Gay immigrants need asylum from persecution at home

"Iran has the death penalty for engaging in consensual same-sex acts. That's a case we would take," she continues, "whereas if someone comes from a country where the country conditions are mixed, like Brazil, where they have some same-sex relationship recognition but still a higher incidence of murders and violence against gays, lesbians and people who are bisexual or transgender," that's a tougher call.

El Salvador and Egypt both have bad track records, though neither is the worst of the worst. Ultimately, country conditions could matter more for Sam, whose life in Egypt as a gay man wasn't violent — mostly because he stayed hidden.

*****

Kassandra faced a hard life in El Salvador.
mark manger
Kassandra faced a hard life in El Salvador.
Bryon Large can relate to his clients.
mark manger
Bryon Large can relate to his clients.

In Sam's Egypt, no one talks about sex. But they do talk about religion — even if, he says, they're not terribly religious. His parents were a perfect example. Though they are Muslim, his father, an electrician who never finished high school, didn't pray, and his mother didn't wear a hijab. (She later started doing both.) But his parents' eschewing of daily prayer didn't make them any more tolerant, he says. "Like if you talk to them about anything forbidden, they're going to say, 'Oh, that's forbidden! That's bad!'" says Sam, who asked that his real name not be used.

In all, Sam's parents had nine children: four boys and five girls. Sam is the fourth. He grew up in Old Cairo, a part of the capital city sprinkled with historic churches and Roman ruins. As a boy, he preferred the company of his sisters. "The way I am acting or, you know, doing stuff, it was kind of a bit different than other boys," he says. "Growing up, you always have to watch what you are doing, and if you do something different, you think that it's wrong. With time, you keep trying harder and harder to fit in."

But Sam didn't always succeed. His parents criticized his tight clothes and the way he emulated the feminine body language of his sisters. "They think they can correct that," Sam says. "They're punishing you — sometimes shouting, sometimes making fun."

Sam felt the first twinges of attraction to other boys when he was in junior high school. But he didn't tell anyone. Instead, he wrestled with his feelings privately, worrying that he was the only person in all of Egypt who felt that way. He'd never even heard the word "gay" until he was thirteen and read a magazine article about the first-ever AIDS patient. "They were writing it in a way that makes you feel disgusted about what's going on," Sam says, "but it actually kind of excited me." Maybe there are other people in the world with these same feelings, he thought.

Still, Sam tried to distract himself by praying more and reading religious books. "I was just trying to avoid thinking about this stuff because I know it's wrong, everybody is saying that it's really bad." If I just get closer to God, Sam thought, this will all go away.

It didn't, of course, but his feelings were easy enough to hide. Occasionally, classmates teased him, but, Sam says, "it wasn't that much." He adds, "My looks are not that feminine, so that made it easier for me." Meanwhile, dating in the American sense of trips to the movies and first kisses didn't exist. Boys went to one high school and girls went to another. In college, men and women attended classes and socialized together, but always in groups. "If you like each other, you can get engaged," he says. "We don't have the boyfriend-girlfriend concept."

Sam's friends just figured he was shy, which he was. Too shy to act on the attractions he felt to other men while studying law at Cairo University. Too shy, or perhaps too ashamed, to act on the feelings he could tell other men felt for him.

After graduating in 1997, Sam continued to live at home with his parents and his other unmarried siblings, as is the tradition. He took a job in a gift shop, and soon after met his first boyfriend at a downtown marketplace. "He came and asked me what the time was," Sam recalls. As Sam turned to answer him, he noticed that his future boyfriend was wearing a watch of his own. "I said, 'You already have a watch. What are you asking for?' And he says, 'Oh, it's not working,'" Sam says, laughing. They started chatting and, perhaps nervous himself, the man blurted out, "I like you." Sam was shocked. "I told him, 'You know, I try to avoid that.'"

But he took the man's phone number anyway and called him — to tell him it wasn't going to work out. Then he called again. And again. "I guess I really wanted to meet him, which is why I kept calling him," Sam says. Plus, he was growing tired of the denial. "You keep trying and trying and trying, and it doesn't go away," he says.

