Over the past 20 days you have read stories of love and courage, resilience and survival, muted voices that were given an online forum to speak out loud and they gratefully did. Now it is time to hear from us. Here is what each member of this coalition of Lebanese LGBT bloggers had to say:
Thank you homophobes.
With each slap in the face. With each kick in the gut. With each “Ya foufou”, I’m getting stronger.
Three years ago, I didn’t have the courage to attend the IDAHO event. I was afraid of someone finding out that I was gay. So many things have changed since then. I’m more comfortable in my skin. I have loving and supporting friends who are straight and gay. I’m braver.
Your ignorance was one of the main reasons I started a blog. So thank you.
Today we celebrate the strength that comes out of your bullying, your discrimination, and your ignorance.
The commentaries I often hear are something I got used to, things like people saying “ever since I found out Elton is gay I stopped liking him” and “I’d rather have my son die than be gay.” After a while I learned to ignore but I believe forgive but don’t forget is the right expression for it. I know someday I’ll be part of the people they don’t want to talk to, or hate, or whisper behind their backs and a few years ago I did care about that, now let the world burn and I will keep on walking, I’m happy with myself, my sexuality and my life, I will marry the woman I love and people will have to get over it eventually, because if I lie, hide, or get scared, it will only be me who regrets it. But the fight against homophobia is important for me for many reasons, one of them is the lack of education behind it and the other is the lack of freedom we have due to such awful education. We’re suppose to suppress in order to live our lives without fear, and in no way that’s fair for anyone, gay or straight.
Dear Lebanese Sir,
You say I am plagued with a disease even though I might be your saviour doctor. You say I am a sexual addict even though I might be your celibate priest. You say I am a psychopath even though I might be your favourite TV presenter. You call me a pervert while you cheer and vote for all war criminals. You say you will spit in my face and dissociate from me, did you know I might be your son? Your prejudice forces people like me to marry a woman, who might happen to be your beloved daughter.
Homophobia is a social disease, it does not only harm homosexuals.
تقول/ي لي: “إذا ابتليتم بالمعاصي فاستتروا” لكن أي معصية تقصد/ي. تقول/ي انني مريض على الرغم من انني قد أكون طبيبك المنقذ. تقول/ي لي انني مدمن الجنس على الرغم من انني قد اكون كاهنك المفضل الوقور. تقول/ي لي انني مختل عقلياً على الرغم من أنني قد أكون محللك السياسي المفضل. تقول/ي انني منحرف و خطر على المجتمع وأنت تهتف/ي لمجرمي حرب. تقول/ي إذا عرفتني سوف تبصق/ي في وجهي، هل تعلم/ي أنني قد أكون ابنك؟ رهاب المثلية يدفع بشاب مثلي أن يتزوج من امرأة، هل فكرت/ي يوماً أن هذه المرأة قد تكون ابنتك الحبيبة.
رهاب المثلية مرض اجتماعي، لا يؤذي فقط المثليون والمثليات.
A taboo subject. Here in Lebanon, that is how we define homosexuality. It is indeed, almost impossible to talk about it. No wonder you are stuck with these old hateful ideas about gay people.
“Lezim nekhod w na3teh” (Give & take). That’s what you all ask from us.
But, when refusing to hear out what we have to say, you’re doing the exact opposite.
So get out of your homophobic shell and look for yourself, educate yourself.
We are human, we are normal. Accept us as we are, cause we are not going to change. Your harassing will not make us leave. You cannot pray, punch or bully the gay out of us. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, prouder. We are fighting & we are not ready to lose.
– Karim N.
We all wear masks for different reasons.
I wear one because I live in a society where being gay is strongly condemned.
While there are messages all around me telling me to be myself and true to my heart, I know this is impossible in Lebanon.
It’s not safe for me here.
I can’t live the life I want.
I can’t express myself, out loud.
Unlike my friends, I can’t date anyone I want and what’s worse is that I don’t know people I can actually relate to.
Every day at school, I have to get through the most hateful comments and actions.
I crack because of all that bashing.
It’s a punishment I don’t deserve.
People don’t want to believe homosexuality exists and they attack me from everywhere.
They think I’m weak, sick and evil.
They want me to self-destruct and become someone else.
But they must know they are not going to stop me, they just can’t because there’s this secret weapon which I use in my defense: hope.
Some boys don’t dance to the beat of the track. I’m one of them. In Lebanon, people tend to think I’m a mess. So I dance in the dark, and when they’re looking I don’t fall apart, knowing that it’s going to be okay to just dance soon enough, in liberal Boston, without that poker face. I’m not going to be speechless. I’m not going to let my love be a brick used to sink me. I’m going to build a house, a future. Lebanon, you know that I love you. Family, you know that I need you, but I want it bad. I want that bad romance. How does homophobia in Lebanon affect me? It makes me want to leave and not look back, like so many others here, and I’m not proud of it.
Gay in Beirut:
That’s the number I came up with when I sat down to evaluate what it has cost me, to come of age in so-so (oh so?) homophobic Lebanon.
Three long years it seemed, when I was able to compare notes with the new friends I made abroad – Where I stood in my coming out and how far along with self acceptance. I first said the words ‘I’m gay’ in my twenties, but it later felt like I could have done it in my teens.
Three short years, however, now that it feels I’m on the right track to self accomplishment doing my thing my way in my country. To be able to leverage what Lebanon has to offer, from spirit to culture, without a penalty from society’s judgment or punishment.
Three extra years. Quite an expensive price to pay. Where would I be now without them? I’ll probably never know. Maybe slower was for the better. Oh well. They’re behind me now…