Dance is a kind of work out, a sport, and a feeling. When I'm dancing, I feel like I'm in a whole new world. I can do almost everything without having to suffer, without having to feel stressed, I just ease into it. Sometimes, I get goosebumps when I see what I've done after dancing, so to me it’s like medicine that heals me in a way”
First video launched on December 9, 2018. Rawan's appeal to the Danes to fight for human rights and join National demonstrations against the new laws against refugees. Note: CC in English, Arabic and Danish.
From the age of 19, Peric lived 3 years on a boarding school only for male Catholics. Here, he experienced his first kiss with a guy. In Ghana, homosexuality is illegal, and a person can get up to 3 years in prison due to his or her sexual orientation. Gay couples are not allowed to hold hands in public and homosexuality is generally not accepted by the Ghanaian citizens due to cultural and religious reasons. Nevertheless, Peric started to notice that he was attracted to boys.
I wasn't sure at first, but I kissed a guy and was like ‘okay, what is this? I want to try it again’. I started thinking, it's not bad to kiss a guy, it's just who you are, it’s what you want.
Eventually, he told his twin brother about his sexual orientation, and the news carried on to his mother and later to his father until it spread to the entire family. While his brother and mother slowly got used to the news, Peric’s relationship with his father got more and more complicated. His father didn’t accept his sexuality: ”He didn't approach me with it at first, but it was a different technique he approached me with...”
In 2012, Peric’s father arranged a kidnapping of his own son. Two men attacked him while he was at home. They put a sock over his head, dragged him to a truck and drove him to a forest. Here, they were going to poison him, or ”heal” him as the kidnappers said, with toxic roots. Peric knew that these roots were able to kill him. Luckily, he managed to escape. But he didn’t feel safe at all. Besides having experienced what he called ‘life and dead matter’, Peric had seen with his own eyes how other gay people were treated in Accra:
A gay couple were stripped naked because they were only holding hands, and people were throwing stones on them. They pulled the car tires around them while they stripped them naked, and the they were gonna burn them alive.
Peric reflects on the irony of punishing homosexuality, but not the people wanting to kill homosexuals:
The police came to arrest the homosexual couple. Can you see the stupidity? (..) The couple was taken by the cops to the prison, and those who were throwing stones at them and wanted to burn them alive, were left to go free! So it’s really hard for young boys and girls, it is really hard for them to come out in the open, to be themselves.
FINDING SAFETY IN DENMARK
The following year, in 2013, Peric got a chance to travel to Denmark as a student at Krogerup Højskole in Humlebæk. He was now 23 years old. He stayed one year at the boarding school, where he made a lot of Danish friends. Opening up and telling his friends about his situation in Ghana and how he was almost killed, his friends started worrying about him. They recommended that he applied for asylum in Denmark, because he was in danger and not allowed to practice his sexual orientation in his homeland.
Peric decided to apply for asylum in 2014. In the asylum system people are under tremendous pressure due to their unknown future, and they are often moved from place to place by the immigration service with short notice. As a way to ease the difficult period, Peric decided to be active and follow his passion. He gave hip hop classes for children in school and joined a dancing group at GAME in Valby as often as he could. After a year, he received asylum with sideline support from the group, LGBT Asyl.
Two of the Bulgarian asylum centers that Rawan and Martin infiltrated, Lyubimets Detention Center and Harmanli asylum center. The photos are from March 2018, where Martin travelled to Bulgaria with journalist Florian Elabdi to follow up on the conditions in the centers.
The demonstration on December 10 2018, arranged by Rawan Abdullah. It took place on the main square in Rønne, Bornholm and hundreds showed up to show their opposition to the new Danish laws against refugees. Photos by Vilas Thaulow.
FEARING THE FUTURE
Now, Peric works in a kindergarten. He plans to take a dance education so he can teach kids in Danish SFO's (after school programmes). He still has a burning passion for dancing, though he mostly dance in the shower, and he follows dancing groups on youtube to get inspiration. In one year, Peric's resident permit will expire and he has to apply for an extension. He worries that he will be rejected asylum and fears to be send back to a country that criminalize homosexuality.
In Ghana, you can't even be yourself. You can't go out and hold your partner’s hand because people will go against you.
His hope for the future is that Ghana will change and that its citizens will be more open to homosexuality, so that people can show their sexuality without being arrested, attacked or killed.
While Peric is in contact with his mother and twin brother in Ghana, he doesn't get along with his father. As to his father, he explains:
He is the needle in my flesh. I have been trying so hard to get this guy to understand, but he seems like he is what he is (..). It stresses me sometimes, because I can't change him. And I can't change who I am to satisfy him. I can't and I will never do that (..) If there is sin, I hope God forgives me.