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The Your Stories section is all about you! Please take a minute to tell visitors of the ILGA website about what LGBTI life is like in reality. Please submit your personal story and share your experience!

YOUR STORIES
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Readers Experiences

This is what people are saying about life for LGBTI people in EGYPT...
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Abdul (user currently living in CANADA) posted for gay readers in response to this story on 26/05/2011 tagged with illegality of male to male relationships
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Hi there I usually don't respond to posts but as you till your story I reflect on my life thinking that how life is strange,because I know u I'm that same 12 yrs old kid or 16 yrs old confused kid and now in my 25th year and still faces the same society ,religion ,every thing I ran from.I feel you because I'm from close background and roots I'm from the medial east ,yet worst than Egypt .it's Saudi Arabia and for those who don't know it ..it's the most homophobic place on earth yet surrounded with men all the time.how weird is that any way just want to till you thank you for your article and that you captured some of my true feeling and pain and shame.
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A personal account of a mans experience of the Queen Boat police raid on the early morning of May 11, 2001, Cairo, Egypt:
I had a rough day and I really felt like going out. I called up a friend of mine to see if he would like to go out with me to the “Queen Boat” – a boat that is docked on the bank of the Nile River off the Island of Zamalek, opposite of the Marriot hotel. My friend said that he was tired and in no mood to go out. He suggested that his house mate and our mutual friend go out with me instead because he had had a really bad day. Our friend Fadi was fired from his job simply for being Christian and could not do anything about it. Fadi was reluctant at first but I kept pestering him until he agreed to go out with me. We agreed that we will meet there, outside the boat. I finished up getting ready and then took a cab to the boat. Fadi was waiting for me, it was a little before midnight. We greeted each other with the usual kiss on each check. We walked across the path way from the sidewalk to the docked boat. The boat had 3 levels, the club was at the bottom level. We went down the stairs, paid at the entrance and entered the club. Music was blaring, some people were dancing, others were at the bar. As we walked to our seats I remember thinking that it was unusually empty. Usually there would be a lot more men at this hour on a Thursday night. I didn’t think much of it and continued walking to our seats. We ordered a couple of beers, Fadi started smoking, we chatted, looked around…. After a while more people started arriving but it was still not as “packed” as it usually is. There were male couples dancing together sensually and seductively on the dance floor, there were guys mingling at the bar…I remember thinking to myself – nobody can miss this is a “gay place”. I leaned over to my friend and said “I wonder what the waiters & bartenders think about all this – they must know that we’re gay…” Eventually, my friend got up to go to the restroom and “cruise around”. He left his cell phone and cigarettes on the table. I stayed behind and continued drinking and people watching. I recognized two people – my ex-boyfriends ex and the British principal of the school I used to work at. I’m not sure if they saw me too but I didn’t make any effort to say hello to them.
After a few minutes, people started walking off the dance floor, the music was turned down and bright lights came on. That was really strange – I looked at my watch (can’t recall exactly what time it was) and I remember thinking its still way too early, is the club closing already? I stopped a waiter and asked him what was going on. He said in a monotone as a matter-of-fact: “The police came and they arrested folks…its happened before.” My heart sank, I gripped the arm chairs with my fingers tensely. I looked around. There were still some guys at the bar and waiters were walking back and forth. I could not see anybody in police uniform. Thoughts were racing through my head. What the fuck am I gonna do? Did Fadi get arrested? Shit! Shit! I got up, paced back and forth thinking, what am I gonna do, what am I gonna do? I called my mom-she was staying at her mothers house that night. I just needed to hear her voice. I did not tell her what was going on or where I was. I told her I loved her, wished her a good night and hung up. I stopped pacing. My heart was beating quickly, my hands were starting to sweat. I looked down at the table where I was sitting. Fadi’s cell phone and cigarettes were still there. A waiter approached me and asked if what was on the table was mine. I said no, they belong to my friend and I’m going to take them to him. He said in that case we need to write down your name and number because when they (the men) are released they usually come back looking for their stuff. He went to the bar, I picked up Fadi’s things and walked towards the bar. I remember thinking to myself, I can’t give them my real name or number. But what if they ask to see my ID? Shit! Oh maybe I can just tell them I don’t have my ID on me…. I told the waiter my name was Assem Seif (thinking that was ambiguous enough, I certainly wasn’t going to give them my last name which was quite uncommon) and I changed the order of some of the numbers to my cell phone number. The waiter wrote the information down and luckily did not ask to see my ID. I remember thinking to myself, ok I’m going to do this, I’m going to try to leave. What else am I going to do? Was the police going to come back and arrest the rest of the people? Were they still here or did they leave? My whole body was so tense and my heart was still beating very fast.
