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A Pride Message to LGBTI Refugees

As director of the African Human Rights Coalition I want to send this message to all the LGBTI refugees currently in countries around the world, and also to those unjustly criminalized in detention, simply because of who they love - with a special shout out to the LGBTI community we serve in Kakuma Camp, Kenya, Dzaleka, Malawi and other camps around Africa, as well as those refugees in risky urban shelters: On this coming Sunday 25th June, joining the San Francisco Pride Board Resistance Contingent will be over 50 LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees, helping to lead this years San Francisco Pride Parade down Market Street, San Francisco in the USA. Millions of people will line the streets or be watching TV broadcasts. We will be marching with you in our hearts. Those marching with us are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals who have gone through the same long arduous process that you are still enduring with great suffering - some of you for many years now. We are marching for our own PRIDE, to RESIST homophobia and transphobia, and to celebrate newfound freedom for many, and most importantly at this difficult time to draw attention to YOUR plight and YOUR suffering as you hope for and await your resettlement and your own freedom. Pride events all around the world serve a myriad of purposes - and as a beacon of hope. Pride Parade is the light carried by millions of people around the world, that extends to you in your place of darkness - sending hope and reminding you that soon you too will be free to live your sexuality and gender identity to its fullest. With this message from here in San Francisco, we say - stay strong, stay safe, stay proud. Keep the focus on your process so that you too will join us in the years ahead, and you too will have the opportunity to shine the light for others. We will keep going with PRIDE until such time this world sees us and treats us all with the dignity and respect that is our most basic human right. We are marching to resist the walls that the Trump administration has tried to put in your way! To resist the U.S. Muslim travel bans and the refugee program suspensions that were used in an attempt to keep you out. We won't let that happen. So far we are winning and we will continue to RESIST to ensure we keep winning. We are marching for our own freedom and we are marching in the hope that you will soon see yours.

As Vice President of San Francisco Pride Board - I am so proud we have provided this important platform. In solidarity - and with much love -

A luta continua, vitória é certa Melanie Nathan.

With special thanks to our colleagues at Jewish Family and Children Services of the East Bay and Guardian Group who will be marching with us.

I also want to send a special thanks to all agencies -- RSC Africa, UNHCR, HIAS and accepting Embassies - who are working toward the best interests of LGBTI people in Africa- we know your task is daunting!

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