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Gay, Persian and Nowhere To Turn

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Dear Ramone,

My name is Seth and I'm 20 years old and I just moved from LA to Perth Western Australia. I am from a Persian background, and I don't know where else I can turn.

My father found out about me being gay last night. He kicked me out of my home, took my money, my car and physically abused me (something he had never ever done) to the point I thought I was going to die.

I have no where to go, so even though he had done all this to me I begged him to stay. He made me a prisoner in my room. He blames me, saying that I made him do something that he has never done and that it's all my fault. My mother can't say anything. No one can confront him, he's changed into another person.

I have no one to talk to. All of my friends are str8 and will hate me when I tell them. I'm to shy to tell the few gay friends I have. I have no money to leave, even if I could leave I wouldn't go out with the state I'm in at the moment. I wish I could close my eyes and never open them again.

Maybe it is my fault... who knows.


Seth,

Run, don't walk, to GLCS (Gay and Lesbian Community Services of Perth Western Australia). If you can't visit their center, call their hotline immediately at (08) 9420 7201. They offer peer-operated telephone counseling and social support groups.

I know you may have feelings of shame, but it's not your fault for being who you are. Being gay in Persian culture is very difficult, especially given the atmosphere of intolerance of homosexuality rooted in Iran. Not to mention, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent statement that gays don't exist in Iran (which we all know is false).

I know you're not in Iran, but statements from leaders such as President Ahmadinejad and intolerable penal codes against gays in Iran send a cultural message to all Persians around the globe. If your parents are traditional (which it sounds like they are), then they take these anti-gay tones as a basis for social behavior.

And now, here you are—out, afraid, abused and alone. This situation must be devastating for you. But now it's time to focus on a different type of message: One of support, love, acceptance and your safety. There are many gay-affirming resources and people available to help you.

You didn't make your dad physically abuse you. That was his wrong choice. Your parents turned their backs on you in this vulnerable time so I understand why you would feel like ending it all. All too many young gay people feel the same way. In fact, 30 percent of all teen suicides are LGBT teens for many of the same reasons you describe above. You don't have to be a statistic. I don't want you to be one of those statistics. It's important that you stay around. And even though right now your situation seems hopeless, it can and will change.

Now is the time for you to surround yourself with affirming and accepting individuals who can help you get to a safer environment. Going to a gay and lesbian center can be intimidating at first. I know you're shy, but I encourage you to take this step and contact GLCS for a safe refuge and also take the leap and lean on the gay friends you do have. Make that your priority.

Also, read GLCS's You're Not Alone pamphlet and my article Dealing With Family Rejection.

Your parents' reactions were what they were and their acceptance may take time (or it may never happen at all). I tell you this not to make the situation worse, but to emphasize how important it is for you to care for yourself right now... And that journey does not have to happen alone. Get to safety in whatever way you can. Lean on the available support that is out there for you. You are not alone. It's not your fault. You deserve to be you and there is a community of people, including myself, that can help you be just that.

Yours here for you,
Ramone

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