Ever since I remember my name, I remember being gay. But, I was a religious guy, a devoted Christian, I was in my mid 20’s when this Syrian / Iraqi crisis got more and more serious. The waves of refugees started really slow at the first few weeks, but then it got much worse. All those people, arriving in my country, most of them not even wanting to stay here, just to continue as quickly as possible to the old EU countries.
But my country didn’t care about them. They mistreated many of them and the housing that the state provided was very bad. This is why my local church community started to gather food and clothes at first, and then we also tried to raise as much money as possible to help out those in need. In the end, some of us volunteered to go to the refugee camps and offer our help and donations. And this is how it all began.
Not long after we’ve arrived at the camp, I’ve noticed a group of police officers bashing a group of Arab guys my age. The verbal conflict quickly escalated when the bullying of the police officers became really unbearable for the group of guys. But the police are always brutal and uses force, and so it happened to them as well. The police started to hit and arrest some of the guys and the entire camp got a bit chaotic. We, the volunteers, started to defend the refugees and somewhere in that chaos I got hit by a police officer and almost fell unconscious. All of a sudden a guy runs over to me and drags me away from the violence.
Still shocked by all that I’ve seen and the hit I received, I look at him and ask him what is going on, and why did he help me when his fellow friends were getting beaten up.
Him: you came to help us with the police, so I came to help you too.
Me: thank you for your help, I surely didn’t expect the police to be so nasty.
– he smiled –
Him: this? No, my friend, this is nothing compared to what we’ve been through and to what happens at night when the volunteers aren’t around. They beat us and try to deport us ilegally out of the EU border. I am tired and humiliated from this journey as if leaving my homeland wasn’t bad enough already…
– he frowns-
Me: well… I’m sorry to hear this. If you want, I can call the media and ask the…
– he interrupts me-
Him: please, no media, no news. When they leave it gets even worse for us.
Me: but I just want to help you.
Him: you have shown that you are a good man ten minutes ago with the police, but there is nothing more you can or should do. Really, please, just go home, the camps are not safe.
– he starts to turn around and leave –
Me: but can I at least know your name?
Him: my name is Samer, it was nice to meet you.
Me: Samer, please take my number and call me if you need anything or if I can help with the bureaucracy.
– I write my name and number down in his cellphone –
Him: it is nice to have a new friend in a foreign country, thank you. I must go back, otherwise, I will get into real problems.
He left, and as he was leaving, I got a really weird feeling in my stomach… something new for me too I guess. I remembered his strong manly arms, his black hair and the brown eyes that could melt an iceberg. He was so handsome. I felt really sorry that I could not enjoy the moment with him a bit longer.
Days have gone by, I was already back in my studio apartment, thinking about what happened and what can I personally do more to help. I hoped to get a message from Samer already, but he wasn’t texting me at all, and I didn’t have his number. A week has already passed and I have lost all hope. Maybe he got back on the route and is already in Sweden or wherever he wanted to go… That would be the best thing that could happen to him. But deep in my heart, I was a bit sad that he never texted.
The next morning I woke up to the sound of WhatsApp message.
Samer: salam aleikum my friend. It is Samer. I am still here, they don’t let us cross the border. It looks like I will be placed in a refugee center for some months until the paperwork is finished. I hope you didn’t think I forgot about you…
Me: it is so good to hear from you! I will see if I can do something to get you settled in a good refugee center, or something similar. I will let you know as soon as I get some info. I’m glad you didn’t forget about me because I thought a lot about you and your situation.
To my disappointment, my reply was sent, but not delivered. I took this as a sign of how serious his situation really was. I’ve heard about the police confiscating cellphones though. I’m glad he’s careful.
Almost a week has passed and I was a bit worried again but kept myself busy with some Church activities and volunteering. Also, I used the time to visit the administrative offices in the city to try and get Samer out of the camp and placed in one of the safer and overall much comfortable refugee centers. To my surprise, it was much easier than I expected, as he spoke English well and had a passport. I actually got him te clearance to be able to live on his own with occasional visits to the immigration offices.
The next day I finally got an answer from him.
Samer: I don’t think I’ll ever forget your kindness.
Me: Oh you’re online, that’s great! I was hoping you’d come online because I have some good news for you.
Me: I managed to get your documents sorted and you’re free to move out of the refugee camp whenever you want. You can move to the center now, or you can come and live at my place. It’s not much but I bet it is still better than the refugee center.
Sending that message I instantly started thinking if I’m doing the right thing. Shit, as if being a gay Catholic wasn’t enough, now I’m inviting a possibly very straight Muslim man to live with me in a 35m2 apartment. Oh, and I’m obviously also falling for him.
Samer: -incoming call-
Me: -declining the call, panicking- I’m sorry, at work right now, can’t pick up the call.
I lied, I was at home. But the idea of hearing his voice again so suddenly was overwhelming to me. I didn’t want to have a shaky voice or show my feelings in any way.
Samer: You did all of this for me… I must thank you a million times my friend. I wouldn’t want to cause any inconvenience to you. If it is not a problem for you, I would surely like to come to your apartment just for a few days until I rest a bit and get some sort of a plan. Thank you so much.
Me: Just don’t thank me so much! Rather tell me when can I pick you up? Is tomorrow ok?
Samer: 12:00 at the camp gate? Can’t wait to finally see you again my friend.
Me: sure, see you.
Friend? Hmmm, well. Friendzoned. But still, friends is good. Being friends is maybe just the beginning. You gotta start somewhere, eh?