September 17, 2014 – Reported by the International Business Times – In an attempt to shine a light on the difficulties faced by LGBT people in the Middle East on a daily basis, IBTimes UK spoke to four gay people from the region and asked them to tell us their story.
Thanks to Arabs for Tolerance and Equality for providing the interviews…
‘I was caught on a ‘queen boat’ and knew I had to escape’
When I was around 12 years old, I realised the feelings I was having meant that I was gay. I’d had same-sex attractions since I was very young, before the age of 6, but I didn’t know what these feelings meant. At around the age of 12 I faced myself for the first time, I mean really faced myself and said I must be gay. I AM gay.
When I realised I think I was in shock more than anything else, and I didn’t come out to anyone until I was 17, when I opened up to my mum. She started to cry, and asked me if I was sure, how did I know. She said she had suspected for a while now but did not want to admit it. She said I couldn’t continue to live in Egypt; that I need to figure out a way to go somewhere where I would be safe. I didn’t tell my dad.
I stayed in Egypt for a while, and tried to explore my sexuality. It was difficult to find gay-friendly material – although thankfully I could smuggle it back from Thailand – where my dad worked. I had my first sexual encounter aged 18, via a blind date, and had a couple of relationships in the next three years – my mum and sister knew I was gay, so I could bring my boyfriend back to my house. I think I went to two or three private parties at people’s homes, and there were also gatherings in clubs and bars. Fortunately the authorities never found out about any of them; to make sure they didn’t find out, the location was constantly changing.