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In preparation for National Coming Out Day on October 11, Rainbow Railroad is launching a campaign to raise support and funding for LGBTQ+ people around the world who can't come out for fear of violence or punishment from their government.
Founded in 2006, Rainbow Railroad is the world's only international nonprofit devoted to helping LGBTQ+ people in danger find legal pathways to safety. The Toronto-based advocacy group is launching this campaign, called "Help Each Other Out," to provide greater resources for LGBTQ+ people who live in parts of the world where they face violence, harassment, and even death threats just for being who they are.
In a statement, Rainbow Railroad Executive Director Kimahli Powell says many LGBTQ+ people around the world are often living in hiding as a result of the persecution the community experiences.
"Right now, countless [LGBTQ+] people are forced to suffer in silence due to hateful laws that make them the target of state-sanctioned violence, persecution, and even death," Powell says. "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 [LGBTQ+] citizens."
While Powell says that "coming out is one of the most powerful ways [LGBTQ+] people can change hearts and minds," the organization wanted to use the October 11 observance to "remember and fight for those who are forced to live in hiding."
Those wanting to stand in solidarity with LGBTQ+ people forced into the closet are encouraged to change their Twitter icon to an anonymous rainbow avatar. After changing your icon, Rainbow Railroad is asking people to tweet out words of encouragement using the hashtag #HelpOthersOut. The hope is that LGBTQ+ people around the world will be able to see these messages and know they're not alone.
On Friday, Rainbow Railroad will also highlight three individuals from around the world for whom coming out meant facing violence, torture, and even jail. According to the organization, spreading these stories to raise awareness is the first step in seeking justice for victims of homophobia and transphobia.
Finally, Rainbow Railroad is asking for people to make contributions to the organization. Over the last decade, the advocacy group has assisted hundreds of people facing violence, bigotry, and oppression to seek asylum and shelter -- and currently has a $100,000 campaign goal to help continue that work. Donors can double the impact of their gift, as the New York City-based Calamus Foundation has pledged a matching gift up to $50,000 for this campaign.
No one should have to live in fear just for being themselves. Rainbow Railroad is helping to make that goal a reality, and this week, so can you.
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