by ORAM Staff

Gay Syrian refugee Subhi Nahas, who spoke before the United Nation’s Security Council’s first-ever LGBT meeting in New York in August, shared his story to community leaders at a small gathering benefiting the Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration during the evening of October 15.

It was a successful evening with more than 50 guests enjoying an elegant night benefitting ORAM at the home of Al Baum and Robert Holgate in San Francisco.

Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration’S Subhi Nahas, left, a gay Syrian refugee, and guest Michael Colbruno, right, at the ORAM benefit in San Francisco on October 15, 2015. (Photo: Michael Colbruno)

Guests listened intently as ORAM board member attorney Frederick Hertz interviewed Subhi about speaking before the U.N. Security Council, the situation for LGBTI refugees in the Middle East, and ORAM’s work.

Ali Khoie, a gay Iranian refugee and Neil Grungras, executive director of ORAM, followed the interview speaking about his experience as a gay Iranian refugee and ORAM’s work, respectively.

Subhi spoke about his first-hand account as a gay man escaping from Syria at the beginning of the country’s civil war searching for a safe place to live and speaking before the UN Security Council.

Subhi was joined by gay Iranian refugee Ali who also shared his experiences as a refugee escaping persecution in his country.

The two men, who now live in San Francisco and work for ORAM, both spoke about their experiences living in Turkey, a country that is highly volatile and hostile to LGBTI people and refugees.

Neil joined the conversation providing an on-the-ground perspective of the organization’s work assisting refugees and training professionals in the field to be sensitive to LGBTI refugees. He also spoke to the attentive group about ORAM’s strategies to continue working on behalf of vulnerable refugees, like LGBTI people who are escaping persecution, in the future.

“The situation for LGBT refugees is so desperate,” said Fred. “Supporting ORAM is one of the few ways we can help those who need the help so badly.”

It was an inspiring evening with a strong turnout.

“People were touched by their stories,” said Peter Altman, the new director of ORAM’s San Francisco office, describing an “enthusiastic” vibe that filled the evening. “People were really listening intently and taking in the information. There is a lot of appreciation for the work.”

Guests mingled with Ali, Neil, and Subhi enjoying homemade Middle Eastern fare and sipping wine and listening to music performed by guitarist Noam Smooha.

“I felt reassured that there are people who care about the fate of the LGBT refugees,” said Fred.

Ali agreed. He was touched by the number of attendees who came to the event and the people he spoke with, but most of all Fred’s message to the group when he told the crowd that, “saving imperiled LGBT refugees is now the new frontier for LGBT rights having secured marriage equality.”

Thank you to our guests for their kind donations and to Al and Robert for generously opening their home and support of ORAM’s work.

Couldn’t make it to the event? Check out ORAM’s website for upcoming events. Want to make a donation to ORAM? Click here.