They’re waving more than just Caribbean flags!
The Caribbean Equality Project, one of the city’s leading LGBTQ voices, is a dominant force for the Caribbean LGBTQ community, helming their issues and bringing them to the forefront.
Executive Director Mohamed Q. Amin says the goal of the Queens-based organization is to reshape and diversify the narratives of what it means to be Caribbean and also be LGBTQ. The group is one of the most visible organizations advocating for its particular demographic.
“Our main focus has always been providing support for the Caribbean LGBT community, and also educating the general community on who we are as a population,” said Amin, who is of Guyanese descent.
Through a series of monthly events, he and his team of board members create various types of programming to ensure members find the support they need.
“We do that in several ways by advocating, community organizing, education, and cultural and social programming,” he said. “All of this is dedicated to cultivating a supportive and progressive Carib community that is free of violence, oppression, and discrimination.”
Amin co-founded the group in 2015 after he and his family were victims of a hate crime in Richmond Hill. He recalls the experience as a wakeup call to himself, and an opportunity to use the the attention the case drew to offer other victims the support and solace he did not immediately find.
“CEP was a founded in response to an anti-LGBT hate crime family and I survived; it was one of first times an LGBT hate violence was recorded and the media heavily highlighted the incident,” said Amin.
He says the incident and recovery process showed him the desperate need for a Caribbean-focused group for LGBT members, because as he tried to find one to help him heal, Amin found that no such organization existed.
“It took me and my family about a year and and a half to heal from the incident, and we went to different family and individual therapy, and I attended a lot of counseling,” he said. “For the first time we realized there was no organization focusing on educating, counseling, the mental health, safety, and wellness of Caribbean LGBT.”
To ensure the Caribbean Equality Project maintains its mission, Amin arranges the monthly support group meetings. The once-a-month meetup called “Unchained” is one of the first types of programming the group held, along with “Knowing Matters” — a sex education series.