On a hot, summer afternoon at Yiasemi, a tourist-packed cafe in Athens’s historical district, Lawrence Alatrash, a gay, Syrian refugee sits hunched over a cellphone, scrolling through photos on Grindr. Alatrash identifies as nonbinary (neither male nor female) and sometimes goes by the pronouns “they/them/their.” (For this piece, Alatrash says he’s OK being referred to as “he/his/him,” as he says he is not totally defined by any particular pronouns.)
Grindr is a popular dating app for gay, bisexual and transgender men and has made the queer dating scene easier for millions of people in nearly 200 countries around the world. However, the app is partially or entirely banned in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Turkey, the last of which is a common transit point for refugees coming from the Middle East and North Africa on their way to Europe.
Alatrash fled his homeland in 2012, not only because of the developing Syrian civil war but also because of safety concerns due to his sexual orientation and gender identity. At 25 years old, he now has the freedom to openly express his queer self for the first time in his life.
Full story here.