An Evening in Damascus to celebrate successes of LGBTQ+ refugees

An event that is now in its eighth year is making its return this September, this time to celebrate the successes of the many LGBTQ+ refugees it has helped over the years.

RBC Presents An Evening in Damascus takes place on Friday, Sept. 9. Proceeds from the event will, as with previous years, go to the Rainbow Refugee Society — which works to bring LGBTQ+ identifying refugees to Canada.

“The Evening in Damascus started in 2015, nine months after I arrived as a refugee to Canada. I wanted to pay it forward,” explained Danny Ramadan, the man behind the annual fundraiser, who himself is a refugee from Syria.

A belly dancer dances in front of a crowd of people wearing a gold outfit

He says the whole thing started off as a “tiny, little community-run event” which featured close friends, Syrian food, and a call for donations to help refugees find safe passage.

Now, several years later, the Evening in Damascus has become a “flagship fundraiser” across Metro Vancouver for Rainbow Refugee, with hundreds of attendees each year and a total of more than $250,000 raised to date.

“We have all been experiencing the past couple of years. It has been full of sadness and challenges for all of us. It has been a time of mourning, as well as reflection. So this year I really wanted to bring joy back into the picture,” Ramadan, an LGBTQ+ activist and author, said of this year’s theme.

“This year, instead of focusing on the sad stories that we stereotypically think of when we think of immigrants and refugees — like wars and destruction and those kind of challenges — I wanted to focus on joy and happiness and the beauty of managing to be both a Syrian and a Canadian person. The joy of walking that thin line and being so good at it,” he explained.

A man poses for a photo in front of a scenic lake background while holding a small black and white dog

“It’s about the successes that we bring into our lives as Canadians from our history as Syrians, from our history as immigrants, but also about all of those success stories — about those people who came here over the past years and now are beautiful Canadian citizens, supporting the community, being part of the mosaic that we call home here in Canada.”

In addition to celebrating refugees who’ve built new lives in Canada, An Evening in Damascus is also going to showcase Ramadan’s latest book

“I have been an author all of my life. I’ve published multiple books in Arabic before and I published my first novel here in Canada in 2017. I’m very proud that my next novel, the Foghorn Echoes, which comes out in September, is going to be launched in Vancouver during the Evening in Damascus,” Ramadan explained.

Read more about An Evening in Damascus:

He says a local, independent shop is being invited to the event to help sell his latest publication, with proceeds once again going back to those in need.

“My agreement with Penguin Random House is also that I am going to donate all of the proceeds that come to me and Penguin to the cause, to the Rainbow Refugee Society. I think it’s beautiful to be able to offer this space where people can buy my new book but also support an independent book seller and donate back into the cause that they care about a lot.”

An Evening in Damascus is being held at The Terminal City Club on Friday, Sept. 9 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. You can buy tickets here.

This event is proudly supported by CityNews.

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