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August 4th 2021


July 2024

Call for Nominations – The 519 Annual General Meeting 2024

June 2024

MEDIA ADVISORY: Communities to honour Torontonians lost to AIDS at the 40th AIDS Candlelight Vigil on June 25

Green Space Festival 2024: Accessibility

Neighbourhood Information: Green Space Festival 2024

May 2024

The 519 Pride Events Calendar 2024

April 2024

MEDIA ADVISORY: The 519 joins Rainbow Week of Action to march for LGBTQ+ refugee rights

November 2023

TDoR 2023: Statement from 2Spirit, trans, and non-binary youth / Déclaration des jeunes bispirituels, trans et non-binaires

September 2023

The 519 Board of Management Candidates 2023/24

July 2023

Notice of Annual General Meeting 2023

Call for Nominations – The 519 Annual General Meeting 2023

May 2023

[Media Advisory] The 519 Presents 'Enough is Enough!' a panel discussion addressing anti-2SLGBTQ+ hate

Pride 2023 at The 519: Upcoming Programs and Events

Green Space Festival 2023: Neighbourhood Information

[Media Advisory] Toronto’s queer and trans communities to protest against anti-2SLGBTQ+ hate on International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBT)

March 2023

Trans Day of Visibility: How can we commit to being visible allies?

[Press Release] The 519 to Honour Esteemed Author John Irving with Ally Award

International Women's Day 2023: Women, Life, Freedom

February 2023

Re: Sentencing of Colin Harnack in murder of Julie Berman

December 2022

The Trial of Julie Berman

In Solidarity with Ontario's Drag Performers

November 2022

City of Toronto, The 519, and Homes First Society announce Toronto’s first dedicated shelter for 2SLGBTQ+ adults

In Solidarity; A Community Vigil Honouring Colorado Victims and Survivors 

In Solidarity with Club Q

Public Statement on Trans Day of Remembrance (TDoR) 2022

Shattered Hearts, Healing Together

For 12 years and counting, Ian Abinakle has played the key role of producer of the Green Space Festival, The 519’s largest annual fundraiser that goes to support our year-round essential programs and services. In 2020, an unforeseen tragedy in Beirut took Ian back to his childhood home to tell the stories of Beirut’s LGBTQ+ communities, and soothe their shattered hearts. 

A year ago, on August 4, 2020, a massive explosion ripped through Beirut, the port city and capital of Lebanon. That night, over 200 lives were lost, and 6,500 people wounded in what was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in human history. 

Among the most impacted were the city’s LGBTQ+ communities. The neighbourhoods of Gemmayzé and Mar-Mikhael — considered as safe havens, and home to Beirut’s LGBTQ+ communities — were severely damaged. Within moments, lives and relationships were changed, and those who lost their homes were forced to seek shelter in non-affirming households — among family and friends. 

“From here, I watched in horror and helplessness as my childhood home collapsed, and I could not imagine the hardships our community members were facing in the wake of the pandemic and now the explosion,” Ian recalls. 

Through this anguish and the will to throw light on the struggles and resilience of Beirut’s queer and trans communities came the idea for 'Shattered Hearts' – an oral history project. On April 17, as a birthday gift to himself, Ian decided to travel to Beirut to tell their stories and fundraise for their recovery. 

Collage of a portrait of Ian and a photo of him recording a scene in Beirut
Left: Ian Abinakle; Right: Ian onsite at Beirut. 

Through June, Ian met with and interviewed 14 individuals who lived through that fateful evening. It was overwhelming to go through over 40 hours of video footage recounting the pain and suffering of these individuals. 

“Beirut’s LGBTQ+ victims of the explosion are the forgotten among the forgotten. We should see them, listen to their stories, understand their fears, and help in any way possible.” 

Most of Ian’s subjects identify as trans individuals, and the disproportionate levels of discrimination they have faced does not come as a surprise. There are others that have been seeking refuge in Lebanon, escaping violence and persecution in their neighbouring home countries. 

“In addition to the global pandemic, the explosion exposed and exacerbated an already weak economy, political corruption, and lack of government supports. Additionally, LGBTQ+ folks are subjected to homophobia, transphobia, gender, and racial discrimination,” Ian adds. 

Screengrab of a video interview with one of Ian's participants. Silhouette of a person against a light.
Screengrab from one of Ian's interviews with a participant of the project.

Through Shattered Hearts, Ian hopes to tell the stories of the people he met, as well as those of countless other people who are picking up the pieces a year later. “Funds raised through this project will help provide essential supports to our protagonists. All additional funds will help offer aid, and many other community members tell their untold stories, from their shattered hearts.”

“What can make life better? Having it return to the way it was before the explosion, getting a job and a place of my own. I dream of finding work, but for that I must move back to the city. I am ready to work hard and make enough money to afford my own place.” 

– Moudi, 38, a Shattered Hearts participant 


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