Belly dancing, singing, and overeating are all on the agenda for Queer Arabs Australia’s second community picnic in Naarm/ Melbourne this Saturday.
The organisation’s founder Basem Kerbage said the event would be a “low-stress” way for queer Arab community members and allies to connect.
“What we’re going to be doing on the day is just a community get-together where we share food and sing, dance, listen to music, chat, talk about our Arab grandmothers, and then maybe do some practice of our belly dancing,” he said.
Kerbage said it was important to create a space where LGBTQIA+ Arabs could celebrate all intersections of their identities.
“There’s not a lot of spaces where we can have both our queer and Middle Eastern and North African cultures combined,” he said.
Following the success of their first community picnic, Queer Arabs Australia member and interpreter Mikhael said he hoped the group would grow to feel “like a big family”.
“I’m just excited for that sense of belonging and being at home with all of the people who look like me, who speak the same language,” he said.
With the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Mikhael said the event was an opportunity for the Middle Eastern community to continue building solidarity and support during a difficult time.
“Even though I don’t have family in Palestine, I feel like it’s an extended part of our families,” Mikhael said.
“There’s a lot of pinkwashing happening. So this is our opportunity to say ‘no’ queer Arabs do exist’ and they’re not going to be killed because someone says so,” Kerbage said.
Kerbage created Queer Arabs Australia in December 2023, after noticing the absence of an Arab float at the Sydney World Pride parade.
This year, Kerbage is hoping to change that: he’s organised a float in both the Melbourne Midsumma Pride March, and the Sydney Mardi Gras.
Queer Arabs Australia is hosting the picnic 1 pm-6 pm on Saturday, February 6, at Fitzroy Gardens. Family, friends, and allies are all welcome to attend.