I walked toward the door that would lead me to the stairs to go up to the ground level. As I got to the door, there were two men standing there (not in police uniform) and there was another guy who was also trying to leave. One of the men asked me, “What do you do (for a living)?” I responded: “I teach.” He asked, “What do you teach?” I said “English (as a second language).” The man wasn’t looking at me as we talked, he was looking behind me, his eyes searching the place. Suddenly the other man standing at the door yelled in Arabic: “I saw you dancing and gyrating your hips (like a woman) on the dance floor!” as he slapped the man standing next to me. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I did not react, I was in shock. The man let me through and I climbed up the stairs to the ground level. There were about two other men there from the club and other men that seemed to be undercover cops. I started pacing back and forth and then I said I’m going to try to get out of here. I asked someone, “Can we leave?” He said, “Didn’t the ‘pahsa’ (a high rank officer) ask you to wait?” I said, “The ‘pasha’ did not tell me anything.” And just like that I started walking towards the path that leads from the boat to the street. I really do not know where I got the courage to respond in that way. I got to the path, I did not look back and kept walking. I said to myself ‘walk confidently and slowly, don’t look nervous then maybe they won’t suspect anything and won’t arrest you.’ I managed to get to the street. Out of the corner of my left eye I noticed a police van and police officers in uniform. I did not look at them and kept walking on the sidewalk and eventually to the street. I did not look back. I crossed under the 26th of July bridge and turned right towards Ahmad Mazhar street. I took out my cell phone and called my friend that I called earlier. When he answered, I said, “Maher, the police came to the Queen boat and they arrested people. They arrested Fadi. Did Fadi connect with you at all?” He said no. I said, “He told me he was going to the bathroom but he never came back.” He asked me what I was doing and I said I’m walking home. I hung up. I looked behind me – it appeared that nobody was following me. I remember breathing heavily, my heart was still pounding. I started increasing my pace and kept saying over and over “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my….”. I eventually really picked up the pace and started running. I ran home. I remember reaching my building, climbing up 4 flights of stairs, opening the door to my familys apartment and closing it behind me. I locked the door, walked to the hallway, opened the door to my sisters room – she was still awake. I told her what happened and I told her not to tell our mother about it. I did not want her to worry. I really can’t remember my sisters reaction. I remember walking out of her room, walking into my mothers room (I was sleeping there that night). I called Maher again. He said he was going to go down and look for Fadi at the ‘Kasr Al Aini’ police station. I told him I still had Fadi’s phone and cigarettes. I hung up. I remember changing into my pajamas in complete and utter shock. It was as if my mind and body were completely separated. My body was doing one thing (taking off and putting on clothes) and my mind was doing another - replaying what just happened and thinking “Is the police still going to come after me? Are they gonna find me? Are they gonna know where I live? Are they gonna torture Fadi to get my contact information?” When I was done changing I got into bed and under the covers. I crawled up into fetal position, closed my eyes tight and started praying/reciting versus from the Koran. And somehow I fell asleep.
Fortunately, I was never arrested. I really do not know how I managed to flee unscathed that night. It was truly a miracle. The other men who were not so lucky, including my friend Fadi, (I found out later) were tortured at the police station and were forced to sign depositions that they were gay, devil worshippers and part of a satanic cult. Some men were raped by foreign objects or by other male police officers. Some were electrocuted. Some had vicious dogs set on them. Some were hung upside down and beaten with a stick on the soles of their feet. And of course as if all this was not enough, they were all verbally abused and humiliated. They were called faggots amongst other derogatory names. As the men were being raped, the officers would say, “So you like being fucked, well here you go…”. After a few nights at the police station they were transferred to prison. Their crime: debauchery, fabricating verses from the Koran, conducting “gay weddings” on the boat, participating in orgies on the boat, being part of a satanic cult…. Their face pictures, full names, age, professions amongst other identifying information were published in almost all the newspapers and magazines…..
I managed to leave Egypt on August 2nd 2001. I was able to seek asylum based on my sexual orientation and the events of May 11 2001. I have been living in the San Francisco Bay Area ever since. Last year I became a US citizen and was able to visit Egypt for the first time in 9 years. Some of the “Cairo 52” men were released, some were imprisoned for 6 months, a year, 3 years – one person was sentenced to 5 years in prison. Some men managed to flee the country to France, USA, Canada…
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(user currently living in UNITED STATES) posted for readers on 23/05/2011 tagged with human rights, sexual orientation, religion, illegality of male to male relationships +5
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Confessions of a man who happens to be gay and Egyptian and a lot of other things.....
Shame
"Can you imagine being ashamed for more than 3/4 of your life? For me that would mean 25 years plus. And society, family and religious leaders instill that in you. "He should be ashamed of himself! Can you imagine how much his family is suffering?" These are some comments I would hear if an effeminate guy passed by. You see, effeminate man = gay man. You don't play sports? You don't like SOCCER?? Cars? Boxing?? Whats "wrong" with you?

