Monday, July 27, 2009

I`m gay

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.

8 comments:

  1. more articles like this one please

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  2. Thank you for pointing out that most Lebanese people have a distorted definition for the term: man/rejjel.

    Just because I'm homosexual doesn't make me less of a man than a heterosexual man.

    I have a respectable job.
    I help my parents out financially.
    I bring food to the table.
    I wash the dishes.
    I take out the trash.
    I don't let my laundry stink.

    And yet all of this won't mean anything to some people just because I am gay.

    All of this goes out the window because I like to date, sleep with, and love...men.

    I am NOT a man!

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  3. First of all let me start off by saying how SAD i am to still need to go ANONYMOUS when talking abt myself being Gay. I'm out to everyone who's a friend of mine but I don't want to risk a LOT to go out in public and out myself for my family yet..
    Anyway..

    I've dealt with the Lebanese way of thinking first hand. The bullying back at school was enough to harden my back bone and make me adapt for a life that was not really mine. Since those school days I had my mind set on one thing only: Living my life to the fullest and showing everyone who judges or stereotypes that I am more of a man than most of them talking trash about homosexuals.
    And I've done a stellar job so far. Just like BeirutBoy pointed out, I have an excellent and booming career, I live alone and take care of myself quite well, I do things that even men are afraid of doing.

    In our society, the "stereotypical gay" is the one people see on ignorant TV shows. Now I respect and LOVE the FABULOUS and MIGHTY STRONG fellow gays who cross-dress or go Transgender or are more on the feminine side - It takes a lot of guts to do that in our society - But this image is NOT what being gay is about!
    Unfortunately for us, ignorants rule the media and the hate and judgmental comments and reports we periodically see on TV just make me sick in the stomach.

    I blame all the reactions on the lack of education and the lack of understanding as to what being gay is really about:

    Yes, I love a nice hot man's ass! And be sure as hell that I enjoy Cock just as much as I enjoy chocolate! But that does NOT make me any less of a man!

    People need to educate themselves. People need to open up their eyes AND minds to the fact that some people are just different. But being different doesn't make us freaks. It doesn't make us a threat in any way.
    Hell, maybe all of the haters are dying to get a taste of my candy stick but are just too afraid to take the step!
    lol
    alright that was overboard... but still...
    Got my point?

    peace&love!

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  4. I loved this post ! I totally understand and i hope one day soon that coming out will be easier and safer. I accept anyone from my friends and family to be gay ... it is normal !

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  5. Great post.
    I must admit that the subject is something i am very passionate about.
    I am not gay myself (What is to be "gay" really? Shouldn't love be free, even of limiting words and terms?!) But i have many gay friends, great friends actually, people i deeply care about.
    I have seen all kinds of bad conditions they go through.
    A friend of mine has been beaten half to death for the soul reason that he is different, and left on the floor bleeding. He was seen as guilty of "loving" other men. Hatred and violence were the punishment of love.
    Another friend of mine lives his life in stress and fear. He cannot go out freely and attend gay places for fear of being seen. He lies to his family constantly. They are happily disillusioned when he talks about imagined women friends. That is all they want to know. In return, he is the one cracking under the pressure. Living a life of solitude, because he is neither able to go out with a man, nor can he get himself to lie to a girl. What kind of life is this?

    It's sad to see that we live in a society that would rather see men holding guns, then see them holding hands.
    As a human being, and as a single woman in this society, I would just like to add that what anybody does with their private parts is nobody's damn business!
    Freedom of sexuality is not a privilege, it's a right.

    I can go on forever. But i have to get back to work! My boss is not gonna be very happy if he catches me here! :D

    Good day!

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  6. awwal shi, ta7iyyete la Anonymous1, Anonymous2, w Beirut Boy: you guys rock my world.

    ok ok, so I am a genderqueer girl from Lebanon, not exactly the typical Gay Guy that you were addressing ya Lilo, and no I wasn't the typical queer lebanese person, only went to acid 3 times (once to distribute condoms, another time i got my chest grabbed by someone who wanted to check whether i'm a boy or a girl).

    So I am not sure i can tell much about the "Gay experience" in Lebanon. I did however talk to many people, shared some tears and lots of laughs with so many queeries over the past 5 years, to the point where i can't imagine my life without them anymore.

    For the most part being gay in Lebanon is not really a fun experience, but it socially brings about the dissolution of so many taboos and builds such bonds that i sincerely would never go back to who i was before that day when i read this: http://lebanonheartblogs.blogspot.com/2006/05/in-name-of-freedom.html
    Checked El-Fil's blog, reached helem's website and joined the online forum.

    For me I had an easy ride, few relationships, a lot of political discourse, writing, inventing, reinventing, a fair share of failures and a shitload of successes (hey I lived to attend the signing of two lgbt books in freaking Lebanon!).

    I am basically out to most people who would care to notice, all my bosses know I'm queer, I'm out on my blog, twitter, and everywhere else... I'm even out to my brother and father.

    My brother's coming out was a piece of cake, my father however, coming out to him was definitely the hardest thing i ever did in my life. In my head, I believed I had to do it, because I was always daddy's little girl and activism was forcing me to lie and hide shit from him. So I told him. He did not yell, he did not say anything hurtful, in fact, at first he didnt say anything, and he did say he will always be proud of me no matter what.

    But in fact, it was obvious that I hurt him in ways I can't describe, I can just say that I only saw my father this pale twice in my life, when his mother died and when my brother fell from his arms and they were rushing him to the hospital.

    Usually when I tell people of my coming out to my father they congratulate me for having such an amazing father, and it's true, my family is a privilege that I could never appreciate enough. But in my heart I wished he would have reacted negatively, I wished he hated me for what I am, because the obvious pain on his face killed me. I felt like I was an evil person, like I took away from him something that was very dear to me. And the fact that he acted so civilized left no space for debate, for actual intellectual and emotional communication.

    Needless to say, my father still doesn't talk about it (that was like 2 years ago or something) and I lived through enough experiences to totally regret telling both my father and my brother about it. I also lived long enough to be resentful of society, of the LGBT community, I lived to see 2 of my queer acquaintances overdose and just die, a bunch of people try to kill themselves (in one case the parents had disowned her and refused to even visit her in hospital), I also lived to visit a friend in jail, because her transgender status was "intriguing" police officers and they did not "get it". And guess what, I lived long enough to survive people trying to push me out of the queer activism scene in Lebanon.

    But when I think of these things I remember what my mom said once after telling me about horrifying things that happened to her:
    إي ما كانت هينة، بس بالنهاية بعدني هون. التجاريب بتجي وبتروح ونحنا منبقى هون

    W eh, c'est la vie :P

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  7. =) There really is nothing more than this that can be said. I do my best to make sure my brothers are aware that people are to be treated equally.

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  8. Ignorance. Unfortunately this is something that you can't change for now.

    Thank you for this post, it's good to see other people than gay bloggers talking about the subject! :-)

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