Gender and Sexuality
“I Thought We Had No Rights” – Challenges in Listening, Storytelling, and Representation of LGBT Refugees
Storytelling serves as a vital resource for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans* (LGBT) refugees’ access to asylum. It is through telling their personal stories to the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board that LGBT refugees’ claims for asylum are accessed and granted. Storytelling also serves as a mechanism for LGBT refugees to speak about social injustice within and outside of Canada. In this article, I explore the challenges of storytelling and social justice as an activist and scholar. I focus on three contexts where justice and injustice interplay in LGBT refugee storytelling: the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board, public advocacy around anti-queer violence and refugee rights, and oral history research. I describe how in each arena storytelling can be a powerful tool of justice for LGBT refugees to validate their truths and bring their voices to the forefront in confronting state and public violence. I investigate how these areas can also inflict their own injustices on LGBT refugees by silencing their voices and reproducing power hierarchies.
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