Landing in a new country and starting from scratch is a tough decision, especially when you leave behind a life filled with achievements and accomplishments. You arrive with feelings of disappointment, loneliness, and the injustice you faced in the past, which is overwhelming and disheartening. Often, laws and people perceive you differently, sometimes not even as a human being, while all you wanted was safety and the peace to live a normal life.

My expectations were not very high, as I knew I would have to fight again to rebuild my life and work towards new goals. However, I hoped that this time I would be surrounded by people and organisations who would appreciate and respect me as any other person. Yet, this seems even more challenging while still navigating the long asylum and integration process.

Finding community and pride at St Augustine's

As Pride Month comes around, I hear people being offended saying, 'Why do these people get a full month?' 'Why don’t we celebrate straight people?' 'They have more rights than we do now.' I understand why it might seem unnecessary to some, but Pride Month is an occasion for raising awareness and acknowledging the existence of marginalised people. In 64 countries, LGBTQIA+  individuals are still considered criminals, facing jail or even death. And everywhere else they often suffer from hate crimes and discrimination just for being who they are.
Therefore, Pride Month for me is a chance to breathe a sigh of relief and to remember that fleeing my home wasn't a loss but a fight for my right to exist safely. To remember that there are still friends and people back home or around the world suffering. It’s not about having more rights; it's about earning the basic right to live like everyone else after years of struggle. The world still isn’t completely safe for us, but during Pride Month, we celebrate the progress and continue the fight for true equality and acceptance.

Where I live now, I have found St Augustine’s, which helped me feel included and loved within the new community. I found people who could support me and make me feel safe, bringing hope back into my life and helping me feel like a worthy person again. I got the chance to feel productive and push myself forward by participating in many activities, such as creative writing and the fashion project. These activities have allowed me to express myself, improve my skills, and meet new people, making new friends along the way, as well as healing and improving my mental health.

Additionally, I have the opportunity to volunteer and contribute what I can, whether by interpreting for the staff and other Centre Members or working at the nail salon to make others happy. This is particularly meaningful to me, as I had a successful beauty centre back home that I lost, and it's relieving to still be able to do what I love.


Reflecting on My Journey and Sharing Experiences

My journey and struggles have been tough yet I hope inspirational for others; it's a privilege for me to share those experiences, even though encouraging and supporting people was one of the biggest reasons for my suffering and fleeing. Looking back at all of that brings me sadness and grief, but yet, I know there are people out there who need to hear my voice.

One of my new goals is to support others to embrace their true selves and love who they are, regardless of any challenges they face. I believe that everyone deserves peace, love, and recognition for their hard work (in any field) no matter who they are - as long as they also create a respectful and safe space for others. I aspire to make people like myself feel less alone, reminding them that they are loved and appreciated, and encouraging them to stay strong and resilient.

To my fellow LGBTQIA+ individuals seeking asylum

I want to offer words of encouragement and advice. It's vital to remain resilient and determined in the pursuit of freedom and acceptance. Remember that your life didn’t stop after fleeing. In fact, it has just started. Take advantage of the safety provided by your new environment to begin constructing your supportive community and integrating into society. Live your life authentically, embracing the dreams you've long held. Stay productive and contribute to society, as each step forward brings you closer to achieving your goals and aspirations. Your journey is one of strength and courage, and I believe in your ability to thrive.

Lastly, I believe it’s important to make efforts toward integrating other communities of asylum seekers. As an asylum seeker, initially, you may find yourself surrounded by others from different societies and beliefs, that might be the same ones you fled, which sometimes can be frustrating. We need to work towards integrating people from various backgrounds and raising awareness among asylum seekers about the importance of respect for the LGBTQIA+ community and any other marginalised minority. Together, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all.