Meeting to provide support

Meeting to provide support

The unique challenges faced by gays and lesbians from Middle Eastern backgrounds have granted monthly social group Beit el Hob a special prominence in the community.

The social gatherings at the Newtown Hotel have long acted as an initial contact point for gays and lesbians of similar cultural backgrounds.

Event organiser Nicole Barakat said the social nights were initiated in 2003 as a means of keeping in touch with people who had entered a Queer Arabs float in the Mardi Gras parade.

It wasn’t until everyone converged in one place, Barakat added, that she realised how big the community was.

“The nights have become even more important now,” she said. “In the current climate of Arab-phobia, there is unfortunately a lot of hatred and a lot of racism that affects us.”

Barakat said Beit el Hob was a safe, comfortable, and social environment that gave people the opportunity to meet others from similar backgrounds.

“It has become a very casual and open event, and there are a couple of people who bring their families and friends,” she said.

“It is simply about people being able to come together in a relaxed and non-judgmental environment.”

Barakat said she hoped to add to the Beit el Hob social gatherings, with a community group that provided a queer-friendly and culturally specific referral service.

“By organising a group outside of the social group, we can actually represent ourselves and speak on behalf of ourselves,” she said.

“We haven’t established it yet, but would love to hear from anyone who may be able to contribute.”

Beit el Hob is on the first Thursday of every month, 8.30pm-11.30pm, upstairs at the Newtown Hotel. For more information email [email protected] or go to

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