Sista Sista and LGBT+ History Month

January's Sista Sista social inclusion support session was shaped around February's LGBT+ History Month.
A picture of houses and trees, with a sun and clouds. The artist has written: "having my family" "My sister and family (nephews)"

Micro Rainbow runs a variety of regular support and social inclusion sessions for the LGBTQI refugees and asylum seekers it supports. Sista Sista is a support group for LBTQI refugee and asylum-seeking women who have experienced any forms of violence and abuse due to their sexuality. This group’s aim is to help women overcome the impact of gender-based violence, cope with changes, reduce isolation, make friends, and assist with integrating into a new life.

Sista Sista helps people like Sara, a lesbian refugee from Uganda, feel safe and able to share her experiences with other women:

“Sharing with the other women and through the workshops I could talk about things without reliving them, because I felt like I was in a safe space where people understood”.

Meeting monthly, Sista Sista offers a supportive space to share experiences with other refugees and asylum seekers. Sessions are informally shaped around a range of themes, including personal values, sex and sexuality, our bodies, emotions, community, culture and more. In the most recent session, attendees spent the sessions discussing LGBT+ History Month, happening in February.


LGBT+ History Month

LGBT+ History Month was launched in the UK by Schools OUT in 2004, with the aim of increasing the visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and to uncover previously untold stories. Every year, Schools OUT sets a different theme for LGBT+ History Month, and for 2023 the theme is #BehindTheLens.The Behind the Lens theme celebrates the contributions of LGBTQI people to cinema and film from behind the lens.

In January’s Sista Sista support group, we used LGBT History Month to frame the discussions amongst the attendees. Attendees were curious about the history and progress of LGBT rights in the UK, and how these compared to the situations in their own countries.


Personal histories

Sometimes it can be difficult to talk openly about personal histories when you have experienced trauma and persecution because of your gender presentation or sexuality. In Micro Rainbow’s support groups, attendees are given the space they need to talk about their experiences, but no-one is forced to dwell on their past if they don’t want to. In January’s session, we discussed the history of the LGBTQI rights movement across the world and particularly in the UK.

Attendees spoke about the Stonewall riot as a key moment in the LGBTQI rights movement, and the importance of acknowledging the trans women who played a key role in the fight for rights. We also discussed the impact laws against homosexuality had on men in the UK, particularly the mathematician Alan Turing, who is now remembered on the UK’s £50 bank note. This conversation led to the group reflecting on the situation for lesbian and trans women in different countries around the world, with some sharing more about the experiences of discrimination that led them to leave.

Future hopes

Micro Rainbow’s social inclusion workshops often incorporate creative elements to help beneficiaries express themselves in the sessions. This can be particularly helpful for attendees who struggle to communicate in English. In this session, the attendees used art materials to explore their hopes and dreams for the future. You can see some of the collages and pieces at the bottom of the page.

Go to the events page to find out when the next Sista Sista session is happening.

A drawing of two cats sat looking out of a window into the night sky
A drawn image of a woman on a path, with her black hair up, wearing a green dress and jewellery
A collage with Twenty Twenty free written on it

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Backs of two people

Jon and Marbilla’s story

The story of Jon and Marbilla’s journey to a Micro Rainbow safe house as Saudi LGBTQI asylum seekers.

Royal Court theatre with Sound of the Underground in lights

Trip to Sound of the Underground

In February we were invited to attend a showing of Travis Alabanza’s Sound of the Underground at the Royal Court theatre

Immersed in movement and art at the Tate Exchange

Immersed in movement and art at the Tate Exchange

The Tate Exchange was host to Micro Rainbow’s social inclusion programme in Spring 2019 giving LGBTQI asylum seekers and refugees the chance to create dance inspired by the world-famous artwork all around them.