The Self Salvation Journey

I am someone who loves freedom and my dreams are simply. All I want is to find someone that loves me and I love him back but the difficulties that I have been through in my life made it impossible. 
I discovered that I was gay when I was living in Jordan with my family. I fell in love with someone who went to school with me. Our emotions started to develop- my heart would beat fast when I am with him. We stayed together for 18 months until my father decided to move us back to Iraq. Things started to get more complicated as I was forced to leave school at the age of 14 for family difficulties. My father started to hit me for the simplest reasons, calling me a “sodomus infidel”. I tried to stand up to him whenever I could but he always hit harder. 

One day while I was walking home; a car pulled over next to me in Jihad neighbourhood (where mostly Shia Arabs live) and two people left the car and started hitting me until I was unconscious. I still have marks of that attack on my head. When I woke up, I found myself in a car with four other people who ended up raping me. Two of them went on to glue my anus while filming the whole thing on a cell phone camera. They throw me out in the street after they finished gluing my anus. When I got home, I told my grandmother what happened and she panicked and gave me money to travel to Syria and do a surgical operation, which is what I ended up doing within hours. 

Since my return to Baghdad, I moved around between my friends and relatives’ houses. I also worked in many things starting from theatre to human rights activism. I went into multiple random relationships that ended with meeting a nice person whom I ended up telling him my full story. He decided to rent an apartment and have my live there. We stayed together for four beautiful years. After a year of that relationship, his family were questioning his decision to rent an apartment for me so he eventually moved to live with me. We broke up after we started having big problems- he became a beast that I didn’t recognise anymore.  
In August of 2013, a list was published in Sadr City, Baghdad by militias with names or individuals accused of being homosexuals- my name was in that list.

My life improved when I started working for human rights organisations and trying to depend on myself yet also helping others who are in similar situations because I can relate to their problems. My name was in another list that went viral in 2014 which forced me to leave Iraq again. I went to Lebanon as part of training program and I applied to the International organisation for Immigration (IOM) program for re-locating. They did not offer me any help with work or housing so I decided to go back to Iraq especially after I was informed that the process could take years.

After that, I decided to contact Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (Now known as International Refugee Assistance Project) because they help with legal assistance and representation by appointing a legal team in New York city. I returned to Iraq shortly after but kept in contact with IRAP which helped present my case to the US Embassy in Baghdad. The Embassy accepted my case and I did two interviews for re-locations and the final step was to do an interview with IOM in Jordan. I was not able to do the last step because I was forced to leave Iraq suddenly when my family wanted to kill me to “cleanse their honor” because I was gay. IRAP helped me to get into Erbil where Freedom House Foundation assisted me with money to be able to live in Erbil. They also assisted with getting my visa to Jordan where I did my interview with IOM in May of 2015.

Freedom House continued to support me in Jordan but I was still being harassed in Amman and was beaten once when I was walking down the street with my friend. I was supposed to hear back about my case in July of 2015 but when went to get an update; I was surprised to find out that my case has been put on hold for an indefinite period. I decided to leave Jordan because of what I went through in Amman. I was heading to turkey without a clear plan.

After staying in Turkey for some time, I wanted to go to Europe illegally so I looked for a smuggler to get me there through the Mediterranean Sea.
The horror and fear that I was put through during these times is indescribable. We sailed of on a small plastic boat with 61 people on board –men, women and children. As we were in the middle of sea, the boat’s engine stopped as we entered the regional water territory between Turkey and Greece. The engine restarted again after 5 minutes but the nightmare that those 5 minutes brought upon me is unforgettable as children and women were crying out for help. Everyone was panicking and afraid of drowning in the sea or choking to death by the crowd on the small boat.  
Few hours after crossing the Greek boards, a small tourist boat came over and got us to a small island called Kalymnos after they charged us 20 euros each. We stayed on that island for 10 hard days of limited food, sleeping in the streets in the cold and taking baths in the cold sea. We then decided to head to Germany- our final destination.
The hardship of the journey did not fade away. After hours of long walks, taking small boats, car rides, and spending hours convincing smugglers to take us to the boarders, we got the Hungarian border. We were about 25 people in that group. We eventually got to a large forest where a friend decided to go see the path with the smuggler before we all go in with him. I waited anxiously for more than 30 minutes that ended in tears- tears of worry that I lost the one person who was friendly to me and treated me like a human being. 
He eventually returned with the smuggler and told us that the road is clear but we cannot use flashlights at night because the border control could catch us and throw us in jails. There were also many gangs that threatens refugees as they cross the borders. 
The Hungarian border control has put barbed wires across the border to keep people from crossing. I tried avoid being caught and they almost had me if I did not run into the forest and waited for the rest of the group to reassemble. We reassembled and started a long walk as the sun started to rise. We met two men who offered to get us to the capitol, Budapest, for 350 euros each. They drove us to the main train station we were supposed to take a train to Germany for 150 euros. We were supposed to board the train the next day.
The unexpected happened as the Hungarian police locked down the train station with all of us inside and did not allow us to move. They finger printed anyone who tried to leave the station so we ended up sleeping on the floor in the cold for four long days. There were many TV stations filming what happens so we tried to stay on the cameras to avoid being dragged out of the station.
We found a Lebanese smuggler who offered to get us to Austria for 550 euros each. We got into their cars but they lied to us and dropped us on the border between Hungry and Austria. We used mobile maps to walk through the forests for hours and then we got to Austria.
We rented a car to take us to Vienna for 100 euros each. We got the train station and slept on the floor for the night until the next morning where we took a train to Germany. We were arrested when we got to Munich and then we were distributed on many camps. I ended up in a camp were many people are conservatives and homophobes. 
After all the time, money and effort I spend trying to run away from homophobic people in Iraq, I ended up with similar people in a camp in Germany.