Born in Sudan, Khalid relocated to Malaysia in 2022 before reaching out to Rainbow Railroad and eventually resettling in Canada in September 2023. Below, he shares his reflections on his journey seeking safety over the past two years.
This story contains reference to violence and other forms of abuse towards the LGBTQI+ community.
Growing up in a seemingly privileged middle-class family, I soon realized that appearances can be deceiving. Despite their education and outward prosperity, my family held deep-rooted prejudices, particularly towards the LGBTQI+ community. Living in a country where being queer is not only socially condemned but also criminalized, I witnessed the horrifying consequences of such discrimination firsthand. People were persecuted — even killed — simply for being true to themselves.
One tragic incident hit close to home when my dear friend lost his life at the hands of his own father, when he discovered his son’s sexual orientation. This injustice fueled my anger and helplessness, driving me to seek safety and freedom elsewhere. Little did I know that my escape would mark the beginning of an arduous journey.
Bidding farewell to my tearful mother, I embarked on a path that would forever change my life. To study abroad I knew Malaysia isn’t the best place, but in comparison to back home, Malaysia is better. However, my worst nightmares materialized overnight. My once supportive family turned their backs on me, leaving me homeless and utterly unprepared for the challenges ahead. Suddenly, I found myself alone, unable to even cook or wash my own clothes. It was a harsh awakening, far removed from the security I had known within my family.
Sadly, my struggles did not end there. As an asylum seeker,
I faced exploitation, abuse, and racism in my workplace. The restaurant industry became my new reality, where I had to swallow my pride and endure the cruelty of labor exploitation. It was a stark contrast to the work I had previously done back home with NGOs supporting refugees. Never could I have imagined that one day I would become a refugee myself.
Amidst the hardships, a glimmer of hope emerged. In Malaysia, I discovered organizations like Jejaka and Justice for Sisters who stood by me and provided support to me. Their unwavering dedication inspired me to commit my life and time to helping others in similar situations.
And because of Rainbow Railroad, I have found safety and refuge in Canada. Their tireless efforts have provided me with the opportunity to rebuild my life and advocate for others in similar situations. I realized the importance of solidarity within our community, as no one understands our struggles better than ourselves. Together, we must fight for our rights, for we are the most targeted and vulnerable community in the world.
In Canada, I really want to engage with my Canadian community and to learn from the LGBTQI+ community. I hope to use this knowledge to help the queer community back in Sudan. I want to work towards ensuring every single individual has access to healthcare because in Sudan we are still dealing with stigma surrounding HIV, and discrimination and criminalization of queer identities.
I’m committed to supporting my Sudanese queer community and anyone in need, and it’s not just something I want to do – it’s a journey to make things better. I want to fix important problems and help those who need it. I want to make sure their voices are heard.
Even when things get tough, I stay hopeful and focused. If I can achieve these goals in my lifetime, it’s not just a win for me, but it shows how working together and caring for each other can make a big difference.
I dream of a world where everyone, no matter where they come from, can do well and have their voices heard. My dream isn’t just about reaching my goals; it’s about inspiring others to work together for a fair and equal future.
As I reflect on my journey, I am reminded that strength arises from adversity. My experiences have shaped my determination to empower and uplift the queer community. It is our collective responsibility to fight for our rights, ensuring that the world recognizes and respects our existence. Let us stand together, united in our pursuit of equality and justice.