I wrote the below post on another blog, but I am going to post it here where a wider audience is more reachable. I would love to hear your take on the subject.
If you're Lebanese and you're gay, what do you do? (I will focus on males in this post)
On a Sunday afternoon 5 years ago, my friends, a guy and a girl, and myself got together in a coffee shop to catch up on each others' news. We went to the same faculty, we were, a biologist, a physicist, and a computer science geek (yours truly). We had graduated a year earlier. After talking about here and there, new car, new job, new degree, old friends, who are we seeing, who aren't we seeing, who traveled and who stayed, my friend suddenly blurts out that's he's a bisexual. I hadn't seen him go out with any girl all our college years, it wasn't a complete surprise for us, my friend and I being the (sort of) nonjudgmental persons, and the sort of people who don't want to appear as judgmental and non-supportive and close-minded, we made it easy on him, we loved him, he was our friend, that was his choice, so be it. He told us he went out with guys and the whole story. He said bisexual, but in reality he meant homosexual, he thought that probably saying bisexual is easier to the ear, and I think he might be right in general.
Back then being gay meant getting beat up, getting dissed, being offended, and it sort of still like that now, but more tolerated in certain cases.
Back then in our society, gays did not present themselves as gays, they either went out with a girl or even got married and had children, in order to hide who they really are (that still happens of course).
Back then I couldn't tell a gay guy from a straight guy, I think most of us Lebanese didn't have this knowledge. Now? It's very different.
How unhappy were they? How unhappy are they still? Hiding the fact that you like to be single till you're 35-36 is a hard fact to tell your surrounding and makes you feel like you're carrying a lie that weighs a ton, how about tell them you fancy the same sex as yours?
The most recent story, is an acquaintance of mine, who left to another country to study, but am sure that wasn't his main reason. He's gay abroad, and straight over here. Can you imagine the lie he lives in? The truth he has to hide when he's back here. The most recent time he came to Lebanon, he decided to come out to his folks, I personally thought that was not the right choice, because I worried for his well-being. He's the eldest and his dad will not look at him as someone being normal who's only living a different life than
the conventional one. For him he's his eldest son, who will bare his name, who will have children of his own that will bare their grandfather's name, who will continue with the family chain of members and a whole new generation. That is what his father will think. What will his neighbors think? He was not man enough to raise his son to be a man? Yes, unfortunately, people here think that being a gay man, makes you less of a man. Oh how much of a wrong definition do we have for the word "being a man", the Lebanese equivalent is "rijjel", with an emphasis on the double J.
The father was also abroad, he works abroad to provide better for his resident family. He came back for a week only, intersecting with his son's visit as well. He was mad at his son and barely talking to him. My friend asked his dad:
"Are we going to talk about what is it that is making you give me the silent treatment?"
The father replies: "I've heard stories about you going the wrong way in --country's name--."
The son: "That's not a wrong way, that's my choice!"
His dad: "I think you should see a doctor, a psychiatrist or something like that. He will help you."
I will stop here, I'm sure you know by now how the conversation went. I understand it's no easy thing to admit such a fact, I wouldn't want to be in my friend's shoes, I am even scared to tell my dad I don't want to move to the US and that's nothing compared to his story. And definitely it's no easy thing for the parents either. And I honestly always prepare myself in case I ever have a child, and he/she turns out to be gay, how will I take it? I accept my friends being gay, but can I accept my children being gay? I'd hate to have double standards. But I know how hard it is for someone to be someone he's not, to have to hide his own true self to the people they love and known all their life. It's a damn hard situation.