Sam still wasn't at peace with his sexuality, however. Intense guilt gripped him after each date with his boyfriend, a man five years his senior whom he describes as "kind of cute," with hazel eyes and light skin. They often met in secret at his boyfriend's parents' second home. "I would really want to meet him, and then I would go meet him, and then I would come back and I would just feel bad," he says.

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88 comments
T R
T R

And yes you hating gay people, are you pure? do you go by the religion 100% I don't think so....Look into yourself how many times and when was the last time you did something against your faith, mmmm you know many times right? and very recently....There are millions of GLBT people out there in this world! Waw is God blind or powerless? Why hasnt He killed them all yet?....As for me, my God teaches love and helping the others not hate. You religious people are so ignorant and have issues that's why we still have people taking advantage of your ignorance for their own agendas...Wake up we are not in medieval ages anymore it's 2011 and yeah 650 tonnes can fly now over the pacific from Sydney to LA bitches....

Maryanshaver
Maryanshaver

I am almost 70 years old, and I still don't understand why GAY is so scary to a lot of people. Isn't it more important that you love someone and don't want to cause them pain than it is the sex of that person. PLUS I heard a commediane say why not have gays marry, they should be able to be miserable like the hetrosexual marriages many times are. It isn't a joking matter, but don't we haveeconomic chaos, floods, tornadoes etc, to worry about. Yet, I think people put way too much importance on the sex part ant not enough on the just the every day living with another person part. To every hetrosexual married couple, how would you like your whole life with your partner whittled down to sex alone. Demeaning isn't it.

Tlmartinusa
Tlmartinusa

All those years under your belt and your head is where it's dark. What a shame

joe n
joe n

there are true valuable people out there suffering from political reasons .....instead of helping those we are offering shelter to weirdos and freaks ....typical

Juansalvadorneyra
Juansalvadorneyra

I'm sorry but we have too much gays and lesbians in america ; enough it's enough; please no more .Please read the bible ; God condems Gays and Lesbians ; think about!!

T R
T R

Send me a quote from the bible where jesus condemned gay people!

K. Lyn Baker
K. Lyn Baker

I'm sorry, but we have too much religion in America; enough is enough; please no more.

Jerry Merci
Jerry Merci

Ha! Do you read your bible? do you know the part that say's who ever hasn't sinned cast the first stone. Or, what's the other, look at yourself first before looking at others' filth. Or the fact that the bible was written for the old churches back then by a guy who was prison.

To know the truth about the bible you need to learn it's proper history and not the biased history that you were told. If you were to live by the bible's code of conduct you wouldn't last a day.

Tlmartinusa
Tlmartinusa

Since you claim to know so much about the Bible you should reread the old testament where GOD executed gays. Do you remember Sodom and Gomorrah?

Moonin1366
Moonin1366

No its people like you, full of hate and that judge others! Who are You ???!!!God made everyone!!!! And thank God He didn't make everyone like you !

Warheit
Warheit

moonin is the idiot, god is imaginary, just to assist in feeding the parasites, and personal comfort, to give resolution (people think), for wrong doings, so they can sleep at night.

Legal immigrant
Legal immigrant

As a LEGAL immigrant period, I just find there's so much sympathy out there for all the illegal aliens (and I feel sorry for their plight), but I've been here 5 years with at least another 5 to go before I get residency (even though i've been approved), that's another 5 years of living in limbo - a total of 10 years of living in limbo. Never broken the law, bought a house, employ Americans, doing all the right stuff, but no one cares, and there's 100's of thousands of us in what is known as the "endless wait". How about a story on LEGAL immigrants and our difficulties?

Bootcamp808
Bootcamp808

I am gay and I understand what she is going through. But my observation is that there are way too many people in this country who do not want to be Americans, they do not want to speak the language that unified us as a people. Send her back home just like all of the other people who are in this country illegally. Let her learn English in El Salvador and apply for residency here through legal channels. Enough is enough for illegal immigrants.

