Growing up in Syria, life was relatively stable — until it wasn’t. My world turned upside-down in 2011 when civil war ravaged the country, separating families, destroying buildings, schools and parks and displacing millions of innocent people who were forced to begin life anew in strange lands with virtually no supportive services.
I remember seeing videos of queer people being thrown from the top of buildings in areas controlled by ISIS and similar groups.
Life was never easy for queer people in Syria to start with, but threats to one’s life grew exponentially amid the chaos and rise of religious extremists.
I was closeted at the time; a young doctor eager to start a career in saving lives. I remember hearing the sounds of sirens, gunshots and blood-curdling screams echoing from a distance, and realizing that I had no choice but to flee.