On June 15, three days after the attack on an Orlando gay nightclub by a gunman that killed 49 people and left 53 injured, Yousuf Rezk, 18, posted a picture on Facebook of a man raising a rainbow flag (a symbol of LGBT pride) with the Pyramids of Giza as a backdrop. Not surprisingly, the face of the man in the picture was hidden to protect his identity. The caption below the photograph read, “In solidarity with the LGBT community around the world, which still has to fight against hatred and discrimination."
As a young member of Egypt’s LGBT community, Rezk has experienced prejudice and stigma firsthand. He is one of a handful of Egyptian gays who have courageously come out to their families about their sexual orientation. And Rezk has gone even further. On his Facebook page, he defiantly describes himself as "an LGBT activist." Going public with his sexuality is an act of bravery in Egypt, a deeply conservative society where nearly 200 people have been arrested since late 2013 on the charge of “debauchery.” A 2013 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 95% of Egyptians believed that homosexuality should not be accepted by society.