How a Seattle man became a lifeline for persecuted LGBTQ people in other countries
Updated 4:21 AM ET, Sun November 28, 2021
This is part of a CNN series, "The Helpers," which seeks to showcase people who are going the extra mile to help others and make their communities a better place.
(CNN)Michael Failla doesn't get much sleep.
In the dead of the night, the Seattle resident gets panicked calls and messages from members of the LGBTQ community in the Middle East -- mostly gay men, thousands of miles away, terrified for their lives.
They reach out to Failla in their darkest moments -- sometimes when they're contemplating suicide. At times, the callers just want reassurance and a shoulder to cry on.
He listens and comforts them as best he can from the other side of the world. His phone is always on.
On other days, the callers want help fleeing their country and seeking refuge elsewhere. With a network of friends and human rights organizations in different continents, Failla, jumps into action. He works to get these people to safety, on his own dime, while they seek asylum in a Western country. He also helps them through the long, arduous UN refugee immigration process, which can take years.
The retired chiropractor's compassion for refugees dates to his time as a young man in Detroit, wher