Joe King, a former Mr. Leather Europe, is on a mission to help a young 22-year-old lesbian woman from Uganda who has suffered severe homophobia and poverty.
According to King, Shadia has lived “a very brutal and difficult life in Africa because of her sexuality.”
Rejected by her family for being lesbian, she traveled to Kenya with her two-year-old son. But life was no better there as she fell victim to rape and was forced to live in the streets, often eating bath soap to survive.
Shadia came to King’s attention through a friend at the Refugee Coalition of East Africa. The Coalition works to help LGBTQ people who find themselves the object of persecution.
The organization has arranged for Shadia, her son and her step-sister to relocate to Manchester.
King, who was honored as Mr. Leather Europe in 2016, told Gay Star News recently, “My heart went out for her. The poor girl has been through hell.”
Calling Shadia ‘inspirational’ and ‘thoughtful’ in the face of horrific adversity, King launched a GoFundMe campaign to help raise funds for this new chapter in Manchester.
The young mother will be starting her life in a totally new country, with no friends, family or network to rely on.
Citing Pride season, King says he saw “an opportunity for the community to do something for someone and show what Pride is really about.”
King aims to show Shadia that she has a new family in the local LGBTQ community to help get her onto her feet as she begins a job search and takes her first steps in building a new life.
Perhaps an unlikely hero to an African refugee, King closes his appeal on GoFundMe writing, “Please help me support this amazing and inspirational woman and give what you can, no matter how small.”
Gay Star News reports he will meet Shadia at the airport in Manchester on Tuesday with a rainbow Pride flag.
As the current president of Manchester Leathermen, he plans to ask her to march with them in the Manchester Pride Parade this August.
“It makes you think,” he told GSN. “When we’re having parties and being ridiculous in the street, there’s another side to the community.”
“We’ve lost touch with what’s important sometimes,” he added.”We want to show her that she’s got a LGBTI family.”
Click over to the GoFundMe page for more information.