By Andrea Nandoo
The time to support the vibrant creativity of the NYC Caribbean LGBTQ+ community is now! Given the global political climate, many Caribbean LGBTQ+ immigrants often face violence, abuse, and overall misrepresentation within our workplace, schools, and media.
The discrimination against this Caribbean minority group also lies within our own families and religious groups, causing queer and trans individuals to further isolate themselves or having to scout for a “chosen” family. We all deserve to find love and be accepted by our social circles, so why are our LGBTQ+ siblings still suffering? How can we uplift and support this small, marginalized group? Fortunately, the Caribbean Equality Project (CEP), a non-profit Queens-based organization, is committed to bringing justice and empowerment to all LGBTQ+ Caribbean people. To showcase the incredible strength and artistic abilities of this diverse community, the Caribbean Equality Project will be hosting their 5th Annual L.O.V.E. benefit, on Saturday, February 22nd, 2020.
The Caribbean Equality Project (CEP) was founded in 2015 by queer and Muslim Immigrant Rights activist, Mohamed Q. Amin in response to being involved in a violent hate crime in Richmond Hill, Queens. Being the only educational-based agency serving the Caribbean-American and immigrant LGBTQ+ community in New York City, the CEP focuses on advocating for queer people on a neighborhood and community level. Help CEP celebrate their 5th anniversary of programming and organizing by attending this year’s L.O.V.E. event!
The L.O.V.E. benefit, also known as Living Our Values Equally event, is a transformative evening curated to celebrate and affirm the intersections of Caribbean queerness and gender identities. Throughout the night, you will witness powerful readings, poetry, storytelling, and performing arts that beautifully illustrate the intersectionality of this community. Performing this year will be the well-accomplished writer and activist, Staceyann Chin, who will be reading from “Crossfire: A Litany for Survival.” Caribbean singer-songwriter, Nhojj, will also be performing his internationally acclaimed songs about love and acceptance. Expect to be wowed by the multicultural performances by NYC’s finest Caribbean drag queens, Jahlisa A. Ross and Detoxx Bústi-ae. Representing the colorful and faithful Indo-Caribbean community are professional dancers Sandari-The Indian Goddess and Rajeev Singh. Sandari-The Indian Goddess aka International Dancer Zaman, one of the survivors of the 2013 Richmond Hill hate crime, is one of the few Indo-Caribbean drag queens in NY and also performs with Rajeev Singh in their dance group, Taranng Dance Troupe (Waves of the Future).
The L.O.V.E. benefit will additionally feature a panel discussion with professionals that belong to the Caribbean LGBTQ+ community; to talk on topics of mental health, gender-based violence, HIV education, and transgender advocacy. This panel will include the influential voice of trans activist Sai Ali, who is CEP’s co-facilitator of the “Unchained” support group and the Lead Organizer of the organization’s Trans Justice Group. Guest panelist Antoine B. Craigwell, a certified mental health instructor who focuses on the underlying factors of depression and suicide in Black gay men, will also be attending and answering questions from the audience. Also in attendance and considered a “community hero” is Shivana Jorawar, a queer organizer and co-director of Jahajee Sisters, a survivor-centered nonprofit fighting against domestic and gender violence. This year, the L.O.V.E. benefit will be hosted by the creators of queer Caribbean podcast, “Stush an’ Bush,” Robert and Khadieme. Self-identifying as two afro-queeribbean blackademics, Robert and Khadieme are prominent voices on sexual and gender liberation.
With the night overflowing with queer and trans Caribbean art, education, and love, you do not want to miss out! This culturally remarkable event will take place at the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning on Saturday, February 22nd, 2020, from 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM. This is a benefit for the volunteer-based Caribbean Equality Project to fund the migration fees for Caribbean LGBTQ+ undocumented asylum seekers. While the suggested donation is $25, which includes dinner, no one will be turned away at the event for their inability to pay. You can buy your tickets now using this link (https://CEPlove2020.eventbrite.com) or if you cannot attend, but would still like to donate, please use this link (http://bit.ly/CEP_LOVE2020). For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, call (347) 709-3179 or visit www.caribbeanequalityproject.org.
(This article was written by Andrea Nandoo, a queer and Caribbean activist and writer. After earning her MBA at SUNY New Paltz in 2017, she has used her writing and content creation skills to uplift the LGBTQ+ community and various small businesses.)