VANCOUVER (CityNews) – Some call it a clash of cultures — an intersection where newcomers, allies, and the LGBTQ2S+ community collide. And the gay, Syrian refugee behind RBC Presents: An Evening in Damascus says it’s a beautiful mash-up.
“I do it because there are a lot of people who are like me, a lot of people who come from the Middle East, who come from all over the world and they come from places where their heritage and their queerness are divorced. And I don’t think that’s something we should put up with, I think that we are capable of creating that space for ourselves,” explained organizer Danny Ramadan.
The accomplished author is now hosting the 7th annual event at the Terminal City Club on Oct. 1. The fundraiser supports Rainbow Refugee, which brings persecuted community members to Canada.
The event will feature people from all walks of life, including strong allies.
“I’m proud that I get to live in between that intersectionality in between being half Black and half white, and I love being celebrated for that on stage. And I think the more spaces that we create where QTBIPOC performers and attendees feel safe, the better that our world can continue to develop,” said Kendall Gender.
The annual event has been widely popular within the community. It was forced to go virtual last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Ramadan and others are looking forward to welcome people back in-person this year.
“One of the things that was really missing was that interaction with the audience and having that shared sense of love, hope and excitement,” explained Rahel Claman, a belly dancer and Evening in Damascus performer.
“Some have never seen belly dancing before, some of them are from the culture so they get really into it. Danny always comes up and dances with me.”
Discounted community tickets are donated to refugees, those impacted by the refugee crisis, and LGBTQ2s+ people.
“So having a refugee who’s never met a drag queen standing there in front of the seven-foot-tall woman. Or having a white person who’s never tried Syrian spice taken aback and telling me, ‘Please tell what is this spice, how do I cook this food?’ It’s just beautiful,” said Ramadan.
“A lot of people had never seen drag performances before. So, it’s really cool to be that first exposure into the world. And yeah, I’m going to give it to them,” added Kendall Gender.
Ramadan believes his annual event is a bridge between cultures.
“And I can put all the carpets in the world and I can have all the drag queens that are out there, but if I didn’t actually allow that community to intermingle, it wouldn’t actually work.”
CityNews Vancouver and NEWS 1130 are proud media sponsors of An Evening in Damascus. You can buy tickets online.