In 4th of January I had a meeting with a journalist in the newspaper “Dagsavisen”. I told him about my bad life and how I had to wait and wait for a decision from the UDI. I had already lost 1.5 years of my life. I told him I wanted to give up, I couldn´t see any future. I would travel to the Netherlands. I had no hope, I didn’t want to stay here in Norway anymore, among Sylvi and her cruel decisions. All this I told the journalist. He promised me to publish it on Friday the 6th, after two days.
After the meeting I went to Anders and Yngvar, I felt so unhappy. On my way there I got a call, from UDI. She told me to go to the foreign police office next day, because they had made a decision. I was paralyzed and could not say anything. She didn´t say anything about what kind of a decision. I shut the phone without knowing. When I came to myself I called her back. I had to know, I couldn´t wait for 12 hours before knowing. How would my night be like? She repeated and asked me to go to the police next day to know. But stubborn me didn´t let this go without any answer. I told her to say yes or no, I promised I would not disappear. If no, they could come and deport me. She gave up and told me it is not a no, it is a positive answer in the decision. In one second my life changed. From a desperate young man to a crying young man, crying of joy. I went to Anders and Yngvar and told them. Hugged them and we all three cried of happiness.
I called my mother and told her, she had been so anxious to me. She promised to tell my father, sisters and brother about it. I posted my happiness on Facebook, I got more then 100 congratulations in a short time. From Norway, Europe and Syria. That warmed my heart that so many people wished the best for me.
I called the journalist about it and he was surprised and we decided to publish it in another way. He came next day to meet me, Anders and Yngvar. I was in first page and two pages inside the newspaper, that was very exciting for me.
The gay news and website “Gaysir” contacted me and wanted to interview me.
Also, another magazine, called “Utrop” wanted an interview. Even NRK, the Norwegian Broadcasting Company planned to make a documentary about refugees in Norway, about how they were integrated. I was at last not a part of the NRK program, but all this was so funny and I was so proud of that people was interested in me.
After one week I got the formal letter from UDI, that told I got residency for three years. The decision was taken 21th of December. After some days I got a new letter from UDI, that I was placed in a municipality outside Oslo, 30 minutes by train. Ås it is called. A nice, welcoming little town.
5th of February 2017, I was invited to two married men which I got to know at the Bear club. They invited for dinner. What I didn’t know was they had a special purpose. They had also invited a friend. He was 65 then, came into the living room and introduced himself. I told shortly of myself, and surprisingly he asked; Is that you? I have read about you. Then I got the answer for the purpose. This man had announced to his friends that he had a part of his apartment for rent. He was a widower; his man died last fall. His flat had three bedrooms and he had arranged the biggest one for rent, included a wardrobe and separate WC. I liked the room and would like to move into this mans flat. His name is Jan Ove. He seemed nice and kind, he offered me to guide me how to settle in Oslo. I really liked me in Ås, the staff at the reception was nice and I followed the classes and information given every week. But I wanted to come closer to Oslo and my friends there. I wanted to be more independent and get out of the refugee camps and start the introduction program.
The first thing I had to do, was to convince IMDI (immigration- and diversity directorate) and the district of Gamle Oslo, that this would be a good arrangement for me. IMDI told me that it was up to Gamle Oslo to decide, when Gamle Oslo said it was IMDI that decided. Many meetings followed, most of them about how to convince IMDI and Gamle Oslo that the best for me was to rent the part of Jan Ove’s flat. He followed me to some of the meetings, showed pictures of the flat and told about how he thought of renting out and how to make agreements between him and me. But Gamle Oslo told they had bad experiences about such kind of rental. I will think they probably had that, but they didn´t know about what intentions Jan Ove had. This month was very frustrating because of not to know, not to get any answers.
