Secret Life of a Lonely Gay Christian in Yemen
As Al-Qaeda and ISIS encroach on his once-progressive city, one terrified young man has become the ultimate “infidel.”
Photos by Maria de la Guardia
The day after cautiously navigating the remains of churches and Christian graveyards burnt and defaced with graffiti and pockmarked by the bombs and bullets of Al Qaeda and ISIS, Ahmed Nader – a pseudonym used for his protection – sits across from me. He is visibly nervous throughout our interview, even though we are in a secret location that took weeks for him to agree upon. Nader, in his mid-thirties, constantly asks for reassurance that no one can overhear our conversation. Sweat creates dark patches on his t-shirt. His shuffling feet move dust and dirt around the floor as only the afternoon sun illuminates the space.
A resident of Aden, a regional capital in southern Yemen, Nader converted to Christianity from Islam more than two decades ago. He is also gay.
“In Yemeni society I wish people would see me not as ‘just gay’ or ‘just Christian,’” he says between numerous glances out an open window. “I am a human being, a person. I wish they would see me as t…