Syrian refugee to share his story during Kelowna’s pride parade

Anas Qartoumeh, a gay Syrian refugee, will be this year’s Grand Marshal for the Pride March.

Anas Qartoumeh, a gay Syrian refugee, will be this year’s Grand Marshal for the Pride March.

“Anas has been on an extraordinary journey to get to here,” said Dustyn Baulkham, Past President of Kelowna Pride. “He reminds us of what is still unfortunately happening to LGBT2Q+ people in some parts of the world. At Pride, we march for those who are not able to live as their authentic selves.”

READ MORE: THE BANK OF MONTREAL SHOWS ITS PRIDE

Anas had to hide his identity his whole life. He grew up in the conservative culture of Damascus, where being gay is not only stigmatized by society, but also criminalized. He would often watch Pride parades on TV and dreamed of moving to Canada, where he could be himself. However, when war broke out in Syria, the risks of being gay escalated. Word spread that members of the LGBT2Q+ community were being thrown off buildings by ISIS. Anas finally fled to Lebanon and then Iraq.

“I would love to deliver this message to conservative parents in the middle east and across the world.” said Anas. “Being gay is not a choice. And some of your kids might be afraid to come out to you. Please learn from Canada. Embrace and accept your kids and let them choose you as the first person to come out to.”

After waiting on a refugee application for some time, Anas finally found Rainbow Refugees (a Vancouver-based non-profit organization), who helped him connect with the group that sponsored him, the Central Okanagan Refugee Committee (CORC). On Nov. 23, 2017, Anas arrived in Kelowna to a group of his sponsors waving rainbow flags and welcoming him to Canada. Just over eight months later, Anas feels settled in the community and is enjoying his job as an accountant at KPMG.

Anas will share his story at Stuart Park before the Pride March on Saturday, Aug. 18.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaNewsKat
kmichaels@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce celebrates 125 years

The organization has outlasted 16 Canadian prime ministers

Revelstoke Grizzlies need homes for players

The hockey season is scheduled to start in November

PHOTOS: Celebrating art and community during a pandemic

LUNA RE-IMAGINED took place in the back alleys of Revelstoke Sept. 25-27

Okanagan College names two new board members

Andrea Alexander and JoAnn Fowler have been appointed for one-year terms to the board

Okanagan whisky lottery adds new twists

Winners of Okanagan Spirits’ Laird of Fintry lottery announced in four batches beginning Sept. 28

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

B.C. VOTES 2020: Echoes of HST in B.C. debate over sales tax

Cannabis, tobacco, luxury cars still taxed in B.C. Liberal plan

Shuswap BC SPCA launches spay/neuter program for low-income residents

Program available to low-income residents in the region

More victims possible in Okanagan assault case

Vernon police have a man in custody but feel there could be more victims in the case

She warned her son about toxic drugs, then he was dead

Donna Bridgman’s son died at the age of 38 in Vancouver

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. food and beverage producers set record sales in 2019

Farmed salmon again leads international exports

Known Kelowna Hells Angels associate to face trial in October

Colin Michael Bayley is set to stand trial next month for an alleged aggravated assault

RCMP seeking witnesses to fatal Peachland motorcycle crash on Highway 97

One person died following a motorcycle crash south of Peachland on Sunday afternoon

Most Read