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Hidden Voices

Podcast Project

Documenting 20 voices from 20 different nation states, we worked with individuals and activists to record their stories and their lived experiences. We warmly welcome you to listen to the podcasts here.

Check out Season 2 below!

Episode 1: Saudi Arabia

“Even if they wanted to accept me, they can’t accept me because they are strong believers in their religion and culture”

 

In this episode, we speak to BA (He/Him) a gay man from Saudi Arabia. BA talks to us about the barriers and resistance in Saudi Arabia and his own personal journey moving from his nation-state. Read below to hear more about him:

 

“I was born in a conservative household and realised I was a homosexual from around 7/8 years old. My family do not know about me being homosexual and I decided in 2017 to move to the UK where I could be free to be myself. I completed my teaching degree here in the UK and married my partner. I do go back to visit my family but must plan my travel back to Saudi, I do not visit often due to being worried about traveling on a spouse visa. I was questioned by family about marriage however I kept busy with my studies, career and I have other brothers and sisters which helped take the attention off me. Whilst living in Saudi Arabia one of my gay friends was catfished on grinder by Islamic police, he met them and was ambushed. He was deported back to Syria and since then I have lost contact with him. However, in Saudi there is a hidden gay community for support which throw parties, you just have to know the right people”.

Episode 2: Iraq

“We cannot have peace in Iraq if we are not even talking about the injustice to LGBTQ people”

 

In this episode, we speak to Hazan (They/Them) a gay person from Iraq. Hazan now lives in Germany and speaks about a program that they have created to educate others on discrimination towards LGBTQ. Hazan also talks about their own personal journey from living in Iraq and moving to Germany. Read below to hear more about them:

 

“I am from Iraq, but I am currently living in Germany. I leave Iraq because I was arrested two times, talking about LGBTQ rights openly. I left because I could have been killed if I was going to continue. I had been imprisoned for one month it was a horrible place, and I couldn’t understand why I was in prison. Every time I asked, they told me different reasons why they arrested me. This is something that happens often in Iraq to LGBTQ often, its the government even though there are no clear laws stating being a homosexual is illegal. Since being in Germany myself and two other refugee activists decided to start a program to help educate people about discrimination towards LGBTQ

Episode 3: South Korea

“People in South Korea do not want to be different or individuals, it is almost shocking to see how people want to think the same way”

 

In this episode, we speak to Kyu (He/Him) a gay man from South Korea. Kyu talks about his time living as a gay man in his nation-state as well as the USA and Moscow. He speaks to us about his own personal during and the barriers and resistance for the LGBTQ community in South Korea. Read below to hear more about him:

 

“Being a homosexual is not illegal in South Korea, our religion is similar to Christianity. Korean’s think same-sex is from our western culture, so they believe it came from the west and it’s mostly accepted. Although Korea lacks education about the LGBT community, we do not really learn about different cultures here. It is not good at accepting things that are different and accepting differences. Koreans do not really know the difference between transgender and drag performer, even gay people do not, people see them as a performer and more like it’s a psychological problem. There is certain areas that are expected to have more gay bars which are very western but then other areas do have gay bars but they are more hidden, you can tell a gay bar in South Korea if it says membership only on a sign. However, there became an issue with gay clubs when COVID happened due to tracking people, if an outbreak happened in a club people were then outed for their sexuality."

Episode 4: Singapore

“I grew up in a really hostile environment towards LGBTQ people, we were seen like perverts and paedophiles”

 

In this episode, we speak to Jean (She/Her) from Singapore. Jean has been an activist for 35 years and has her own organisation to help LGBTQ women.  Jean also tells her about her life growing up in Singapore and how it has changed over the years for LGBTQ people.

 

Read below to hear more about her story:

 

“I am from Singapore, I started doing activist work when I was in school. When I started there were no LGBTQ groups in Singapore although there were some underground bars, but generally it is quite hostile. Over the years we were able to use different platforms like the internet to meet each other. Since then, I have set up an organization called Sayoni, which is an organization that works to uphold human rights protections for queer women, including lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women. They organize and advocate for equality in well-being and dignity regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, and sex characteristics.”

Episode 5: United Kingdom

“For someone growing up in the Northeast especially, although there are still people who do hold very traditional ideas of sexuality and gender, the world is so much bigger than a little town or city in the northeast”

 

In this episode, we speak to Safeenah (she/her) a bisexual woman living in the United Kingdom. Safeenah chats to us about her experience in coming out in the Northeast of England, the interplay between racism and homophobia and the impacts, and about her own interest and undergraduate research into gender roles. Throughout, Safeenah reiterates the importance of educating people on gender and sexualities and that although societal views have shifted in the past ten years, further action is needed.

 

“In that angsty teen “I’m not happy with my Mam, moving out to my grandparents”, I just thought well I am going fully against everything that my Mam has forced me to believe growing up, and my grandparents aren’t as physically as forceful of their beliefs and things so I knew that even if I did come out then I knew even if they liked it or not, they weren’t going to kick me out or anything like that. I think that is one way that I was lucky; for some kids, it wouldn’t have been like that especially with grandparents. I think being at my grandparents I knew the freedom that I have and I just thought I have left my mams house who is being physically and emotionally abusive for years and years, I have left a religion that I was forced to believe, so I feel that me coming out is only a small part of the things that I have left at home and things but I just didn’t care at thatpoint.“

Episode 6: Brunei

“While at the moment we do feel safe, the uncertainty comes from what is written in the law so there is the fear that may use it as their basis and purpose for acting upon it”

 

In this episode, we speak to friends Serena (She/Her) a transgender woman, and Naz (She/Her) a lesbian woman, both from Brunei.  As a predominantly Muslim nation known for its anti-LGBT laws, Serena and Naz give us a first-hand account of what life is like in Brunei for the LGBT community. While life is anything but easy, the resilience of both Serena and Naz is something to be admired, as, despite the conservative views which exist in their town, they continue to be proud of their identity, using the platforms of dance in the case of Serena and the skills of a visual artist in regard to Naz to express themselves. Read below to hear more about their story:

 

“I think hesitancy and a sense of fear are always going to be there unless there are officials who make it clear that it is actually OK, but in terms of safe spaces, I constantly have this conversation with Serena about how much we want to have a safe space. There has been a rise in the community coming together and creating a dialogue where people share their experiences”