Gmvte1
Gmvte1

So does this mean that gay Americans that have had a hard time in life shouldn't have to pay their traffic fines too? It's been a week that this new angle to get Americans to believe that only Americans should have to obey Americans Laws. Turn the page!

Brad
Brad

Only God can free them from this bondage. Not the USA.

Vasyafit
Vasyafit

This is getting lame, we can see that Westword is very pro gay, but why is Yahoo showing it over and over. America is not a lifeboat, people solve your own problems in your own country. This is 2011. I am not a conservative or liberal, I am a realist and just because people are gay doesnt give them extra rights. Being gay is a life choice, a sexual preference, period. Stop comparing being gay as being black or a woman in the 19th century.

Korcyra
Korcyra

If being gay is a choice, then you must know from experience. If you are straight...when did you decide about THAT?? And change that if you're able.

Tlmartinusa
Tlmartinusa

Go away. This is liberal BS.

Korcyra
Korcyra

It's liberal BS until you're the one in need, isn't it?

guest
guest

Not that I wish any harm on the gay community they should be able to live free. The problem is we need to stop using the United States as a free for everyone that is why we are in the cluster fuck that we are in now people need to stay in their own country and fight instead of depending on the US

Korcyra
Korcyra

There's tons of room here for more people...Americans are greedy, and spoiled.

Kat
Kat

Good luck Sam! You deserve to be here and be free from fear!

jackass1
jackass1

deserves to be here????? because its gay ? dont be so stupid you ignorant stain

guest
guest

Charity will come back to you as you have shown it to others.

Negative-rights for all
Negative-rights for all

Notice where the hateful comments are coming from? I cannot wait for the religious cancer to be purged. The desert religions have caused unimaginable destruction and grief since their inception. Stand against them.

Tlmartinusa
Tlmartinusa

You are the anti religious cancer that will ultimately ruin our country.

Beavis
Beavis

Nice intolernce & hate. Your as bad as they are.

Bill
Bill

Enough quiet, out law fags! In this case deport the screwed up demented outcast of a foreign nation. Return him, sounds like they were working on a good treatment for his rehabilitation send :o) Along, from his post it would do him or her a world of good. for all fags and queers thought I could not tell you the difference in them may aids creep up your ass! I would enjoy the show. No asylum For any sexual deviant, this means queers and fags or any other definition you have for there sick demented unmoral types. The one sin that God hates more than any even murder is sodomy. Burn baby burn, the hell you face is your own making.

Korcyra
Korcyra

Be careful that the hell you speak into existence isn't your own doing.

Bill
Bill

Just what America needs more queers in America as if we don't have enough dysfunctional humans here we import the scum of other nations, for those worried about bigots, not so much bigots as those that appose your twisted Ideas of morality, attack our churches and all that made this country great, it is you and your mentality that is steadily bringing America from the top down. The majority of America is against your butt crazed dysfunctional perverts. I for one feel it should be a capital crime to allow any queer near our schools especially to attempt to rationalize your perverted actions as normal, your sick and twisted, immoral and plain filthy, I for one say we do not need to or have to patronize you or your actions. You are sick, there is no other answer. there is nothing natural about you. Sorry about not being so politically correct but I believe there should be no political correctness in this issue! Look at your sorry state, demanding preference in jobs, and other privileges why because your perverts! This nation has sunk to a new low. and it is your kind which has done so. I for one say to hell with political correctness. You should not be allowed to spread your filth any further. It is not Americas job to take on this filth! I for one refuse to support them in any way. Clean this great nation up get the filth from higher offices and begin to again rebuild this nation. Liberal agenda has all but destroyed it, Politically Correct is one of the Liberal agendas, Liberal is anti American! Queers and there supporters are Un American! Sick Sick perverted deranged peaces of human scant left along history's path. I thought Aids was Gods blessing to us who are straight against your filth until your sick kind brought it in to our group as well, nothing fit better then to watch a queer die a little each day! Sick Bastards!

