My first day in France: Joël

"In our country, being gay is not allowed… Because I wanted to save my life… I had to leave it." Joel arrived in Paris after fleeing Uganda — this is how he lived his first day in France.

‘I left Uganda because of my sexuality’

I reached Paris; I did not get the happiness I thought. The only thing that got to me was that I’m alive, I’m not dead. I remember when I came, I was stranded here with the bags. I stayed here for a long time, for hours and hours. I didn’t know what to do. What I remember, I saw the police guys taking some people, and I thought I was also going to be taken. So, I went in the corner, I sat there, I cried. I cried until I had to say, “Now, Joel, it’s over! You have to fight, or you have to think.” So, I had to think and say, now, what can I do next?

I got a phone, I called my friend back in Uganda, and I said asked him for help, if he knew anyone here. So, he gave me the contact and I called. And then I had to call a friend here and had to come and rescue me, but unfortunately, he also didn’t know. He did not have a place because he had also just come here. We got a connection and then we went to Bonne Nouvelle. That’s where I slept.

And after getting problems, issues, after my life being in danger, being recognized as a gay person, as a gay activist, and as a human rights defender. Because in our country, being gay is not allowed. I do not have a dream to leave my country because I thought that everything, I had in my country was fine for me. We are here at OFPRA, where I got my special constitutional status in France, after France recognized me as a special person. I left Uganda because of my sexuality. It was okay. But because I wanted to save my life, I wanted to have a good security and to secure my life, I had to leave it.