#free speech
#South Africa
26 August 2008

I am gay and I am criticized in my country - help me!

Hello ,
I’m a gay guy from Tunisia and I have some problems being gay! A lot of people even at school criticize the way I talk and walk and they’re staring at me all the time.
Besides,I have sexual urges and I want to have sex but I can’t find sex partners to do it so I gave up and I became addicted to masturbation and gay porn movies. In my country, Tunisia, even gay and sexual websites are censored !
Sometimes , I think of committing suicide and it will be over … What should I do and can I contact any organizations abroad to help me travel and live abroad legally? I have heard about this gay guy who left Tunisia to the U.S in 2003 after getting help from a L.G.B.T organisation. I’m also planning on going to South Africa someday… Please I need your help!

JP Duc

Thank you for your question. I believe there are many other young people in a similar situation all around Africa, the Emirates, China and other countries where free speech and human rights are a challenge.

According to Amnesty International and other groups concerned with social and human-based issues, I found that Tunisia to be a country where human rights and free speech are still difficult. Tunisia is one of the countries that is known for blocking interactive websites such as Youtube, Dailymotion, Facebook, etc. This country has also been locking access to websites discussing alternative thinking and blogs from outspoken activists.

I can understand that being gay in Tunisia is extremely difficult, and I can also see how people at school would criticize you because you are different. Indeed, many of your schoolmates, teachers and administrators and other people you see everyday have not been exposed to positive, unbiased information, including nonpartisan news; a unfiltered information system and a nonreligious non-political information source. Because of strong religious and local moral and cultural beliefs in certain countries anyone who is or is perceived to be different will often be harassed by people in their surroundings. For your own safety you may want to act or be in a certain way to not attract attention to yourself.

It is perfectly normal that one has sexual urges and since you cannot find sexual partners, masturbation is a good way for now to relieve pent-up sexual desire. In reality, you are not necessarily addicted to gay porn movies.
Concerning studying in another country, it is definitely possible. What I have seen in the past is that a students prepare themselves financially, working and saving their money to be able to apply to a university program in Canada or the United States. To be able to do this you must first apply to a program that will allow you to travel and do one year or more of studies outside of Tunisia. You will be required to get a passport and student visa to be able to study in Canada or the United States. It is a step-by-step process where you might apply the first time and not have your request granted but the best advice I can give you is do not lose hope and keep applying. Another option is to accumulate some money and travel to North America during your summer vacation. This will allow you to make contacts, learn more about different cities in North America as well as immigration regulations.

What you can do for the moment is read information on the Internet or ask your school administrators about studying in another country. Find out about college and university programs that would allow you to access courses. You also have to find out what you have to study/prepare for these courses or classes.

I can assure you that there are other G. L. B. T. People who live around you but they are hard to find because they are hidden and discreet. These are websites that require future study but may lead you towards organizing a trip that could give you some self-confidence to work your way to a fulfilling adult life.

We at AlterHeros believe that everyone has a right to live in freedom regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, skin color, cultural and religious backgrounds, beliefs or morals. We hope young people such as yourself will work hard to change their destiny and live within what they want in their lives.

Please do not hesitate to write back if you need further help/information,
JP, Project10 Montreal, for AlterHeros