This months Illamuse, Bashar, shows the strength it sometimes takes to take pride in who you are and all you aspire to become. This story gives a voice to one of many refugees who have forcibly fled their homes around the world…
At Illamasqua we are known to speak out about issues that affect our human fundamentals. This December marks two very important days; Human Rights Day and International Migrants Day.
In the beginning of 2011 when the Syrian anti-government demonstrations began, thousands of LGBT refugees began to flee Syria and neighbouring Iraq to avoid persecution and seek a safer life abroad. Amongst the thousands of refugees, was Bashar. Bashar had become a well-known pop star in Iraq, but was forced to leave following rumours that he was gay, which came from his rising popularity as a singer. With the rumours, came death threats. In desperation, Bashar left his home country to start a new life in Berlin, Germany.
Bashar made his move to Germany late 2015 and had hoped this move would free him of the homophobic exploitation he experienced in Iraq. He was offered shelter in an LGBT shelter in Berlin. However, along with many of the Arabic LGBT community in Berlin, he often still faces verbal and physical abuse for his sexuality.
“I was so afraid, but I have to be in that Pride, even if I’m going to die” – Bashar.
Bashar chooses only to speak English, explaining that ‘there will be big, big trouble’ if he were to speak his native language, Arabic. He witnessed a brutal attack on some of the residents in his shelter, saying that there was high-pitched screaming, rushing, and blood all over people’s faces. Despite the attacks on the LGBT shelter, where Bashar is homed, and the continued hostility towards him and other members of the LGBT community, he summoned the courage to attend Berlin’s Gay Pride Parade, “I don’t want my life to be stopped by them” he told Channel 4 for the ‘Unreported World’ series.
Berlin is known for their annual ‘Christopher Street Day’ (CSD) celebration, the first of which Berlin celebrated back in June 1979. This day is held particularly in memory of the first uprising of the LGBT community after the riots at the Stonewall Inn, Christopher Street, New York, 1969. Over 500,000 people in Berlin now celebrate the CSD Gay Pride Parade every year.
Bashar’s story is just one of many LGBT refugees, who have fled their homes in the last few years to live in Europe, hoping for a better life. At Illamasqua, stories like Bashar’s reminds us of the importance of taking pride in self-expression and individuality.