ReportOUT were contacted by a gay man in Afghanistan who wanted to tell his story on our blog and so after discussions, we sent some questions to him. He wanted his voice heard and gave permission for his story to be told. We have not changed or altered his responses other than minor edits to grammar and sentence flow. Everything has been made anonymous and any details changed.
What is life like for LGBT people in Afghanistan generally? In what ways is it positive and negative?
Well gay life here in Afghanistan generally is tough, it is like being inside a prison to be honest. Yeah, there are maybe some guys who are okay with it who can meet their partners easy I think. But maybe 1% are lucky like this, the rest are just risking their lives meeting each others in public and also going to some safe places like houses or guest houses.
Gay life especially in villages or small cities is much more tough and hard than big cities like Kabul, because small cities are all under Taliban's command so it is like 100% risky even to think about doing meeting gay people. Meeting gay people in small cities is not possible at all, you will take a big risk. Because if any one know that this guy is a gay then I know what will happen to him and to his family.
I live in a small city too, so I know how hard is being gay here. I even cannot imagine meeting any gay guy here so that's why I don’t know anyone here in my city. I love my family I don’t want any one bother my family or use bad or dirty words against my family. There are so many negative thoughts and comments here about gays in Afghanistan.
Has life always been this way for LGBT people in Afghanistan? Has it got better or worse?
It is the same for gay people, just it is got a bit better for those who live in Kabul, Mazar and Nangarhar I think. Because at least they can meet a bit easier. But is getting worse day after another, because the Taliban are getting more powerful here so it means no gay life here will be available anymore. We (gays) will just kill our inner humans because if we don’t do it, then it will reveal ourselves and others will kill us.
I know some people that in the time of Jihad they were commanders and had power and they had a cute guy with them, our people call it bacha baazi or in Pashtu (he is his Halak). But now that people talk after gay people and motivate other people to hate gays and to use dirty words against gays. So it is getting worse.
What are the main challenges that LGBT people face by the family, culture, religion, society and government in Afghanistan? What are the public attitudes toward LGBT people?
Well, a good question, the main challenges are all mentioned in other questions, but religion, family and society are the first and main challenges.
In Islam, having sex with a male is seen as one of the biggest sins, and it hurts me a lot. I swear, I tried many many times to leave these things to forget what i did in the past to be straight but unfortunately I couldn’t help it, I couldn’t do it.
I hurt myself for being gay, I hated myself for being gay but nothing has changed so maybe it is my destination so let it be as it is. I should be proud of what I am.
Secondly, family is a challenge. It is clear that no family will understand their son’s situation because they won’t accept me like that they will hate me for ever if I want to tell them about me that I am gay. Being gay is a strange thing for them and also the dirty thing for them, so I will never do this mistake to tell them about it.
Thirdly, society plays a very main rule in gay people's life and even if religion accepts you and if a family understand or accept you, here in Afghanistan society will never understand or accept you. They all hate gays they all think so bad about gay people and they always use dirty words against gay people. I once tried to say that gay people are sweet people and it is not their fault being gay to a friend but he replied that I had to please stop it and change the topic.
The Taliban are just waiting to get the news about any guy and they will definitely kill that guy by pushing a big wall on him, because this is the punishment of a gay guy here. So this is the other reason for a gay guy to not want to tell anyone about himself.
How do LGBT people meet each other in your country? What places and how? In what ways is this dangerous?
First of all they find guys on social media like Facebook and Grindr apps. I made a fake account on Facebook for the first time to find someone that can understand me for being gay, so I found lots of them but they were not all good. Bad guys were there too who only wanted to blackmail others, so Facebook is the way we find other gays and after that Grindr where we can feel a bit safe .
Then to meet in public for first time at any park or restaurant of coffee shop, it is possible only in big cities like Kabul. After that if we like each other, then we start meeting again and then meet at home telling family members that he is my friend, classmate or colleague. Sometimes we can meet in hotels or guesthouses but hotel and guesthouses are not safe at all and it is a big risk going there but some gays don’t have any other choice.
It is too dangerous meeting gays anywhere. I don’t feel safe meeting guys even if i met at home. So no joy and happiness at all.
Are there any LGBT organisations? How do LGBT people get access to healthcare? Sexual health?
I don’t think here will be any LGBT organisation active here because there is no permission for such an organisation to work here in Afghanistan I think, I didn’t find any here. I tried a lot to seek for asylum and asked many LGBT organisations but they replied that they can not help me if I am inside Afghanistan, they will only help me if I leave Afghanistan and go to a safer country like India or Turkey. So there is no active LGBT organisation here.
If I need to go to doctor for such issues, I have to find an excuse first and then go, because doctors belong to this society and have these attitudes too and so I have to be careful in these situations.
Do you ever see an opportunity for Afghanistan to change toward LGBT people in the future? Or is there opportunity to form resistance to help LGBT people in your country? If so, how?
Oh no, I do not think so. I think it will never happen here. Never ever, because it is an Islamic country. So it will never happen I think, because the government punishes gays too if they catch any. The government now have spies on Facebook and Grindr for finding gays and their locations to arrest them, so it will never happen here.
What has your own personal life been like as a gay man in Afghanistan?
As I mentioned at first, it is like being in a dark prison without any light. If I can not meet anyone, if I cannot even kiss anyone, if I even cannot imagine having a partner beside me, so how it can be ?
Being gay is so f.....g hard here.
I sometimes hate myself being gay. If I was straight I would be happy here but I just have to put a smile on my face because of my sweet family and have such a sad and upset and painful guy inside me. When i go to bed sometimes I cry until I go to sleep. What is this life I have?
It is not life, it is just mess up.
It is just a robot’s life.
I’m not only upset only by straight people, I’m also upset from some gay people who only think of sex all the time. If I say I’m top so it is okay I’m seen as a good and clever guy, but if I say that I’m versatile or only bottom then I am viewed as a dirty and bad guy and they will treat me as a girl, not as a gay man.
The majority of gay people are like this. There is no kindness and no sweetness, just having sex and leaving that's all they are looking for. But some are like me who are dying only for a hug and a single kiss and touching a guy for real and taking his hand.
But still I’m happy and hopeful and one day I will be free and will have a good partner, who knows? I have to stay strong and struggle.
When I see gay couples enjoying their moments and having fun, I get happy but I know it hurts me too, because I am a human too but why I ask why I cannot be like them? Why i cannot have a partner?
Why my society doesn’t accept me. It is really disappointing. They don’t know what gay life is like in a country like Afghanistan.
What is next for you?
So at first, I looked for apps and ways to find other gay people so I first made an account (fake) and I started texting other gays. Finally, I found some good guys and I met them, but only two remain as my best friends. They are both married to girls but still they are gay because they cannot change themselves.
Then I found out about Grindr and there I met some foreigners who are good and handsome guys. They are still my best friends too. Then I downloaded Planet Romeo and I found my partner who is in Europe, and he is a Christian.
We haven't meet yet but we did plan to meet but we couldn’t because it is not easy to do. He asked lawyers in his country to take me to Europe legally but it wasn’t possible. He said it will will take a long time and so we didn’t start the legal process because of safety with my family finding out. He found out ways to get me to Turkey and then to Europe illegally, but still we couldn’t. We couldn’t find a good smuggler to help us and also due to COVID-19 we cancelled this idea.
So I found a man who loves me but we cannot even meet.
So what is this life man?
How is this a so-called life ?
It isn’t life...