TORONTO — Rainbow Railroad, an organization devoted to LGBTQ people in danger find legal pathways to safety, launched the #HelpOthersOut campaign last week.
#HelpOthersOut is a social media initiative to raise public awareness and funds for LGBTQ people who face persecution, violence, and the threat of death in many countries around the world where it remains a crime to be LGBTQ, the organization said in a press release. The campaign was launched in advance of National Coming Out Day.
Rainbow Railroad is encouraging people on social media to change their profile pictures to the “anonymous avatar” to symbolize the queer people for whom it remains impossible to come out due to the threat of violence, persecution, and death. Social media participants are also encouraged to share a message of support for the LGBTQ people living in the darkness of danger.
On Friday, Rainbow Railroad will highlight the stories of three individuals for whom coming out meant facing extreme violence, torture or jail. They will talk about what it feels like to finally be safe to come out.
Along with spreading the message, people can also make contributions to Rainbow Railroad. Supporters are also being asked to contribute to the $100,000 campaign goal. The Calamus Foundation, a foundation which supports LGBTQ issues, will match donations up to $50,000.
Supporters can learn more and take action at http://rainbowrailroad.org/helpothersout.
“Right now, countless LGBTQI people are forced to suffer in silence due to hateful laws that make them the target of state-sanctioned violence, persecution, and even death,” said Rainbow Railroad Executive Director Kimahli Powell. “It’s up to each of us to ‘Help Others Out’ by calling attention to the many countries around the world that puts a target on the backs of their LGBTQI citizens. Coming out is one of the most powerful ways LGBTQI people can change hearts and minds — this Coming Out Day we celebrate those who can safely be who they are, while we remember and fight for those who are forced to live in hiding.”
The organization announced the campaign the same day that Uganda announced it would reintroduce a “Kill the Gays” bill.