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This gay Syrian man is changing perceptions of what it means to be a refugee

2016-09-16
The media is failing refugees. The image of little Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach rightly stunned even the most right-wing publications to reconsider how we treat those displaced by war, natural disaster or discrimination. But, in too many cases, the sympathy only extends to refugees who have already died. The world wept for Aylan, but across the world too many living refugees are treated as burdens, or, worse, threats by the media. The media's coverage of refugees switches from fear-mongering to sympathetic. But whether or not the media reports on refugees positively, behind ever story, every stat, there's a person. Sibhi Nahas was forced to flee Syria in 2015 after a militant group connected to Al-Queda took control of his city. However, the fight for survival started long before the civil war which has raged in the country for the past five years. "I never felt safe anywhere, even at home where my father was verbally and physically abusive because of my gender expression," he writes in an exclusive column for Attitude's October issue - available to download and in shops now. "Life was a race for survival. I always thought that it was my fault and that I had to change." He continues: "There was no gay life or community in Syria even before the uprising, I few up feeling all alone, as if I was the only gay person in the world." Moving to America gave Subhi more freedom to express his sexual identity. But while the pressure to conform may have eased in some respects, the growing anti-refugee sentiment there and around the rest of the world makes settling a challenge. "I watch the news daily and fear for my family and friends," he says. "On top of that, seeing all the anti-refugee movements in the US and other countries saddens me because I know the arguments used are based on misinformation and lies." But despite the hatred stirred up against refugees, Subhi has made a home out of his new country: "It is never easy to transition and assimilate, even in a safe city such as San Fransisco, but I was lucky to have my sponsors' endless support." Over the past few years, numerous reports have shown how the UK and other countries will either enforce LGBT refugees to undergo humiliating interrogations to prove their sexual or gender identity - or even worse, send people back to dangerous countries for not being able to "prove" they are LGBT. As Subhi puts it himself: "Many LGBT+ refugees are still waiting in countries of transit where they think they have reached safety, only to be hunted". You can read Subhi's full story in Attitude’s October issue, available to download now from pocketmags.com/attitude and in shops now. Print copies are available to order from newsstand.co.uk. att275nyle_150 Also in Attitude’s October issue, alongside all your usual news, reviews, fitness & travel:
  • In a theatre special, we meet the young out and proud stars of the National Youth Theatre as the iconic drama group celebrates its 60th anniversary.
  • Former Game of Thrones star Gethin Anthony talks playing gay in Westeros and his new role as infamous – and sexually ambiguous – criminal Charles Manson.
  • Fear the Walking Dead‘s Colman Domingo tells us all about life playing one of the hit zombie series’ most electrifying gay characters.
  • We catch up with fabulous pop females AlunaGeorge and Rebecca Ferguson as they prepare to release new music.
  • Eurovision winner Jamala she reflects on life for Ukraine’s LGBT+ community as she looks ahead to next year’s competition.
  • Syrian refugee and LGBT+ activist Subhi Nahas shares his uplifting story of strength and strife in the fact of war and oppression.
  • As Black History Month gets underway, we examine the new generation of black LGBT+ role models inspiring today’s young people.
  • Iconic ’80s star and friend of Boy George Marilyn shares the lessons learnt from a life well-lived.
  • We chat to French actor Geoffrey Couët, one of the two stars of new romantic gay drama film Theo & Hugo.
  • Male model Oliver Cheshire talks us through his favourite trends for Autumn/Winter 2016.
  • We catch up with RuPaul’s Drag Race All Star Alyssa Edwards (and attempt to finally find out her secret) in new monthly feature ‘Big in a Wig’.