LGBTQ+ stories from around the world to challenge how we perceive queer livelihoods

Sara, Basra (Iraq)

I met my girlfriend two years ago on a dating app. Being a woman and a lesbian in a city like Basra is very difficult. We do not have the opportunity to express either one of our identities. Because of that, I never thought I would ever meet someone who will know about both of my identities, accept them, and even love me because of them. I never thought that I would ever be able to express my feelings as a woman, as a lesbian without fearing for my life and without facing any consequences. Being in a relationship with my girlfriend is the best thing that has happened to me. She makes me feel safe and loved. Two things even my mother did not provide me with. My relationship with my girlfriend pulls me away from the negativity and fear. When we are together, I am lost in our time together. Even though we sometimes go on long walks together, most of our time is either spent in my bedroom or hers. It is not acceptable for girls my age to go out a lot in Basra. My family, like many others, are traditional and more strict with girls. Our families think we are best friends, so they are okay with us spending a lot of time visiting each other. Despite all the love I have for my girlfriend, and the love I feel from her, we are always afraid of being caught. Every time I kiss her in my bedroom, half of my attention is on my bedroom door. Fearing that one day one of my siblings or parents would walk in on us! Sometimes I get carried away by these thoughts and think about what might happen if that ever occurs. Will they hit me? Will they insult me? Will they kill me? Sometimes these questions make me cry as I do not understand why something beautiful like the feelings my girlfriend and I have for each other are considered as a great sin in my society. But at the end, I focus more on what I have. I do not care where I am when I am with her. As long as I am with her. As long as we have a place where we can be ourselves, hold hands, watch a movie, and talk about poetry, love, and music. Even though I know my life is very difficult and I could face all sorts of punishments at any given moment, I am thankful for what I have. I know I am one of the lucky ones who found love and has someone who will always be there for her. Because if I did not have her in my life, I do not know what I would have doneā€¦

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