I remember.... Summer of 1994, my family and I were on our way to the US via London. I was at WHSmith and I saw the section that had gay magazines. I would pretend to look at something else and glance at those magazines. As if I'm looking at something illegal, criminal almost. I don't know how I got the courage but I did. I walked directly towards "those" magazines, looking over my shoulder and to my side. Am I gonna get caught? Am I going to be publicly humiliated? Are my parents and/or sister going to catch me looking at "those" magazines? My heart was beating faster and faster the closer I got. When I was deciding which magazine to take, I was trembling, shaking from inside and out. I thought people could hear my heartbeat. OMG, everybody is going to think that I am gay! I quickly picked up a copy of the "Gay Times" and held it close to my chest (the cover facing me of course). Okay, now I have to go pay for it. Shit, oh, shit, oh shit!! I stood in line, looking all around me, holding the magazine tight. As I got closer to the clerk I started sweating - OMG, she's (cashier) going to know that I am gay! What if she laughs? What if she humiliates me? When it was my turn to pay, I quickly put the magazine on the counter face down - maybe that way she won't know what the magazine is. To my horror, she turned the magazine over in order to scan it. I think my heart was going to pop out of my chest. I couldn't look her in the eye, but when I glanced at her, she smiled and told me the price. I gave her the money, got my change and magazine. She said: "Have a nice day" and looked at the next person in line. OMG, she did not care. She did not care one bit. The person behind me didn't care either. Am I simply walking away? Walking away unscathed? As I took those first few steps outside the store, I took a deep breath and I felt my whole body ease up. OMG. I did it. I bought my first gay magazine. And I'm ok. Nobody is staring at me. WOW!

This is just one example of many.

However, I must say that now at this stage of my life looking back at that experience I am very proud of that 16 year old boy. I'm very proud of myself. I was terrified but I still went for it completely by myself. I wish I could pat that 16 year old boy on the back, I wish I could hug him and say its ok, heck its more than ok!

Shame eats you up inside. Its a horrible feeling. To be ashamed of who you are. No child should ever, ever grow up with shame.

I now am able to say shame on society, shame on religious figures for scarring children in that way."
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(user currently living in UNITED STATES) posted for gay lesbian transgender bisexual readers on 23/05/2011 tagged with human rights, sexual orientation, religion, illegality of male to male relationships +5
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Confessions of a man who happens to be gay and Egyptian and a lot of other things.....

"Not belonging, not fitting in, constantly feeling like an outcast is absolutely a horrific thing. It’s bad enough being a “typical” adolescent – add to it being gay and being confused about where you come from, who you are and what & where is “home”.
I look back on those days as an adolescent, in my room, in my parent’s home in Zamalek, Cairo. I see a very sad, confused, insecure and lonely boy. A boy that goes through life thinking and believing that he is not normal, that there is something wrong with him, that he is bad – very, very bad.
I went through many stages as an adolescent – the scared, and confused boy; the melancholic, lonely fragile boy; the fearful of rejection, people pleasing boy; the angry, “full of rage” boy; and the boy that was disgusted by his whole being, thinking that he is ugly, unattractive, plain, fat, too pale, “pizza” face (because of all the pimples & zits), and of course not “man enough” or thinking that I am less of a man compared to “real” men. The thought that just popped into my head: “This is truly a recipe for disaster!”
I am amazed that I did not attempt to kill myself. I am amazed that I did not turn to drugs or some other self-destructive activity. But I did turn to two things: depression and food. I was so lonely, so confused, I used to talk to my stuffed animals, to my pet, to the walls of my room, to the light in the ceiling, to myself. I would eat 24 pieces of the chocolate Bounty in one sitting. I would eat not because I was hungry. But to bury my feelings, my doubts, my insecurities – all of the things I didn’t know how to deal with. Would I feel ‘good’ afterwards? No. But at least I was able to bury my pain. At least temporarily.
And the incredible thing is, nobody knew what I was going through. Nobody. Even my mother, whom I considered to be the closest person to me. It was just me, myself and I. My mother attributed my “moodiness” and bursts of anger as a normal part of adolescence. And perhaps they were. But in my case there was a lot more to it.
When I went back to Egypt in 2010 after being in exile for 9 years, the memories, the feelings I used to feel, the thoughts I used to think..all came back. Gradually. But they came back. I was quite guarded though. It was like I had an invisible shield around me. Ok, y’all could come back but you ain’t passing this line. You are not going to hijack my mind, soul or body. I also knew I was not staying forever and that I was going to leave soon. That was my light.
It’s incredible how resilient human beings are. How resilient I was and still am. I’m not into psychoanalysis by any means and I certainly have my reservations about Freud and some of his theories. But he did shed light on our ability to cope with pain. The genius of coping and/or defense mechanisms. Of course I know that’s like putting a band aid or a numbing agent on an open wound – a temporary fix, if you will. It is not the same as healing a wound or being mindful and aware of your pain so that you can let go. Move on. It’s like dealing with the demons of yesterday so that you can live openly and honestly to yourself today and be ready for the challenges of tomorrow.
It took me years and years to heal. Years. Years of intense pain, denial, self-hate, depression, anxiety. But then again I suffered years and years of damage. Of abuse. It kind of makes sense that it would take years to “fix” that. To unlearn learned thoughts and behaviors."
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(user currently living in UNITED STATES) posted for gay lesbian transgender bisexual readers on 23/05/2011 tagged with human rights, sexual orientation, religion, illegality of male to male relationships +10
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Confessions of a man who happens to be gay and Egyptian and a lot of other things.....

