After 24 hours in London I learned I was being sent to Cardiff, Wales, a city I’d never heard of and neither could I place on the map.
The buildings are shorter, and the air cleaner, I guess I am not in England anymore.
The car pulled over in front of a building, LYNX Hotel: I am sure that my heart skipped few beats when I entered the building. Although a luxurious name, it was to say the least a doomster, the waiting area is unwelcoming, the walls painted with ‘’dirty’’ white and a 52’’ tv on the wall mostly airing the news channel.
The guy who’s doing the induction for us (I forgot his name, for a good reason perhaps) asked us to wait for him and said he would be with us shortly. While waiting, my eyes locked with another person in the waiting area. He was here before me, his eyes said it all ‘’you have no idea what you got yourself into’’.
We were called to the room to speak with the guy, for our induction, this is the moment when I hated my sexual orientation and the trouble it brings me. Basically it was breakfast at 8:30, lunch at 12.30 and dinner at 4:30 and don’t argue with the staff, and NO WI-FI (a human rights violation according to the 2011 UN report), no money for the duration of my stay in the LYNX hotel. After this unpleasant induction I was shown my room; the room increased my depression, an empty room with a bunk bed placed by the big window, a dim light, no carpet and an uncomfortable bed. I was reminding myself to stay strong: it is just temporary.
To live in Wales you need to have some vaccines, and as a person living with HIV, any vaccine to boost my immune system makes me happy. While chatting with the nurse she asked me about my mental health. At this point it was very low so she advised me to see a psychiatrist. My first meeting with this professional was a quick one: time just to hand me a prescription, even when I loudly said no to the pills she insisted on me taking them, based only on a conversation I had with the nurse. With her insistence I had to give in, but as soon as I left the hospital, I flushed the medication down the toilet, and had to face my demons alone.
During my stay in LYNX Hotel, I meet a girl from Ivory Coast whose name was Rose. She was also gay so I felt very comfortable around her. We went out twice to Kings, a gay bar down town Cardiff, being away from LYNX made us feel free, away from the prejudice and stigma and homophobia, of the residents of the hotel. I acknowledge my own prejudice saying this about them, but I was not ready to test the water; I did it once before and It didn’t go how I hoped it would. Kings was our safe space, a place where we show our true colours, even though it is becoming more filled by Heterosexuals more than the LGBT+ community. We didn’t care it is still our safe space. Rose used to buy me drinks with the money that her friend sent her. I must say she was my biggest support; she was the shoulder I was crying on.
Forty days in this open prison taught me to be patient and not to take things for granted. My next move was to move to a house provided by the NASS support - finally I will have a bed and a single room. Good news followed, my friend in the Netherlands got his leave to remain. It gave me so much hope and many aspirations: soon it will be me.
The driver is ready to pick me up. Luckily I had two bags, the person riding with me had more so had to choose between his luggage as we are only allowed to take two bags with us. We are forced to choose and leave our memories, perhaps sometimes a piece of ourselves, in that bag.
The car starts moving, and a new journey has begun…