Healing through dance: Henry’s story

Henry found a safe space for healing and community through Micro Rainbow's body and movement programme.

Henry is a young, gay Iranian man. In Iran, same sex sexual activity is criminalised, and the maximum penalty is the death penalty. Both men and women are penalised under this law. Henry has been participating in Micro Rainbow events and activities since January 2023. He is a regular and long-term attendee of the Body and Movement programme which is part of Micro Rainbow’s social inclusion work. He first came to an event in 2022. He now has his refugee status.  Learn more about the impact of the body and movement programme by attending the exhibition, touring through June. 

Healing through dance

My name is Henry and I’m from Iran. I’m 27 years old and I’ve been in the UK since December 2022. I had to leave Iran because, as a gay man, it was not safe for me there. In my country, LGBTQI people face the death penalty. I had to leave after my relationship with my boyfriend, who was a judge, was discovered.

My family knows I am gay. When I was 18, I was very brave (or stupid!), I would say anything to anyone. I was open about being gay. I told my family: “I’m gay”. They didn’t accept it. My partner tried to tell me not to do it, but I was stubborn. My mother told; “You cannot live in this house if you are gay, your father will not accept it”.

I had to leave my family home after that, and I moved in with my boyfriend. We lived together for a while, in government housing – in Iran, judges are housed like this. Eventually, people found out about our relationship, and we were in danger.

Leaving Iran, but still not being safe

I managed to leave Iran, but I was trafficked to Turkey and held in a house for a while. I could not leave, and I was not safe. I do not know how long I was there. This experience means that sometimes I do not feel safe in houses. I struggle to trust people.

Getting to the UK and finding Micro Rainbow

I did manage to escape from this situation, and got to London, arriving in December 2022. I found Micro Rainbow and started going to events. The first event I attended was a dance event.  

Since then, I have been going to dance very regularly. Sometimes, in the day, I would have a bad situation or feel very bad. Then I would go to the dance session and I would forget everything about my day. I would feel better. It could completely change my mood.

Support and community

I find that dance helps me to forget my previous situation. It helps me to stop worrying about the things that have happened in my life. I also get to see other people like me. It helps to meet other people who are in the same situation (being an LGBTQI person seeking asylum).

I met so many friends through the body and movement programme. Not many Iranians – maybe only one other Iranian – but people from all over the world. Expressing myself through dance and movement has helped me to heal and communicate with other people. I was very closed off, but in the dance sessions I feel free and can open up.

Moving forward

The support I got from Micro Rainbow has helped me. In the UK it is very different from Iran. In Iran you are alone, people do not support you, we don’t think about other people. We don’t care about anyone. And here I have learned to think and care about other people again. Micro Rainbow has taught me to be kind and honest and more open. Through Micro Rainbow I have found a community.

The Body and Movement Programme

Body and movement offers an important space to help LGBTQI refugees and asylum seekers to overcome social exclusion, increase their confidence and fulfil their potential.

Do you have a social inclusion enquiry?


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