For Lauryn Kronick and Jacqie Lucas, their upcoming benefit concert, A Luta Continua, isn’t just a way to raise money for LGBT safe-house programs in Uganda—it’s also a way for Toronto’s queer community to show solidarity with one half a world away. The proceeds will benefit Gender Equality and Health Organization Uganda, a group that provides safe houses for gay Ugandans who have been driven out of their communities.
LGBT people in Uganda face extreme discrimination. Homosexuality is punishable by life in jail, and violence is a constant threat.
“GEHO provides a place for about 180 LGBT Ugandans who’ve been kicked out of their homes and communities for their sexual orientation,” says Kronick. “Lately, they’ve been getting requests for more and more help. They run three safe houses, and they’re going to be holding pride celebrations later on this month.”
GEHO was started by Andrew Waiswa, a gay refugee from Uganda who lived in Toronto for several years before returning to his homeland to help his fellow Ugandans fight for their rights.
Some of the money will also go to help a GEHO Uganda volunteer who was attacked for her work earlier this year and now faces steep medical bills.
“She was tricked into meeting a woman off the internet, who she suspected was queer identified,” Kronick. “She was attacked by a group of women and left for dead. Now she can’t afford to pay her medical bills…GEHO is in a position where they need a lot of awareness and support.”
The event will feature a diverse range of artists, including burlesque performers, singer/songwriters, electronic music producers, and a Zambian rapper named Chansa.
“I’m a board member of Pride Toronto, so I have a really diverse roster of contacts,” Kronick says. “Chansa is a Zambian rapper. He’s not queer identified, but he’s very supportive. He moved here about two years ago, and the situation in Zambia is very similar to that in Uganda, so it’s great to get support from allies included.”
Kenickie Street will be doing a burlesque performance at the show. She says Toronto’s queer community is a fairly fortunate one compared to LGBT communities around the world, and that lending support to people in places like Uganda is the least she can do.
“We have only just begun to fight for global same-sex rights, and all Toronto wants to do is party and cluster together in their sexuality cliques,” Street says. “Canada got what it needed, screw the rest of the world? I think not. I will continue to fight for global same-sex rights because someone fought for mine.”
“To see so many artists willing to donate their time for this event warms my heart.”
Kronick says that A Luta Continua is part of a bigger effort to forge links between Toronto’s queer community and Uganda’s.
“There was an event in support of GEHO at Glad Day last month. Jacqie [Lucas, A Luta Continua's co-organizer] has done work through her film festival, Doc Out, to help them,” she says. “Things are still really difficult in Uganda, and it’s important that the international community knows what’s going on there so we can fundraise and advocate for them.”
This post originally misspelled Lauren Kronick’s last name. It also misstated the name of Jacqie Lucas’s film festival: it’s Doc Out, not Inside Out.