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06 Apr 2020


Refugees and migrants in the LGBTIQ community supported through powerful storytelling

Stigma and persecution surrounding gender identity or sexual orientation can sometimes lead to a person being forced to flee their home country. LGBTIQ people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds can often feel socially isolated, disconnected and marginalised from their family, religious group and the broader community.

‘Carpet Stories’ aims to empower the narrative of Middle Eastern Australians and refugees seeking liberation by bringing LGBTIQ stories from multicultural Australia into the spotlight. Held to a packed-out audience at the intimate PYT Fairfield in early March, the two-man performance piece featured Najee Tannous and Mustafa Al-Mahdi, directed by Martin del Amo.

“Carpet Stories is a courageous step into opening up the discussion around the Queer Refugee community,” said show creator and performer Najee Tannous. “It lays bare the accounts of firsthand experiences; unveiling the complex layers of Arabian culture, religious practice and family history”.

Mr. Tannous was quick to acknowledge the collaboration with SSI Arts & Culture and the Gender and Sexual Diversity Working Group, saying it was an important connection to make in furthering the development of Carpet Stories.

“SSI’s support of the second development of Carpet Stories has become an integral part of the show’s fabric, and for this, we continue to create and extend the vulnerable exploration of the ‘Queer Arab’ narrative,” said Mr. Tannous

PYT Fairfield Executive Director Katy Green Loughrey echoed Najee’s sentiment, saying that they were thrilled to be able to partner with SSI on this.

“This partnership represents an unmatched opportunity to support LGBTIQ communities through creative practice while raising awareness among our combined networks,” said Katy. “As both organisations share a humanitarian focus in their work and are deeply connected with their local, CALD communities, this partnership is a natural fit.”

The captivating 30-minute performance was followed by a Q+A session with the artists, who talked about the creation process and the opportunities ahead, weaving into the lived experiences of refugees in Australia. The session gave members of SSI’s Gender and Sexual Diversity Working Group, and other members of the audience, a chance to contribute to the discussion.

“The SSI GSD Working group is actively addressing the invisibility of LGBTIQ clients and participants, particularly within the settlement sector,” said SSI Gender and Sexual Diversity Champion, Kathi McCulloch. “It is important to show multicultural Australia that SSI supports everyone and that we amplify the voice of LGBTIQ multicultural communities through creative, interesting and engaging initiatives, such as this partnership with PYT Fairfield.”

The SSI Arts & Culture team looks forward to continuing developing this partnership and advocating for everyone’s voice to be heard on our stages and throughout Australia’s community life.

Follow SSI Arts & Culture on Facebook for all updates on how SSI is supporting diverse and creative communities.

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