Gay Integration in Sweden!


                    “It is not easy to write about integration in Sweden if you would not have the opportunity to integrate” This was what Mizo’s answer when I asked him to write his life and the integration in Sweden as a newcomer. Mizo is 21 years old, he was a student in law at Damascus University. He was sitting in front of me in my kitchen. I could figure that he was in a restless mood. Eventually, he asked my permission to go out to smoke in the yard.

Mizo had told me how much he felt lonely since he came to Sweden as a gay asylum seeker. He could not integrate with his compatriots in the asylum seekers’ accommodation -The building was located in a small town in woods- Because was unsure if they were homophobic or not. But he was sure that it was better to hide his sexual identity. So, he preferred to be silent and live inside his shell”.

“He left the asylum seekers’ accommodation exactly on the day he was granted his residence permit. Mizo wanted to start a new life in a big city in Sweden -He is keen to integrate- but his first shock was in the Samhälle course at the integration center. The teacher clearly said that she herself does not support the gay people’s rights. Then he added: The teacher is extremely gay, and Mizo gets messages from him on Grinder very often”.

“Regarding the integration center and the job center plan, He tried to start his new life by his own away. He began to attend the city bars and restaurants and look for where the gays people usually meet. Disappointment! Mizo could not build any friendships or bridges with the Swedish gay guys. These types whom dressed fancy and eat in expensive restaurants were not interested in a gay refugee”.

“Another choice here is the apps, where the gay men could be meeting and dating. He was tearful when he said: Many were blocking him or just ignoring after his answer that he is a refugee”.

In ten minutes, Mizo came back after he smoked his cigarette in the yard. He decided not to write an article himself; then he asked me to write what he just told me before.

Khaled Alesmael

This Article published in Swedish in Artikel 14 magazine in Autumn 2016.

Published by Khaled Alesmael

KHALED ALESMAEL is a multi-awarded journalist, author and sometimes filmmakers. He worked in Syria and the Middle-East for more than fifteen years, was the correspondent for Radio France International/ Arabic from Damascus and the media officer for the risk reduction project/ UNDP Damascus. In 2012, he escaped the war and continued his career in the media in Egypt and Turkey. He apply for asylum in Sweden in 2014 and he got it and became a Swedish citizen in 2018. His works have appeared in the prestigious investigative programs Investigative Mission/ SVT and Conflict Program/ Swedish Radio, and he has been writing for several newspapers and magazines like Ottar in Stockholm and Newstatesman magazine in London. He has also worked for the daily German newspaper as a visiting journalist through the International Journalist Program. He became a Swedish citizen in 2018, and he lives in London now. Selamlik is his debut novel; it came out in August 2018. It has got considerable attention in the Swedish media and positively reviewed: "Selamlik is a prospective classic, a low-key melancholy, and grand book." - Dagens Nyheter “He reminds me of Jean Genet, as brutal as helplessly romantic”. The legendary Swedish gay writer Jonas Gardell for Expressen. “A magnificent account of the Syrian disaster" Sydsvenskan. "Selamlik glances at gates to other worlds" JP. "Khaled Asmael's debut novel about a man's escape from the Damascus gay scene to a refugee center in Europe glides imperceptibly between fantasy, nightmare, and reality" Göteborg Posten.

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