I’m a 16-year old Iraqi boy – I want to be free to say

Hi Bayar, thanks for coming to Alterheros with your question. I hope I

can provide you with some help.

First of all I want to congratulate you for finding the strength and

courage to come online and search for help and support. I’m sure it is

not easy for you to find any kind of safe place or resource that you

can trust, so I’m happy that you’ve been brave enough to contact


I’d like to divide your question into a few different categories:

staying safe in your country, options for leaving your country, where

to find support, and how to get by in your day to day life with your

friends discriminating against you.

I want to make it clear that my first priority in this situation is

your safety, my second priority is your happiness. With these two

things in mind, I understand completely that you feel frustrated at

having to hide and deny your sexuality and your true self around your

best friends and family every day. However, Bayar, as much as I would

love to, I cannot counsel you to stand up for yourself and be out and

proud. It is essential that you stay safe and if that means that you

need to stay closeted for a little while longer, than that is

unfortunately the reality of where you are living. Try to stay

positive about it though. Try focusing your energies on something else

for a little while. For example, if you are in school you could focus

on academics so that maybe you could move to another country to attend

university soon, or you could play sports, or spend your time dreaming

of where you will move when you get a chance. I have been reading a

lot about homosexuality in Iraq and I do not envy your situation. From

what I have read, there is really no safe way to be gay in your

country. There is not even a safe way to know someone who is gay. You

might want to start researching immigration and visa laws in order to

know how old you have to be in order to immigrate or receive a

student/work/travel visa to a more gay friendly country.

In the meantime I think it is important that you try to act in a way

that does not draw attention to your homosexuality, in order to stay

safe. Start working to earn and save money so that maybe you can go to

another country for a summer vacation. Develop other elements of your

life so that you will be well equipped and prepared to live a well

balanced life when you do leave your country.

I hope that you do not lose your confidence, your hope, your pride,

and your courage, Bayar. Everyone deserves to live their life openly

and not feel ashamed of who they are. Unfortunately there are so many

countries around the world where this is not an option. Even in Canada

and the USA there are daily accounts of violence and discrimination

against LGBT individuals. You are a valuable person and I hope that you

keep reaching for something better than you are living right now. You

deserve to be happy, so keep your eye on the bigger picture and work

towards your goal of finding a healthier place to live. You might want

to investigate these organizations which may be able to help you find

some sort of support system:




I recommend you also take a look at these questions that are related

to your situation, maybe the answers will provide you with further




I hope this has been helpful to you Bayar, please stay safe and know

that there are ways for you to live a healthy, happy, and open life in

the near future.

Please feel free to contact us again if you have any more questions or

concerns, or just need someone to talk to.

Hillary, for Alterheros

About Hillary Greer

Hillary is currently completing her Bachelor of Social Work at McGill University, hoping to continue on to her Master degree after. When she lived in Toronto, she volunteered and worked at an alternative youth and family counselling organization with Dr. Karyn Gordon. Since moving to Montreal, she has completed an internship at Head and Hands, and has now been involved with AlterHeros for almost two years! She am now doing an internship at the MAB-Mackay Rehabilitation center, working with families of young children with hearing impairments and developmental delays.

Being a part of the outreach team at AlterHeros has given me the chance to explore a wide variety of topics and connect with the queer community a bit more. I had a lot of emotional support growing up and was supported in whatever choices I made. I love being involved with Tell the Experts because it enables me to be able to connect with individuals who might be looking for that kind of support for themselves. Growing up, exploring and questioning yourself, and coming out can be difficult and sometimes scary, and I am thrilled to be able to help as many people as possible to make this journey an easier one.