“I was born in Sierra Leone in West Africa in 1974. I’m 46 years old now and I have been fighting for the right to be who I am since I was only 14 years old.
I know this: If I was forced to return to Sierra Leone, I will always have to hide my sexuality.
I left my home country when I was only 15 years old. Today I have not seen my mother and my sisters for nearly 30 years.
I realized that I was homosexual when I was 14 years old. I attended an all-boys’ school where I started to develop feelings for my classmates. My father was a strict imam, and he would never allow it. At that time, I had never thought of homosexuality as a crime, because my feelings had always been for boys. But in my home country it is considered a crime. I lied to my father every time he suspected me of being with other boys.
When my family found out, the whole village found out. I come from a small village of only 50 people. Everyone watched while they fractured my waist and destroyed my scrotum, marking my body with sharp objects. I was bleeding. I managed to crawl behind a bush, where my mother found me and carried me to a traditional priest to heal me. Ultimately, he wasn’t able to.
I was sent to the neighboring country of Guinea-Conakry for treatment with another traditional priest for nearly 9 years there. The traditional priest wanted me to return to Sierra Leone, I didn’t want to go back – my life was destroyed in that place. I was seen as a criminal, an evil person. I never returned.
When I later on arrived in Gambia, I was homeless. I earned money by prostituting myself. In the mornings on the beach, I started educating myself, trying to read and write and better my English skills for future use.
I arrived in Scandinavia in 2016, after I became friends with a Danish man in Gambia. We travelled together to Scandinavia. He told me that he would help me get a permanent stay in Denmark. He tricked me, though. He took me to a remote house in Sweden instead in the middle of nowhere where I was held captive by two men who abused me sexually for nearly two weeks. I managed to escape one night. I asked a man for help while I was fleeing. I found the nearest migration center. I received help to seek asylum in Denmark after four months in Sweden.
When I finally arrived in Denmark, I was picked up by the police. I was so afraid. But the Danish police were very kind to me. I was placed in several asylum centers for a long period of time. My asylum case was rejected, and I was afraid I would be sent back to Sierra Leone. That was when I fled to Germany in 2019.
During my time in Denmark, I was in touch with the LGBT Asylum community who is like a family to me. They have helped and supported me in ways that I cannot describe - personally, mentally, and socially. They have given me life. I was very active in the organization, especially during Pride where I was the marketing manager, promoting the cause, and I will always be ready to walk along with my LGBT+ family in the Pride Parade.
Today, I’m part of the LGBT+ community in Munich. I’m still in the process of getting a permanent residence permit, and I struggle with my mental health. Even though my experiences have made me stronger in some ways, it is not easy, because I don’t know my faith – but I’m trying to be strong. I want to be strong.
In my heart, I feel strong and at home with my LGBT+ family no matter where I am.”
Photo credit: Thomas Cato
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