Jan Ove let me stay in his guestroom when I was able to go to Oslo. He was not the man in my dreams, but was nice, tried to improve my Norwegian and guided me into the Norwegian society. We went to museums, theater, cinemas and bars. Once there was a film festival focusing on Arabic movies. One of them, My Arabic Spring, I remember well because the director was there to discuss the movie afterwards. I stood up and asked him if he could make a similar movie about being gay in an Arabic country. He seemed a little uncomfortable and surprised of that kind of direct question. After a little hesitating he answered that honestly, he didn´t think so, because of the laws and culture would sensor such a theme. He had some examples about people openly spoke about and supported gays, and they got problem with that.
What no one told me, was that IMDI and Oslo City, had an agreement how to allocate refugees to the different districts of Oslo. Since I was officially born in January, I should be settled in Bjerke district. In March I got the letter from IMDI that I should be settled in Bjerke. After some research, I got the name of the woman who would be my adviser. I was told I had to live in Bjerke for at least three months before I could move to Gamle Oslo.
Jan Ove and I gave up this rental. From what can be called a friendship, it happened something between us. We talked this through and ended up in bed. He still wanted to rent the part of the flat. He had spent a lot of money to decorate the room. In reality I moved in too, not officially. If I did that, I would have been perceived as closing the intro program and loose my income. So, for a while three of us shared his apartment. The tenant was a Moroccan/Italian guy, at the age of 29. Neither of us was so close to him, so Jan Ove decided to ask him to move.
My adviser in Bjerke approved my arrangement with Jan Ove. She even told she liked refugees that managed themselves in that way. But still I had to follow IMDIs wishes and commands.
Eastern 2017, in the middle of April. I had decided to go to my two sisters in the Netherlands, they both lived in a town outside Amsterdam. Jan Ove wanted to join me, and we agreed that I should travel in advance, meet my sisters and their families. Jan Ove made a reservation at a hotel in Amsterdam, he didn´t want to lay in so close to my family. We could meet once in a while.
I had an agreement with my brothers-in-law that they should not tell I was coming. That should be a surprise, it was more than two years since last time I saw them. It was so nice to meet my two sisters, I shall not lie and tell that no tears were fallen that evening. One of my brother-in-law recorded when I called the doorbell. We had some swell days together before Jan Ove arrived Amsterdam. They wanted to meet him, and we agreed to visit the beautiful garden of Keukenhof together. I think they liked him, maybe they were not sure what kind of a relationship we had since he is so much older than me. Anyway, they told him that next time he was not allowed to stay in a hotel, he should stay with them.
Amsterdam is a lovely city. Jan Ove had been there a lot of times and showed me around. To the red-light district, the gay bars, the canals and many of the museums. Close to the Anne Frank museum, the Jewish girl that wrote her diary when her family had to live in secret in a loft during the war, there is a memory space, called the Homomonument. They believe that 100 000 men was arrested during the Nazi period in Germany. Between 5-15000 of these were killed in concentration camps. To recognize who were gays, the Nazis forced them to wear a pink triangle, like they forced the Jews to wear the symbol of a yellow star.
The red-light district was quite an experience. Jan Ove took me there in the evening, I could not believe my own eyes. Girls behind doors with glasses, almost naked, offered their services to men passing by. When Jan Ove said it was enough and wanted a beer, I told him to go around in the district once more.
Another specialty in Amsterdam is the coffeshops. Jan Ove stopped me outside of one and asked if it was smelling good from inside. Oh, it smells like good coffee, I answered. He laughed at me and explained the reason of its smelling. It is allowed to buy and use marihuana and that kind of stimulant in special cafés.
Amsterdam is a beautiful city with all its canals and special houses. I am glad I have my sisters there so I can visit the city often.
Back to Oslo after eastern. I was so happy at last to meet some of my close family. Nothing happened in my introduction program, more waiting. But Jan Ove and I spend the days together, he introduced me to his friends. All of them were very friendly and was meeting me with respect.
