Raising direct aid funds for LGBTIQ individuals in the aftermath of the Beirut port explosion

My name is Ian Abinakle. My younger self was meant to teach French Literature in Beirut. Instead, I was drawn into show production, event planning and activism in Canada. This led to the promotion of diversity through music and art via involvement in LGBTIQ Pride organizations. I have been Festival director of Divers/Cité Montréal’s Pride for over 15 years, producer of Toronto’s The 519’s Green Space Festival for 12 years now as well as producer for large scale fundraising events. These accomplishments were heightened by the positive impact on individuals and the amazing feedback and support throughout the community.

Shattered Hearts fundraising campaign surfaced in my head during the pandemic isolation where I felt the need of being “useful” again. Restricted social gatherings and the overload of digital connectivity have resulted in an awful emptiness and the unbearable feeling of being useless, of not being considered an “essential” contributor to society. Watching helplessly my childhood country collapse, I could imagine the extra load of hardship LGBTIQ individuals affected by the Beirut port explosion were going through.

Shattered Hearts  fundraising campaign came about a desire to help alleviate the suffering of LGBTIQ individuals after the explosion in the port of Beirut. A year later, the shattered part of the city of Beirut and the lives of thousands of its citizens continue to be gravely affected by the fifth most powerful blast in human history.

The neighborhoods of Gemmayzé and Mar-Mikhael, considered as the haven of Beirut’s LGBTIQ society, were the most damaged by the blast. The relationships of many LGBTIQ individuals were ripped apart by the explosion. They were forced to leave their homes to seek shelter with family and friends who are not aware of their sexual orientation, let alone their love life.

On a scale comparable to the seven plagues of Egypt, the explosion accentuated an already weak economy, non-existent government support, a corrupt political system, not to mention an international health crisis due to the pandemic. Add homophobia and transphobia to this toxic mix.

LGBTIQ victims of the Beirut explosion are the forgotten among the forgotten. We should see them, listen to their stories, understand their fears, and help in any way possible.

For this project, I traveled to Beirut in June, met with and listened to 14 LGBTIQ individuals and families, wrote their stories in English and French.

Shattered Hearts fundraising campaign will share their stories online, giving a voice to their sorrows, their needs and their hopes, aiming to raise enough money to ease their pain.

Money raised by the Campaign will help provide crucial funding for each case where needed. All additional funds will go towards offering more aids and sharing further untold stories from the MOSAIC organization list, of which there are many.

Funds raised will be directed entirely to cover essential needs for the protagonists featured in the stories in this campaign. There will be no administration fees nor expenses deducted from the donations.