From giving refuge to offering makeup sessions, Helem is an umbrella for some of Lebanon’s most marginalised people
Tucked away in a quiet neighbourhood of Beirut, Helem, the first community centre for LGBTQI+ people in the Arab world, opens its doors every day from midday to evening. Everyone is welcome.
Inside, in a study bathed by the afternoon sunshine, Wael Hussein, a 24-year-old gay man, is chatting with Naya, a transgender woman, ahead of International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB) on Thursday. Behind the two is a bookcase filled with donated titles, including Les Amantes by French lesbian writer Jocelyne François.