Escaping Terror to Become My True Self

Three years ago, while leaving an underground LGBT club in Beirut, Lebanon, I was kidnapped. After being held blindfolded in the back seat of a car for almost 24 hours, my two male kidnappers threatened, intimidated, and physically abused me.

My kidnapping happened shortly after I found the courage to start discovering my authentic self as a transgender woman.

After I escaped the ordeal and the authorities found out about it, things got even worse. The police started harassing me nonstop, calling me in for interrogations day and night.

They tried to force me to disclose the names of other people at the party, to uncover and target the underground LGBT community in Lebanon. But I resisted. I survived!

After a year of planning and with a little bit of luck, I fled Lebanon. I moved to San Francisco and found the SF LGBT Center – a place where I found the courage to publicly be myself. The Center helped me come out as a proud transgender woman and provided me with the supportive community I had longed for.

I became a volunteer at the Center, and during that time, the Center staff mentored me through my transition process. The Center’s amazing Information & Referral program connected me to health care, counseling, legal support, and advice on employment and asylum.

Honestly, I consider myself one of the lucky ones. Just like me, there are thousands of people coming to San Francisco every day desperately seeking support and resources, and it is impossible to make it here on your own without the support of places like the Center.

Over 100,000 visitors walk through the Center’s doors each year to connect with one another and to find resources. The Center connects more than 10,000 people each year to mental and other health services, HIV/AIDS services, immigration, and other life-saving resources.

As the current political climate threatens the most vulnerable members of our community, I hope that you join me in supporting the Center to meet a growing demand for services.

I am so excited that the Center’s renovation is complete and that it is now open to its full capacity!

The API Wellness primary care clinic on the 4th floor is newly open and Bay Area Legal Aid on the 3rd floor provides much needed legal services. Visitors facing similar challenges to mine can now have many of their needs met under one roof during one stop. I feel incredibly proud to call our Center “home.”

We could not have arrived at this moment without you. You, more than anyone, understand the vital role the Center plays.

We are the only organization in the city working across the full spectrum of the LGBTQ community on a broad range of issues. Without you, we could not help over 3,000 people find jobs, secure affordable rental housing, purchase their first homes, and grow their small businesses. We would also not be able to support over 400 youth annually, primarily helping them get off the streets and find housing.

You are joining us on the front lines, combating transgender discrimination in the workplace, helping alleviate the housing crisis, and providing a vast array of life-saving connections for the entire community.
Thank you.

Because of the Center, I am incredibly proud of how far I have come. With a steady job, I now feel more secure, and I have plans to start a career in philanthropy because my experience taught me that nothing is more important than taking care of the most vulnerable members of our community.

Thanks to you, I know that the Center will be here if I need support again. But most importantly, it will be here for future generations of LGBTQ people.

Contact Person: 
SF LGBT Center