Subhi was raised in a village outside of Idlib, Syira. In 2012, a militia group associated with Al Qaeda, stormed his town and began terrorizing locals, including the kidnapping and killing of gay men. Unable to stay in school, Subhi’s life at home became increasingly unbearable, as his own father began issuing threats, and later violent outbreaks. Afraid, Subhi fled to Lebanon, then Turkey, where he secured a job at Save the Children. As the war in Syria intensified, so did death threats against Subhi, including ones made by childhood friends affiliated with ISIS. Subhi was granted refugee status and was resettled in San Francisco in 2015. That same year, he testified before the United Nations Security Council on a special meeting of LGBTQ persecution in the Middle East. He was the first openly gay person to testify before the Security Council. Soon after, he founded an organization called Spectra Project to support LGBT refugees in the Middle East. Subhi currently lives in San Francisco where he works as a translator.
Junior Mayema grew up in Kinshasa, the capitol of the Democratic Republic of Congo. While studying law at the local university, Junior’s homosexuality became known and he began to feel increasingly targeted and threatened, even by members of his own family. Fleeing to South Africa, Junior volunteered for a refugee rights organization in Capetown. There, he faced continued homophobic name-calling, bullying and police harassment which prompted him to apply for refugee status from the United Nations. The U.N. expedited his case. Shortly after arriving in San Francisco, Junior began participation in UNSETTLED and allowed cameras to follow him for the next four years. Junior has resumed his education at City College in San Francisco where he is training to become a paralegal.
& MARI N’TIMANSIEME
Cheyenne and Mari are from Luanda, Angola where they met and fell in love over ten years ago. Working together as musicians, performers, and business entrepreneurs in Angola, they faced intense harassment in their home country: neighbors cut their power, killed their dog and bullied them in public. Fleeing to Capetown, South Africa, they unsuccessfully tried to secure refugee status in that country. After their visas expired, they returned to Angola where a family member attempted to poison their food. Quickly, they were able to secure student visas to the United States and began a three-year adjudication process to apply for asylum in California.