“This was my first Christmas after I got my asylum in the UK (in 2012). Because I am refugee. Because of my sexuality. The book was a gift. The book was about London and included old photographs, taken by different photographers through history. I appreciate art so much, and photography is one of the things I enjoy. Especially history, something that introduce me to things that used to be in the past. And I keep this book and still look at it, time to time. At that time, I was very vulnerable. I didn’t have my family or any friends. The journalist (who knew my story) invited me into his family and I had Christmas dinner with them. The book meant a lot to me. Like it meant something to me. At that time”.
Omar is a former English language teacher and now works in a pizza shop in London.All of Omar’s family are in Egypt. “Here I am just having few friends. That’s all I’ve got here. And for me they are like family. They are the ones that I spend my free time with. They are family to me”.
Omar explains his decision to leave them. “Because one of the biggest reasons was that I just wanted to be myself. I did not want to hide and pretend all the time. That I am someone else. So I had to make the journey, and I had to come all the way here. And to make all the sacrifices. Being away from my family and my friends, from the place I was born and raised and everything. But it was worth it. Because at least now I am free in myself . . . People should not be labelled, or discriminated against because of their sexuality. Or according to who they fall in love with? Or who they have sex with? So we should all look at each other as the human race. I see myself as a human being, just seeking his freedom”.
Omar (not his real name), Egyptian, 34, male, b. Egypt