My path towards self-acceptance was not easy. As I look back, I realize that I overcame many obstacles, fought and conquered many inner demons but I also realize that I still have more bridges to cross and victories to win. It’s a never ending journey.
Although each paints his/her own unique path, thousands, probably millions share my story. It is always comforting to know that, as no one likes to be left all alone in this fight.
I won’t bore you with all the details of my life, but will share with you the highlights of my journey to accept what probably shaped my personality the most: the realization that I’m a homosexual.
I was probably 13/14 years when I became aware I wasn’t like other boys my age. There was something different about me. I began to get attracted to other boys, and even more to men.
Oh heavens, what is wrong with me? Could I be gay? It’s not possible! It’s not acceptable! It can’t be! This was my state of mind at that time. I began to look for answers, I grabbed books and encyclopedias at my disposal (yeah I am older than Wikipedia and the Internet revolution!) and looked for related articles and began to read and read and read.
Although the reading helped me in becoming a bit more insightful, but it didn’t help me with my shame, fear, and guilt feelings. I was borderline paranoid that someone might discover my big, fact, juicy secret.
I was mentally burdened almost all the time. My mind was constantly thinking, and I was going through it all by myself. I was crying on the inside, but would never allow anyone to notice, especially my family.
At a time when I should have been having a blast, enjoying my time and mingling with my peers, I was distancing myself from everyone, almost.
Misfit, that’s how I saw myself. I didn’t belong anywhere and never felt to be part of a group. Life was difficult, a hardship, and it was not worth living. All of a sudden suicidal thoughts didn’t seem so bad. Luckily, this phase didn’t last forever.
Needless to say how shitty high school was for me. I hated it! I wasn’t in a mixed school and though for a gay guy this should be a positive thing, it wasn’t. Teenagers really lack empathy and expect you to act or to behave in a certain way in order to accept you. Obviously, I didn’t, as such I was never popular; in fact I was an outcast at best.
By that time I had very little gay experiences and the ones that I had were awkward and more experimental than anything else.
Then came University. By that time, the internet was becoming more and more mainstream. People were putting its mighty power to good use: to hook up! I was no exception.
There was a site called GayLebanon (or something of that sort, I am not really sure) and it had a chat room. So I decided to try. I chose a username, logged in to the chat room, not really expecting what was going to happen. All of sudden someone said:
Hi (yi chou chiftilo yeha kbire!)
Hi, Ya ahla, I replied.
T or B? He asked.
To be or not be you mean? Damn, gays debate Shakespeare in chat rooms?! I wondered.
Top or bottom? He asked again.
Ha?? Say whaaaat??
I was honestly lost in the gay technical lingo.
After a few failed initial trials, things got better with time and I managed to meet with some guys. Although these meetings were spaced in time and irrespective of the sex part (which was not a given anyways), they gave me the chance to unburden and meet people who share many of my fears and concerns. This fact by itself made me want to meet other guys and to hope to become friends with some of them but this never materialized.
As I started to meet more guys, I started to become more comfortable with my homosexuality. Nevertheless, the fear, the shame and the guilt feelings did not dissipate easily; they lingered.
I started to reconcile with my homosexuality when I had my first gay friends with whom I shared quality time. Even with these initial gay friends the bulk of my social life was with my straight friends. My gay friends were relegated to second ranks. They were part of my underground life.
Great as they are/were, I felt something missing whenever I was with my straight friends from work or university. Perhaps this was the missing link, I thought. If I really needed to feel comfortable in my own skin I should build long lasting friendship with gays, and furthermore down the road dare to open up to few select straight people.
Luckily, I managed to come across quality people that I am proud to consider as friends.
With my closest gay friends, I shared (and still share) quality time, going out and about in the lovely Beirut city and together we enjoyed the limited outlets it gives to its LGBT community. But more importantly, with them I got intimate on a deeper emotional level, something which I had never done before. This alone allowed to see clear into my soul and to realize that I was being hard on myself, missing on a lot of what makes life enjoyable and imagining a world that doesn’t exist instead of enjoying life as it is, with its highs and lows.
Through these friends, I got acquainted with wonderful straight people that are supportive of gays and their rights.
I am getting closer to where I want to be. As I look back, I realize how far I travelled. Self-hate and sleepless nights are a distant memory. I grew in confidence and self-esteem, but it’s not over yet. I still have some obstacles to cross, most importantly to come out to my parents. It’s daunting to even think about it, but it should be done sooner or later.
At the end, no matter how hard you try; if you are not happy with yourself your smiles and laughs won’t be sincere. You will be constantly bored, angry, restless, never satisfied, and ultimately sad. Look deep into your heart, search ever corner of your soul and you will realize how worthy of love and happiness you are. I know it’s easier said than done, but make sure to try.
Always keep in mind that if others are willing to accept and love you, why can’t you do the same?
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