When I was released from prison, I had to consider my situation, both as the system that I criticized and the fact that I had acknowledged that I was gay. Syria and the regime had the support of Russia, it meant to me that it was an opportunity to get a visa and work permit there. In July 2011 I went first to Beirut in Lebanon to take a flight to Moscow. I had through my mother’s cousin got a temporary job as a manager in a large department store where I worked with logistics and data. This was a small city of Yasnogorsk at 17000 inhabitants, 3.5 hours by train from Moscow.

I was well received in the city, in the workplace and was familiar with many people. A small problem was that everyone around me felt that I at the age of  31 years was ready for marriage. I was introduced to a nice girl of 25 years who all thought would be a perfect wife for me. She was blond, pretty, easy to talk to and definitely a good party for a lot of men, but as I said before, not for me. Her family and friends thought I showed too little interest and was too little ongoing to wake her attention. They believed all that she had shown an obvious interest to me. In addition, would a marriage with her give me working permit and secure my rights in Russia. Once they had arranged it so that I was invited back to her. I experienced this as they forced me and tried to twist away, but in vain. I did as I was told and went to her apartment. I felt that I was put in prison again, but had to be with her in 2.5 hours until I got away. In defense of myself, I had seen that this was a future opportunity for me. But when we two were locked up together, as I experienced it, I had no feelings that gave room for me to share my whole life with her. It would also not be right above her, I was convinced that I would never be able to fulfill the expectations of the marital duties.

After the Russian revolution in 1917 where the Bolsheviks and Vladimir Lenin executed the Russian Tsar Nikolai II, Lenin changed a lot of laws in Russia. Among them was at the influence of Karl Marx that all people are born equal and have equal rights. He abolished the law that discriminated gays. This lasts only a few years until Stalin became the leader of Russia in 1924. Today Russia under the president Putin the laws say that it is ok to be gay, but never talk about it in public, and never talk about gays in a positive matter. It is not allowed to advertise about bars that are special gay bars.

Through phones and computers, the downloads of different applications, there is some that are intended for gay men seeking other gays. My friends in the city wondered why I travelled to Moscow so often. I could not tell the truth, but made a little white lie about that I liked Moscow as well and would became more familiar with the city. Once I had an appointment to meet a man in a public park in Moscow. He was quite not my type, when I think back, I didn’t like him at all. But I was horny and wanted the excitement out of my body. When we started to approach by touching and kisses, there suddenly came two men out of the dark and make some noise of our doing. They started beating and as I understood threatening. My Russian language was not good, and their English was even pourer. I was a foreigner and afraid of what could happen if I used my knowledge about self-defense, my strength and wrestling abilities. I therefore tried to calm down the situation and get out of the park. I will never know if this was any agreement to harassment or robbing, because I didn’t understand what these men said in Russian. I came from this, but taught me to not always rely on contacts through the apps and the Internet. On Norwegian, I’ve learned a saying called; When the dick is crazy, the mind is gone. For me, this became a truth and I learned something about being gay.

My employment contract neared the end and I understood that I would be sent back to Syria. We were three men from Syria, two of them worked at a factory nearby, that was in the same situation. We came in contact with a Russian man in Murmansk on the Kola Peninsula in northern Russia. Murmansk is a city of just over 300 000 inhabitants and is an important port in northern Russia because of the ice-free ocean in the winter time. It is located just a little over 100 km from the Norwegian border and people living there have a special travel pass for visa-free to be able to pass the border to Norway. This man offered us to drive and we three flew from Moscow to Murmansk. We learned that there was an agreement between Russia and Norway that the border could not be passed on foot, but with a vehicle on wheels.

I thought it was an adventure to cross the border to Norway. A country I knew almost nothing about. After crossing the border, we told the police that we wanted to seek protection in Norway. They took our fingerprints, checked the Dublin agreement and asked about our personal information. Then we were flown to Oslo for more registration and health surveys. The time after I will tell about in a separate article.

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