Nawras /

“I am a gay Syrian young man from the seaside town of Latakia in the west of the country. I was born of a Kurdish father from Kamishli in northern Syria and an Arab mother. I am 24 years old, and I am educated, holding a degree in chemistry, and I had a make-up and perfume shop in the city center. I was financially independent and relied on myself and my work to pay for my education and daily expenses. My mother was an anesthesiologist in the military hospital and my father was a driver in Saudi Arabia working for a prince. I also had 2 older brothers who worked in shipping and were therefore mostly out of the country and 2 sisters, one older and one younger than me.

My story begins when I discovered my identity and sexual orientation at the age of 11. I knew little about these things and was always scared because I was born in an eastern, conservative society and a religious practicing family, and was perceived as being wrong and disobeying God’s will. However I read a lot about gender identity and homosexuality and began having total faith in what I was and this faith came from my belief and love for God which were very deep.

My problems began when my parents discovered I was Gay. My mother being a doctor, tried to get me a psychological treatment, which failed and after endless discussions and debates where I tried to explain to her that there was nothing wrong with me and that she should be supportive and stand by me and give me power and hope, she decided to tell my older brother about me.

He was extremely negative and dealt with me in an insulting and humiliating way, beating me time and time again and preventing me from going to university and making me close my small store. However, I would not weaken and was determined to fight and confront and challenge him because I knew I was right and because I believed in God despite the beatings and insults and the humiliating and hard words and despite being deprived of my most basic rights for almost 3 months…beatings, food deprivation, physical and emotional abuse for three months or more and despite all that I would not give up because I knew I was right.

My youngest sister would always help me and we would communicate with messages passed under the door late at night. I told her I needed to get a passport to be able to leave Syria, and she managed to get the necessary papers and give them to a friend of mine who worked in the government because without his help they would never give a passport for a person who was not personally there. About a week later my passport was ready and it took about a month for us to find the right opportunity for me to escape from the house.

On the night of the 3rd of March 2011, my parents had a wedding outside the city, and my sister managed to stay home by telling them she had to study for her exams, and she helped me get away. I went to the seaside and got there at about 3am, breathing in the free air and crying both from happiness/relief and sadness. I thanked God and prayed and stood there staring at the sea until it was time to escape from Syria. The cab to Beirut was waiting for me as my sister had arranged to get me away to the nearest country and that country was Lebanon. Lebanon became my second country and I have now spent over 3 years there. I got a strange feeling as I crossed the border peacefully, without looking back. I left Syria knowing I would never come back and that I had left everything behind.

I entered into Lebanon and my troubles started again. I could not find work and had very little money. A married friend of mine who was 3 times my age helped me as best he could, but I slept on the streets and on roof-tops; I ate leaves when in Syria I had been strong. Eventually I found a job in a car dealership. I would take care of after-sales service for a salary of $350 a month plus housing. Three years of solitude and pain and confrontation. Lebanese society is not that different from the Syrian one, and homosexuality is not accepted.

This continued until I went to the UNHCR offices in Beirut and registered as a refugee and applied for and was accepted for resettlement and now I’m in Sweden since 26th of August. Three years went by and yet I remember each painful moment; however, today I am stronger than before, much stronger, and when I remember those moments, I feel strong. Three years went by and I gathered strength as they passed and what helped me the most is my faith in God and Him standing by me in the hardest and darkest moments. Tough and painful moments where I would only turn to God and he never disappointed me and is still by my side.

This was my story, with some summarization. Last but not least, my message to all other gays or LGBTs is that life does not stop for anything but keeps going on. We have to continue trying and persevere in order to show a pretty and wonderful image of LGBTs. This will make others respect and appreciate us.”

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