How being an LGBT international student in Australia changed me

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02/26/2019

When Bijan Kardouni was 23, he went to the wedding of his secret lover. Bijan had met Sami* through the underground LGBT community in Iran, using a VPN blocker to contact him on a banned site called ManJam. A year later, Sami’s family forced him to marry a woman. Bijan was there to support him. “[He] was my first love and he had to get married, and I was there helping him and torturing myself by being there,” he says. Bijan arrived in Australia 10 years later in 2017 as an international student, feeling “like Alice in Wonderland”. But without a White Rabbit to follow, it took him a while to adjust to a new country. “When I was at Oxford Street the very first time I saw two policemen coming towards me. Those memories came back to me at that time. Like, ‘Oh, what do they want to do? Do they want to arrest me because of being gay?'”

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