Surat-Shaan Knan, has a lot of great stories to tell. On Saturday night he even grabbed some cell phone footage of Shakira making a surprise appearance on Miami Beach, when she came to pick up a cake that a friend of his had made for her. -- It may be the highlight of his time at the World OutGames. And that must be some good cake.
But Knan’s real collection is the eight-year oral history he’s managed to compile, under various projects like the Rainbow Jews, the Twilight People, and now the Rainbow Pilgrims. Knan is founder and manager of all three of these projects, which were funded by the UK’s National Lottery Heritage Fund.
“The fact that a program like this can be funded by the government, it’s unheard of for most people,” Knan said.
On Friday, Knan introduced his latest project, the Rainbow Pilgrims, to the World OutGames in Miami, and encouraged visitors to share their stories. – People like Blessing Braimah, who, fearing for her safety as an LGBT person migrated to the U.K. from Nigeria, and has worked with Shaan at various conferences.
The project explores the history of LGBTQI migrants in the U.K. from past to present. It examines the relationships between faith, sexuality, gender, and ethnicity and the identities we create from them.
The project is interactive, utilizing touring exhibitions, pop up symposiums, and educational, archival tools and techniques. With it, Knan, an interfaith, transgender activist, has become the caretaker of a diverse history. He is a board member of the World Congress of GLBT Jews, keshet l'dor vador. He is an Operation’s Committee member with the Cutting Edge Consortium (CEC), a group of organizations working to eliminate faith-based homophobia/transphobia and institutionalized prejudice towards LGBT people. Shaan has helped organize national events including the annual CEC Faith Homophobia & Transphobia and Human Rights Conference in London.
To learn more about the Rainbow Pilgrims project, or to share your story, look for rainbowpilgrims on Facebook, and @rainbowpilgrims on twitter.