up for our planet. Judy loves reading and photography and is just a free-spirited young lady trying to grow into a woman her mom can be proud of.