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Homeless and gay

 Haags Straatnieuws (The Netherlands) 25 May 2019

From a young age his brothers noticed that he was different. They questioned him, hit him and spat at him. “I was torn up inside. What was I supposed to do with my life?” I didn’t want to be ‘different’. I didn’t want to do that to my parents” says Hassan, a homeless and openly gay man from the Hague. Tanya Van Der Spek investigates the hidden culture of homophobia within the homeless community of the Netherlands, where despite 5% of the countrys population being openly gay, the rate of openly gay homeless people is much smaller. (700 Words) - By Tanya van Der Spek

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Haag's Straatnieuws

 Homeless and gay Photo: Haags Straatnieuws

THE HAGUE, the Netherlands - Between 20 and 40 percent of all young homeless people in New York are gay or bisexual. Often they are abandoned by their families or they have fled their parental homes because of domestic violence. How is the situation in The Hague? And is there homophobia among homeless people?

Hassan (26) sits at the kitchen table of a spacious and tidy apartment, one of the secret locations where de Haagse Stichting Wende houses men who are victim of doemstic violence. Hassan was born into a Morrocan familiy in the Netherlands. From a young age his brothers noticed that he was different. They questioned him, hit him and spat at him. "In the mean time I was torn up inside. What was I supposed to do with my life?" I didn't want to be 'different'. I didn't want to do that to my parents."

Rough estimates suggest that 6 to 10 percent of the population worldwide has gay or bisexual feelings. In the Netherlands, 1 in 20 people live openly gay. COC Haaglanden, the regional society for the interests of gays, lesbians and bisexuals, has only encountred one man who requested shelter, just like Hassan he was foreign. COC chairman Henk van de Wetering: "First we check if the person in question can stay with friends or family. Otherwise the problem only gets worse. If that doesn't work out, we liase with Stichting Wende." No one has to end up on the street, according to van der Wetering. In Amsterdam things are different however, last year 33 multi-cultural persons were in need of shelter.  They can go go to Safe Harbour for support. But there's always a shortage of shelters.

There are no official counts of  the number of gay honmeless men in The Netherlands or in the Hague. But there are many stories. "I know men who had to leave their homes because they had to act all the time. They were in so much personal trouble that they neede psychiatric help", tells Raichel Wawoe (45). He's originally from Curaçao and is openly gay. He moved to The Hague because he couldn't get along with the 'rednecks' in Zwolle and has been living on the street for almost two years now.

 

Abandoned

Hassan's identity crisis was slowly ressolved when he met a Dutch guy brought up in a strict religious family through a chat site. "We understoodf each other. We started a relationship and went to gay bars and clubs. During this time I learned to accept who I was." In the mean time the questioning continued: " when are you getting married?", "Where are you spending your nights out?" and "Are you sleeping with boys or girls?".  Hassan worried about his father's health and the arguments his beahviour caused between his father and mother. He tried to cope with the stress by using cannabis. Eventually he packed his bags and left. To another city. "Often i could stay at friends places. When I didn't have a place to sleep I would stay at the train station all night. But he didn't socialised with othe homeless persons. "i didn't feel like I was one of them."

Hassan is now openly gay. He saw an advertisement for Victim Support. He gave them a ring and got placed at Stichting Wende. "There's always someone to support me when I get flashbacks of my previous problems". Having a gay counselor has helped him a lot. Hassan is glad to be able to get his life back on track. "I'm starting to look out to the future again and would like to study for a degree.

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