House of Guramayle | a safe space for the Ethiopian LGBTIQ+ community

Our Story

The name House of Guramayle is of enormous cultural and political value to us. Home is somewhere anyone can seek refuge and shelter in. The idea of a home that always has its doors open for those who need a safe space is something we hold very dearly to our hearts. House of Guramayle as a platform itself has always had the vision of a safe space for the Ethiopian LGBT+ community.

As Ethiopian LGBTIQ+ identifying individuals born and raised in Ethiopia, our lives were filled with feelings of constant inadequacy. We never experienced a sense of belonging to our society because we were brought up to believe that as an Ethiopian, you can never claim any other identity. We created House of Guramayle for people who feel as marginalised as we did growing up, envisaging it as a home that anyone can seek refuge and shelter in.

As for Guramayle, it is the art of merging superficial divides and is of enormous cultural and political value to us. It means reclaiming our Ethiopian identities from those who would exclude us, through embracing our personal choice to live our lives freely. Guramayle means finding yourself again; to us, it represents survival.

About us

House of Guramayle is co-founded by Ethiopian LGBTIQ+ community members and allies based around the world, including in the UK, Austria and the USA

Bahiru Shewaye

Bahiru Shewaye

Bahiru is an Ethiopian film-maker in exile in the UK. When he lived in Ethiopia, Bahiru advocated for the end of discrimination against the LGBTIQ+ community. He focused on creating a community, arranging trusted doctors for LGBTIQ+ people to go to and fundraising for LGBTIQ+ people in crisis. In the UK, he has worked as a creative director for an ad agency.

Faris Cuchi

Faris Cuchi

Faris is an intersectional LGBTIQ+/human rights activist based in Vienna, who oversees House of Guramayle’s activities in Austria. He is the co-host and creator of the Alen Show, which dismantles dishonest information about the Ethiopian LGBTIQ+ community one episode at a time. Faris is a computer science graduate and has worked as an IT expert with the INGO PSI-Ethiopia. He is also a Salzburg Global Seminar Fellow.

Zelly Lisanework

Zelly Lisanework

Zelly is a UK-based British Ethiopian poet, writer, artist, theatre maker and human rights activist whose work tries to make sense of the injustices in our world whilst also celebrating the beauty to be found. Born and raised in Addis Ababa, she moved to the UK in 2000 and graduated with a bachelors degree in Drama from the University of Lincoln in 2011. Zelly is a regular performer and speaker at events, her story was filmed in June 2019 by the BBC as part of their Pride Month features for their digital content news section. Zelly is also a published author.

Robel Hailu

Robel Hailu

Robel leads on House of Guramayle’s activities in the USA from Washington D.C. He is the co-founder and director of support and advocacy group Ethiopian LGBTI. Robel is also one of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2018 Global Innovators and took part in the Mr. Gay World competition in 2012. 

Amrote Assefa

Amrote Assefa

Amrote is based in the UK, where she is a business and management professional with an MBA. Amrote has extensive experience working with corporate and international non-governmental organizations. She currently works at an international charity, focused on strategic supply chain standards and systems management. 

Do you need help?

We have a directory of resources for Ethiopian LGBTIQ+ community members in danger.

Resources