His parents attempted to send him off to a gay conversion therapy camp in Kenya. Instead, he fled the country — and now has been awarded $10,000.
The money was granted to Mahad Olad by the Colin Higgins Foundation’s Annual Youth Courage Award, according to LGBTQ Nation.
The publication also reports that Olad’s family sent him to Kenya in 2007, telling him they were on a “family vacation.” Instead, his mother eventually confessed it was an intervention and that he would be sent to the camp.
“Similar to the practice of gay conversion therapy in the United States, there are those within the Muslim community who utilize abusive tactics as a way of policing what they consider to be ‘deviant’ behavior,” Olad wrote for The Ithacan. “Even though my mother ‘asked’ me to go, I knew that it wasn’t really a choice.”
His family wished for him to withdraw from college in New York to be guided by sheiks.
Gay conversion therapy camps in Kenya commonly have “severe beatings, shackling, food deprivation, and other cruel practices.” So when Olad had an opportunity to escape, he took it.
LGBTQ Nation reports he called the Ex-Muslims of North America, who helped him out of the country and back to the United States.
“While I’m lucky to have close friends who have offered comfort, it does nothing for the hole my family ripped into my heart. I know what they did to me was horrible and wrong, but they are still my family and reconciling with them will take some time.”