Comedy show raises funds to support LGBTQ migrants

No, I did not know that the first group of refugees from the caravan to arrive at the southern border of the U.S. in Tijuana last fall was a group of LGBTQ migrants. No, I did not know this group of about 500 chose to splinter from the larger caravan because they were being ostracized at best, treated violently at worst, by other people in the caravan.

At least, I didn't until I read it in a Facebook event listing for a benefit comedy show. I checked, and NPR had reported on it, but I still feel like here was a story about people marginalized by a marginalized community, and the story itself was being marginalized.

Local comedian Angie Healey didn't know, either, until told of the situation by fellow comedian Brooke Cartus and Cartus' partner, Duck Bardus, who sits on the board of Frontline Wellness, which provides health care and mental health services and training to those working on the front lines of social justice initiatives.

“Refugee Health Alliance is our partner organization, and we have a network of providers in Tijuana, or from the U.S. who travel there,” Bardus said in an interview at Two Truths, where Cartus and Healey will host Nothing But the Truth, a standup event to raise funds for Frontline. “We're buying meds in Mexico when we can, but one of the things that's actually more expensive there than in the U.S. is hormones for trans people. There are safe houses in Tijuana set up for specifically vulnerable populations, but those folks typically don't leave the safe houses because it's not safe, so they can't come to the clinic. So most of our contact with LGBTQ clients is at the safe houses via a mobile clinic, basically in a van.”

“We can't imagine what these people are going through, or even have the knowledge that this is even something that's necessary,” Healey said. “Especially during Pride, let's do something that can really help people.”

“And this is the best way we know how, to tell a bunch of dumb jokes,” Cartus added with a laugh.

A slate of LGBTQ comedians, including Ryan Provost, Gwen Sunkel, Olivia Smith, Bettina Hedwig and Pat Deering, will be featured at Nothing But the Truth.

“The past few months have made [the LGBTQ] community feel helpless, with some of the things the Trump administration is doing, and this is a concrete way to help people who are currently being demonized,” Cartus said.

“The issue is pretty intense for a comedy show, but people want to laugh. It's healing and empowering,” Bardus said. “The world is a big place, but we can make a difference in the face of all these headlines.”