Stories from Rainbow Street
To respect the security, privacy, and dignity of our beneficiaries, we've provided the stories of only a few beneficiaries who have given their consent to share them publicly. These aren't their real names.
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Bader is a human rights activist who works with UNHCR to support fellow LGBT refugees. He’s also a powerful writer and poet who regularly shares his truth on his page Diary of a Queer Refugee. He wrote his own story below. Since writing this story, he has been permanently resettled in a safe country.
Bader is a trans person who fled to Lebanon over a year ago.
Bader’s family knew about him from the beginning. To protect the family reputation, they forced him to wear a headscarf and forbade him from enrolling in university. They beat him often.
After many years of abuse, Bader finally escaped his family. He remained in hiding and was forced to flee twice more as he traveled to different Middle Eastern countries. He was often homeless, sleeping on building rooftops and other makeshift shelters that didn’t protect him from the winter cold. He walked long distances on an empty stomach because he had no money for food or transportation.
Bader’s ID doesn’t match his appearance, which led to many hardships. No one will hire him, and he’s often detained at police checkpoints. He avoided hospitals for over a year because he was scared to present any identifying documents. Many people tried to exploit or harm him, so Bader tried his best to keep his trans identity to himself.
Today Bader lives in Lebanon. Having a safe place to live is essential for him. When he first got to Lebanon, he lost 22 lb. and started having health problems because he didn't have enough money to eat. For his safety, Bader can't live in the cheaper neighborhoods outside of Beirut. He tried to for a while, but he was stopped and almost detained twice by different religious groups.
With the support of Rainbow Street, Bader now lives in a relatively safe part of Beirut and can eat food whenever he feels hungry—no more depending on friends and strangers to share their food. Soon the winter is coming and there's even more need to live in a warm place, but Bader can live safely with Rainbow Street’s assistance until he's resettled by UNHCR.
Since the writing of this story, Omar has been permanently resettled in safe country.
Omar is a trans man currently living as a refugee in Beirut, Lebanon. Omar questioned his gender identity from an early age. But due to unbearable family pressure in his traditional community, he was forced to marry a man and bear a child. Omar’s husband abused him because of his refusal to conform to gender norms. After years of abuse and nowhere to turn, Omar fled to Beirut, where he lived in homelessness and food insecurity--common challenges for LGBT refugees awaiting resettlement.
Rainbow Street learned of Omar’s case soon after his arrival in Lebanon and leapt into action to get him off the street and into safe housing. Besides providing for Omar’s necessary expenses, Rainbow Street has been coordinating with multiple governmental and non-governmental organizations to help Omar permanently resettle in a safe country.
Raghad’s physical threats began at age 10 when her grade school separated students by gender. Refusing to tolerate nonconformity, Raghad’s community rejected and harassed her. Things got worse. At 18, threatened by an armed militia, she contacted Rainbow Street and fled her home country. Rainbow Street staff worked with Raghad to register with the UN refugee agency so she could achieve her goal of permanent resettlement in a safer country. Local staff coordinated financial support from US donors so Raghad could live safely and independently until she was finally resettled over a year later. Raghad is using her fresh start to finally focus on her career in fashion.
Ayman is a young gay man from the Arabian peninsula. He became Rainbow Street’s first success story when he was permanently resettled in Ottawa, Canada with the help of UNHCR and a local guardian group.
Rainbow Street learned of Ayman’s case when he was living as a refugee in Amman, Jordan. Unable to work legally, Ayman was vulnerable to exploitation and forced to engage in risky behavior to make ends meet. Rainbow Street’s sustained monthly assistance provided the stability that Ayman needed to focus on his future instead of his immediate survival.