DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, May 25, 2009
For Samir*, a 34-year-old gay man living in Saudi Arabia, each day is a denial. He lives in Mecca, the holiest city according to Islam, and is acutely aware of the stigma that surrounds his gay lifestyle.
"I'm a Muslim. I know it's forbidden, but I can't help it," he tells ABC News, clearly conflicted.
"I pray to God to help me be straight, just to avoid hell. But I know that I'm gay and I'm living as one, so I can't see a clear vision for the future."
Samir, like many gay men in the Arab world, guards his sexual orientation with a paranoid secrecy. To feel free he takes long vacations to Thailand, where he has a boyfriend, and spends weekends in Lebanon, which he regards as having a more gay-tolerant society.
But at home in Saudi Arabia, he is vigilant. Samir's parents don't know of his lifestyle. He says his mom would kill herse
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