"I am a lot of things. I’m originally from Egypt and now I am also a US citizen. I’m a son, a brother, a cousin, a friend, a special education teacher… And I happen to be gay. I say that like its insignificant, like it shouldn’t be an issue. But it is.
I remember feeling attraction towards boys / men definitely before the age of 6. Around 4 maybe? I knew I was “different”. I must have figured out early on that this “difference” was not “normal” because I never talked to anybody about the feelings and attractions I was experiencing.

I was 12 when it hit me one day. I feel this and the feelings are so strong and have been there for a long time – actually they never went away. Thus, since I’m having all those feelings that must mean I’m GAY. I still remember that moment quite vividly, probably because strong emotions were attached to it. It was like a realization. When I said the words ‘I am gay’ to myself, it was like Whoa… Its like when a doctor tells you that you have cancer and the kind that is not going away. You just sit and take it all in. Except in this case I was telling myself. I remember going to school the next day feeling extremely self-conscious. I kept looking around me to see who was looking at me in a different way as if I had a sign on saying, “I’m GAY”. Although I didn’t know it at the time, looking back at it, I probably thought if I could know about me then maybe my friends / classmates knew also. Of course, at that time, nobody could tell. It was my paranoia. This paranoia would stay with me for many years. Can they tell? Do they know? What will happen if they know?

My family is Muslim. Growing up, my parents were spiritual and were definite believers of Islam but they did not really practice the rituals (praying 5 times a day, going to the Mosque on Fridays, etc). Around the age of 11, I started becoming aware of how homosexuals were viewed by my immediate and extended family, by religious figures, by lay people in the street – by society at large. Homosexuality is sick. It’s a sin. It’s abnormal. Homosexuals go to hell. Homosexuals are perverted creatures – almost not human. Homosexuals are disgusting. “Normal” people (heterosexuals) need to stay away from these perverted, deviant creatures. Is it any surprise that I started to internalize these messages? If the people I loved and supposedly loved me, if the people I respected, admired and cared about me held these beliefs about gay men then I must be wrong. I must be a MISTAKE. I am a SIN. Hey, even God believes (according to the Koran) that homosexuality is wrong and only love, sex, and relationships between men and women are correct. Are “natural”. If God knows everything about everything then he must know that I’m having “those” feelings. So he must know that I’m gay. So he must be angry with me – will bad things start happening to me? The clear message I was getting from everything and everyone around me – including God is that I cannot be that way, that I have to change. And God doesn’t make mistakes. God is perfection. So I must be wrong.

This conflict began within me regarding who I am (which was wrong) and who I am supposed to be (which is right) by the age of 12. How did this affect me? Affect a 12 year old boy? My self-esteem was crushed, I experienced depression for the first time as well as suicidal thoughts. I was in so much pain, so much conflict, so much confusion that at times death seemed like a way out. A relief. But guess what? Suicide is a sin in Islam. So dead or alive, I’m sinful?? Wow! That must mean I’m really BAD. Why am I this way? Why can’t these feelings go away? Why can’t ‘this me’ go away?"
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raiedrefaat (user currently living in EGYPT) posted for gay readers on 07/04/2010 tagged with adoption, illegality of male to male relationships
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dear sirs and miss 2 all the worled here is my story i live in egypt iam 44 yrs all my crime is that iam gay i dont choose 2 be buy iam happy bieng gay i lost evrey thing no family no home no money being gay in egypt means all of that i was married buy my wife find out iam gay she tell all my family they punished me bye dismiss me from home my wife went to my dirictor he also dismiss me my sons spate in my face telling me go 2 the hill i dont know i feel iam lonly in this world plsssssssssss if any one can help me find job any job i want 2 eat i was from rich family i dont used 2 be like that i am homeless i need a hand in egypt or any where my tel in egypt 0020186322779 pls give me a hand help me cause i am lonly help me i know that no body will hear me or give a hand but at least now u know my story
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