LGBT organization raises awareness with benefit

A Queens-based lesbian and gay organization is hosting their second annual benefit party, “L.O.V.E is Love: Living Our Values Equally” at the C Bar and Lounge in Richmond Hill on Feb. 25. The Caribbean Equality Project is inviting Caribbean members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LBGTQ) community and allies to the celebratory event, for a day of education and entertainment because it is timely, said the event organizer.

“In the current times we are living in we have to continue talking about gay identity and the Caribbean community,” said Mohamed Q. Amin, organizer and founder of the Caribbean Equality Project.

We are having this intimate event to celebrate queer lives, Caribbean lives, trans identity, bisexuality — all of it.”

To counter the discrimination, the Caribbean Equality Project is aiming to reach out to New York’s Caribbean community inviting activists, experts, and storytellers to discuss several topics. The event will feature presentations on gay and immigrant rights, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), an art exhibition, an immigration segment, and a testimony from a gay couple. The hostile attitudes towards members of the queer Caribbean community from within, and the unique challenges they face separate them from other queer communities and there are several reasons why, said Amin.

“There are layers to this cycle of homophobia and religion plays a role,” he said. “Some pastors preach against it and as a whole — put more fear into their parishioners.”

And it is not just in the church, said Amin. Often times homophobia in music attaches an additional burden for queer people of Caribbean descent in social and public spaces, but it reaches far beyond music, even including the leadership in these countries maintaining, anti-buggery laws that overwhelmingly target them.

“It’s not just the music perpetuating it — I really think it’s our cultures as a whole, from religion, to the government,” said Amin. “The people in power can to eradicate laws affecting a large population of LGBT community.”

Amin says the organization aims to cover several aspects affecting the queer community, particularly the youth, and hoping it is of interest to people who want to learn more and support the LGBT community and decrease the misinformation.

“This event aims to break the misconceptions — we’re going to be talking about HIV and trans awareness, and all topics that people don’t talk about,” he said. “People shy away they don’t know the right terms to use, don’t want to be accused of being homosexual or trans but this is an educational experience. Homophobia has been in our music and social spaces and we are organizing advocacy against it.”

“L.O.V.E is Love: Living Our Lives Equally” at the C Bar and Lounge [87-22 Lefferts Blvd. between Jamaica and 89th avenues in Richmond Hill, www.caribbeanequalityproject.org, (347) 709-3179]. Feb. 25, 6–9 pm. $15.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com.

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