Fri, May 20, 2016 - Page 10 News List

Art for the queer and displaced

The Red Room’s fourth all-day, live art for a cause event will benefit LGBT Syrian refugees in Germany

By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

The Red Room has selected the Germany-based Queer Refugees Network Leipzig (QueeRNL) project as the beneficiary for the fourth installment of its all-day live art event, Artists Bridge The Gap, set for May 29.

photo courtesy of red room

Life is tough enough being a marginalized refugee in a new country — but when you are a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender refugee from a culture that does not approve of your orientation, you face a whole new level of fear and isolation.

Even before the Islamic State showed up and started killing suspected homosexuals, it had long been illegal to be gay in Syria — punishable by three years in jail.

“This is a situation that very few people are talking about,” Roma Mehta of the Red Room says. “But every time you mention it to somebody they are like, ‘It makes complete sense. Of course they would be even more marginalized.’”

The Red Room, which aims to provide a platform to bring together Taiwan’s creative community, has selected the Germany-based Queer Refugees Network Leipzig (QueeRNL) project as the beneficiary for the fourth installment of its all-day live art event, Artists Bridge The Gap, set for May 29.

As in the past, the event will feature artists creating work on the spot, along with live music and theater, food and activities to further connect attendees with the refugees they are helping.

The art will be auctioned at the end of the day, with all proceeds (and a portion of the entrance fee) going to QueeRNL to help relocate these refugees to safe shelters and provide integration programs as well as networking opportunities, financial aid and counseling.

Leah List, volunteer coordinator with Red Room, says she wanted to focus on a smaller non-governmental organization that focuses on a specific, oft-overlooked issue.

“Sometimes if you speak in vague terms, a lot of people disconnect a little,” she says.

There will be a video screening room where people can learn more about the lives of LGBT refugees and send them postcards, and List has worked with an artist to create a comic book about the topic that extends into the live theater piece. Red Room has also gathered a group of musicians to write and record a song, We Stand Tall, for the event.

“We are hoping to have the whole room sing the song, and we will record it and send it to them,” Mehta says.

List says the event is more than just a good cause — it is about building community, international exchange and creating opportunities — whether it be for the refugees, the artists or the attendees.

“And that’s how we are bridging gaps,” she says.

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