But the 18-year-old is hiding a dangerous secret that could get him imprisoned or killed: He is homosexual.
Homosexuality is a taboo topic in Afghanistan, a socially and religiously conservative country. Many consider homosexuality un-Islamic and immoral, and gay men can be imprisoned by the state or killed by their family members in so-called honor killings.
“Homosexuality is seen as a disease in Afghanistan,” Ahmad, who does not reveal his real name because he fears for his safety, tells RFE/RL. “It is seen as a sin in Islam, and many people think homosexuals should be executed.”
It is this fear that has prevented Ahmad from revealing his sexuality to his parents and friends. His family of seven expects him to marry a woman and follow traditional social norms.
“I realized I was gay when I was around 15 years old,” Ahmad says in a phone interview. “All my friends were talking about girls, but I realized I was not interested in girls. Slowly I began to realize that I was only attracted to men. It was scary because I felt like an alien and I couldn’t even talk to anyone about it.”
The gay community in Afghanistan lives in secret and its members often lead double lives — heterosexuals in public and homosexuals in private.
Read more at: ‘Fake Life’: Being Gay In Afghanistan