No matter where she is, Seagirl Abuson always has her heart and mind on her community. In her journey as a refugee, an activist and human rights defender, she strives to make the world better for LGBTQ+ folks like herself. “My goal has always been for my gender to be valid,” she says. “For me, for others like me, for the younger generation to be happy – I want to make a difference.”
Seagirl Abuson left home in Uganda at 13 years old, after meeting her first boyfriend. She no longer felt safe in their community because of who she was. Uganda is one of 72 countries with legislation against diverse sexuality, gender identity and expression. Despite the hardship, Seagirl Abuson was on a journey to realize and celebrate her true self. After seeking asylum in Kenya, she moved to Kakuma Refugee Camp, where she met other LGBTQ+ refugees like her. To bring attention to their rights and rally for support, she helped organize the first pride parade in a refugee camp. However, with visibility comes vulnerability, and the campaign encountered numerous threats of violence. (Video interview from SABTV)
During this time, Seagirl Abuson connected with a sponsorship group from Canada and she relocated to Victoria in 2019. She found the move to Canada very supportive, but still needed help settling, getting used to the community and finding friends. Early on, she made contact with the ICA’s Youth and Family Services team where she reconnected with her goals and ambitions. “It gave me a chance to see my future, to see myself in 5 years,” she explains. “I never felt judged or that I’m not a part of this society. ICA made me feel like a person, a human being.”
While Seagirl Abuson feels grateful to have settled in a place where homophobia is not as aggressive, she says she is still fighting discrimination in Canada. “I was looking for work a few months ago, and someone asked ‘Where are you going to find work with your nails?’” Her activism has taken on a local purpose, fighting for her right to present her gender as she sees fit. “If this is still the issue here, then I have a long way to go. If I am still not accepted for who I am, I will never keep quiet.” Seagirl Abuson continues to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ issues and #BlackLivesMatter, as well as raising money for her LGBTQ+ community in East Africa.
ICA is proud to support Seagirl Abuson and other LGTBQ+ newcomers as we work to create a community that is accepting and inclusive.