Open for Options
(Editor: For the protection of the person in this story her name has been changed.)
An "anything goes" dress code is the norm at the LGBTA Student Resource Center. But even there Fatmah Almeer stands out. She is the only person wearing a hijab. Almeer is an international student from Saudi Arabia.
In Saudi Arabia if anyone came out as gay, lesbian or anything under the LGBTA umbrella it would be a risk to their lives, Almeer said.
Throughout conservative areas in the Middle East LGBTA live in fear of being picked up by the religious police while they are at a restaurant or walking down the street. People who violate Muslim values against homosexuality may be taken to a prision. Sometimes they are simply "disappeared" and family members must search for them, going from prision to prision.
In Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia faith and politics are interwoven because Islam is a way of life. It is not unusual for the Islamic religious police to tell a woman how she should wear her hijab. At its extreme firemen may be prevented from rescuing young women from a burning school building.
Many students who come from the Middle East experience a new found freedom that they are not used to when they come to America.
"Its scary if you don't have the right foundation because you might get lost in it [freedom]." Almeer said.
Though Almeer said she has not lost her religion and continues to practice her faith all while keeping her LGBT identity. She is weighing the future from return home and marrying a man to considering not going home at all.