#iAmStrong | Pinar

Giorgos Moutafis for SolidarityNow

My dream is to no longer have a headache and to be loved”

The dreams of Pinar, the 27-year-old Kurdish man, originally from Syria, sound simple. Pinar is unable to look at us straight in the eye and blushes while he speaks during our interview. He has been in Greece for a while now and lives alongside two compatriots in an apartment provided by SolidarityNow, which is part of the Safe Refugee program, dedicated to the LGBT refugees.

Pinar is gay.

The story of his life so far, and his journey to Athens, most likely testify the reasons of why he is so shy, introverted and hesitant.

He grew up in Syria with his parents and nine siblings. Even though he is currently in Greece, the other members of his family, are scattered in Syria, Iraq and Germany. He has happy memories from his childhood and speaks fondly of some of his siblings which he feels close to. However, he could never share with his family members who he truly is, how he really feels, and the fact that he is gay.

When he graduated from high school, he enrolled into law and studied for two years. However, his studies were cut short because he had to escape. As he says, he had to escape from two different things: “from war and from the behavior of his peers after they suspected that I was gay”. Those were the two dangers Pinar faced, and the reasons that led him to fleeing, the only solution he thought was possible. During his travels, the stigma that followed him was therefore double.

He arrived in Turkey first and no longer wants to remember those days, confessing that they were probably the worst in his life. – “There, you can’t be anything. Not a refugee and not a gay man”. Those were the circumstances he had to live in. He was abused because he was Kurdish and was hospitalized for a month. Later, he was forced to leave Turkey and return to Syria, naked.

In his second try, he managed to get from Syria to Constantinople, but faced and overcame many obstacles in the way. He stayed in Constantinople for a bit longer than a month. There he took a big decision. He left of foot and headed towards Thessaloniki. When he finally arrived he was tired, desperate and scared and had no papers in order to prove his identity.

He received help from some of his friends who had arrived in Greece before him. He called John, an old friend from Syria who was already in Athens. He helped him right away, by sending him money and waiting for him to arrive in Athens, the city that would become their next home. They could have never imagined that life would bring them together, in the same city and house, where they would find warmth and safety.

Today, they finally feel safe. John helps Pinar to become a more extrovert individual, and to heal what hurts the most, the headaches which are result of the abuse he faced.

Pinar, although still a bit reluctant, seems to be more hopeful. “Slowly, I will open up and be able to sort out things and even reach and achieve my dreams”. Besides, he is now waiting for the decision concerning his asylum in Greece, which makes him more optimistic.

When asked what his dreams were, he replied that he wished to live freely, to not be haunted by pain, to continue his studies and eventually become a lawyer. He wants to take care of himself and find a partner who he can love but who will also love him.

Pinar’s dreams are similar to the dreams of most people his age. While his need for love is the same as everyone’s, no matter their age, origin, sexual orientation, professional status or economic situation.

Love is for everyone”, states Pinar.

And we agree with him.

*Pinar lives in one of the SolidarityNow accommodation structures in Athens under the Safe Refugee program implemented by the organization and is part of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ESTIA Support Program for Integration and Housing and funded by the European Union Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO).

**Through the Safe Refugee Program, SolidarityNow provides accommodation to refugees, in independent apartments in Athens and Thessaloniki. The program’s beneficiaries receive free psychosocial support, legal counseling, they participate in educational and recreational activities, and are members of a wider support network that aims to improve their living conditions and support them during their stay in Greece.