Tunisia, Tunis. 29 November, 2016. A posed portrait of 18 year old, gay man Maximus Bloo (not his real name) (+216 50300640, wael198w@gmail.com, FB: maximusbloo). Maximus was ÒoutedÓ after meeting an older man using the gay dating app, Grindr. The man blackmailed Maximus, forcing him to have sex with him. After two times, Maximus refused. The man then outed him to his family. Commenting on that period of his life, Maximus says: ÒYoung kids who found out theyÕre gay and still discovering their life. They often get blackmailed by people such as him and pushed to be turned to a material and a tool for old people and other people to have fun with.Ó Photo Robin Hammond /NOOR for Witness Change.  The Tunisian Revolution, also known as the Jasmine Revolution, was an intensive campaign of civil resistance, including a series of street demonstrations taking place in Tunisia, and led to the ousting of longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. It eventually led to a thorough democratization of the country and to free and democratic elections. Tunisian LGBTQI+ community hoped that the revolution would usher in a more open society, and an end to homophobia and transphobia. This has not come to pass. The laws that target LGBTQI+ people remain, most notably article 230 which makes same-sex acts illegal, punishable by up the 3 years in prison. Transgender people are targeted under public decency laws. The general public is no more accepting of LGBTQI+ people than they were before the revolution. Despite the legal and societal discrimination, LGBTQI+ activists are dedicated to campaigning more openly.

Maximus Bloo /

“Being human is a privilege, but different can forbid the possession of human rights…

My story begins with me being born, a son of divorced and ashamed woman in a pretty small city in the south. My childhood wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t dramatic either, thanks to my mom’s marital status, I didn’t know I had a father until I was around 8 or 10 years old, and that made people call a « son of a bitch, illegal kid and a mistake », at first I didn’t understand what it meant, by the time I turned 10, it hurt me but made me more aware of my situation.

I have had the feeling of being different, looking at things differently, being fascinated with toys, mostly girly, being spontaneous and out going, since I was 6. It didn’t cause me any issues until I turned 13, my friends started talking about girls and how they want to ‘enjoy’ or ‘have fun’ with them. Everyone gets a … everytime they bring that subject up, and I didn’t, I wasn’t even paying attention to it, it made me feel like an outsider, I felt something was off and my thoughts were confirmed when I met Adam, we instantly clicked and we used to always hang out and play, and one night we got intimate and he kissed me, it was beautiful and scary at the same time. My thoughts were true, I AM DIFFERENT. Couple of weeks later Adam died in a car accident, I fell apart and I went crazy, this is how my mum found out about us. They tried to force me to join a religious school, but it didn’t work, as I was in elementary school. I would often get bullied, beaten, insulted. I felt weak and helpless and as time progress, I got to discover more of what i am, of what is going on inside me.

Alone, and I still am alone. By the age of 16, I got to know all about the LGBT+, being gay, finding that other people like me do exist in real life, since then I kept fighting for my freedom, for my life, and if it means that I’m gonna loose people in my life, then let it be. Recently I got to know myself more and defy what society tells me and as a result, insults went skyrocket. Now I am trying to finish high school education and being forced to come out, with all the family struggles, I kept a smile, a smile that Adam gave me, that confidence I have today was thanks to him… Thank you Adam, I will always be grateful.”

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