When my partner and I came to Australia seeking protection 5 years ago, we were excluded from all communities (ethnic, refugee or queer) from whom we hoped to receive support because of the existing homophobia, racism, sexism as well as the lack of understanding of specific challenges that LGBTIQ refugees face. Needs like having inclusive services, understanding of sexuality in connection with asylum and trauma, peer support, have not been met until now. While the topic of LGBTIQ refugees does sometimes appear in the media, most often it represents gay men, while queer women remain invisible.
Having identified these gaps, I could not stand by but wanted to make a change. Currently, I am a PhD candidate writing my thesis on the lived experiences of queer refugee women that are viewed through the lens of trauma and agency. My primary goal is to create a community where women like myself belong and have peer support from other women who understand their experiences.
I currently have a group of 10 women with whom I am working individually sharing our stories and our knowledge. Many women are not connected to refugee community because of the existing homophobia. Neither they are connected to queer community for different reasons. For some, it is the survival shame and guilt, for some, it is being (not) able to come out after a long-life oppression and silencing.
Yet these women are strong and resilient who need a community to belong.
Seeing this need throughout my work with them, I plan to organise a 3-day retreat where all women can meet with each other as a group, where we can share our strengths with each other, empower each other, affirm our agency, and build the community where we belong.
You can help us
Our retreat will take place in January 2018 in Jervis Bay. I have already secured a small $500 grant from the GALFA foundation to cover the cost of accommodation and $200 from the Westpac foundation and Junket to cover some of the transportation costs.
Your support will help us cover the rest of the transportation costs (women live in VIC, ACT & NSW) as well as food and community building activities.
Your support is helping to create us a community we've been deprived of for so long. Thank you.
For more information on the research project go to https://tinyurl.com/y8djpn4b.
For more about myself and my story as a queer refugee woman listen to Queerstories podcast https://tinyurl.com/y9a7mp2s.