In May I was informed that they would lay down the reception in Ås. I hoped then I could officially move in to Jan Ove, but unfortunately not. They moved me to another camp in Asker, a former psychiatric hospital. Now Jan Ove´s birthday was approaching. He asked me to join him to Gran Canaria to celebrate his birthday. I was not sure, so I hesitated. But he begged and said that would be an excellent birthday present for him. I gave up, and said yes. We had a lovely time, travelling around the Island, swimming in the Atlantic Ocean and of course visited the many bars in the famous Yumbo center. One evening at one of the bars with drag show and dancing the Flamenco, I was unexpectedly invited up to the stage of one of the dancers. He introduced me to Flamenco. I had to follow him, when the audience was clapping and laughing.
At last, the 27th of June I had a meeting with my adviser that could tell they now were ready so I could move to Jan Ove’s place. He bought champagne and we celebrated. We registered my new, permanent address.
At the same time, it was the Pride Week in Oslo. For Jan Ove an annual thing, but for me something new and exciting. Stand at the Pride Park, discussions and meeting a lot of people. But the highlight for me was the parade the last Saturday. I loved it. In 34 years I had hidden myself, being afraid and now I should walk in the parade, openly in front of thousands of spectators. Walk together with more than 30 000 LGBTI+ people and our supporters. I cannot describe my feelings in words. Jan Ove loved to see me so happy, so we decided to follow different parades around Europe that summer.
But first we went to visit Amsterdam. This time Jan Ove joined me, we stayed the nights in one of my sisters flat. This time too very nice. Then it was Berlin, also a lovely city, bigger than Amsterdam. I have written about Berlin in another article, so I will not repeat this. After Berlin the trip went to Stuttgart, in the south of Germany. Two hours outside Stuttgart my cousin lives, Rami. My mother and her sister gave us the same first name, Rami. Rami is a modern name, not a typical historic, Arabic name. Not even a special Christian name. Jan Ove stayed at a hotel in Stuttgart. My cousin and his wife are very Christian and believe strongly in the words of the Bible. That says if you are a sinner, you are not going to heaven. As gays. After some days Jan Ove came and visited, he was welcomed and we all four and their son had a nice time together.
Of course, there were a parade in Stuttgart too. This was random. But we joined it, and had a nice walking through the streets of Stuttgart. Also, there thousands of viewers along the route. There was one thing I noticed, when it in the Berlin parade joined a lot of Arabian, I met only one in Stuttgart.
Next day, train to Paris. Me visiting Paris, this was like a dream. The train was a so called fast train, more than 330 km/h. But very comfortable. We passed Strasbourg, the meeting place for the Parliament of Europe, the Council of Europe and at last the European Court of Human Rights. Three and a half hours after we arrived Paris. Paris too I have written about before and made a video of my experience, this can be seen another place in my blog.
After some exciting days in Paris, the train back to Amsterdam. Some days there and the trip went back to Oslo. Jan Ove love to travel. He found cheap tickets and hotel in Copenhagen, we went there to join the Pride week and walk the Parade. For me as exciting as ever.
I got a new meeting with my adviser. She told me to go to the Education center to be tested in Norwegian. The purpose was to start Norwegian classes and the introduction program. This was the week before they would open the school year. I did not hear anything after that, and was wondering why. Another man from Syria got a telephone to start Norwegian classes the day the school opened. Not me, as usual. I didn´t get in touch with anyone to guide me, so I went to the school and asked what is happening. Why did I have to wait? I was only registered as an ordinary student, not as a follower in the introduction program. Some mistake somewhere. Luckily, they understood my frustration and my needs for starting the program. I had no money and started to be desperate to get some income. They turned around and got me placed in the school of Rosenhof, a special school for teaching Norwegian to immigrants. At last I was lucky, and happy to start my new life. More secure than before, more permanent. And I had a boyfriend. What else could I wish?
This spring and summer I felt so happy, I learned a lot. Not only Norwegian, but a lot about living in Norway. I have a lot of videos and pictures from our traveling around Europe, these I will publish later.