Korcyra
Korcyra

Gay people come into existence because "nice heterosexual folks" like yourself keep reproducing, so extend some real logic here, and you can stop gay people (and throw in some bisexual, transgendered and intersexed ones too! Might as well have some fun!) from "happening" when you stop having sex and making babies. Funny that! There are GLBTI people in every culture throughout history from the beginning of recorded history, and it is even found in nature outside of humanity, and yet we get people who try to "whitewash" the history books, censoring those things out according to the whims of their own petty and personal prejudices. Like this really needs explaining in the 21st century, but apparently the need persists!

Korcyra
Korcyra

Sick, dysfunctional human? Look in the mirror lately? Where's all that hate really flowing from?

Strapshoechris
Strapshoechris

Visualising the end of Catholocism and the rest of the bigoted Christian "Churches".God bless agnosticism-Chris.

Negative-rights for all
Negative-rights for all

Here here! Praying to God as we speak that she exorcises the demons disguised as christians.

human
human

I think I would like to ship some of the bigots posting overseas.

EveryoneIsGod
EveryoneIsGod

I wish they would have added some information about what we could do to help them.

MTILLOTSON
MTILLOTSON

I SEEM TO REMEMBER POOR ,TIRED,HUDDLED MASSES,I DON'T EVER REMEMBER SEEING CRIMINALS,PSYCOLOGICALLY CHALLENGED SEXUALLY DEVIANT BEING ON THE STATUE OF LIBERTY

Korcyra
Korcyra

Seems to me like "poor, tired, tired, huddled masses" didn't exclude anyone, did it? We sit on an entire nation of "land stolen from the American Natives" by bigoted european settlers who couldn't see that their dung stunk too! We have all come from somewhere else at some point, so who are you to say who can come and who can stay? Have you owned that one lately?

Chris
Chris

Kassandra: I am happy you are able to remain here in the United States. I do wish that Sam could have stayed as well!

Turnerf77
Turnerf77

Get this gay crap off of my yahoo page. It's been on here for three days. Surely, there must be more important news than this garbage.

Bill
Bill

a faggot is a faggot and we have enough sick faggots here of our own making, we don't need to import any more of the child molesters into the country. Anoter food stamp welfare burden for the American tax payer to support as it spreads its diseased ass all over the country, Gays are a sick side of our society which should have been eliminated, At least this one will not be producing litters of kids it cant pay for like its other illegal invaders coming with it. Unless it as its kind finally figures out it has a dick and starts raping the little girls in the neighborhood as so many other illegals have done. Close the border! deport all illegal invaders, make anchor babes the citizens of there mothers country! Change our laws so first generation immigrants have no social services or government support! If they cant support them selves and family back they go! Enough burden on American tax payers when there are not enough jobs to go for the Legal Americans here! I for one refuse to pay for there litters or there presence in America! As for the foreign fagot ??Bitch that came in, thinking her /his ass hole was a pussy he needs to go back as well. Let his country of origin deal with his sickness! They are all sick mentally ill perverts! I don't buy any of there shit. I for one don't buy any of there but I cant change this crap, and I don't care. the further they are away from me and my children the better it is, No I do not have to tolerate there perversion!

Korcyra
Korcyra

Why don't we deport you into some of these countries and see if you can survive?

:o)
:o)

You are a sick person who need mental evaluation. Seek psychiatric help immediately, you pose a harm to yourself and those around you. Your thought process is all wrong and I shouldn't have to pay for your rehabilitation withthe taxes I am supposed to pay, but your are in dire need and will make an exception.

Bill
Bill

The need for help seems to be on your side. supporting these sick fags, No my dear if intervention is needed it is on your behave and in truth aren't you all ready sucking the government tit some where. Well at least you pay taxes, but the question is from who's stolen identity. My thought process is fine and what is needed for this fine country to recover. yours is dragging it down. Rome had your process of thought in its very last days. I fear there is no help for you, don't bother wasting the money for rehabilitation. For you there is no help. but maybe by just ending it all it will save you from years of suffering, Aids bite you in the butt yet? just sort of a pun to the point!

Korcyra
Korcyra

And we're back to that same old line of thinking that your problems are always someone else's fault...gimme a break already...own your own life and leave things alone that are none of your business.

Rico
Rico

Slow news day in Denver.

 
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