Bear with me reader, please, till the end.
I was a shy, lonely kid.
Basically, I learned to shut my mouth and pretend I wasn’t bullied; to stay silent through and through. Maybe, if I laughed at the appropriate time (at myself, that is.), I thought that I can avoid any more hassle. Of course that didn’t work. That just gave them the green light to walk all over me. Maybe, to them, if ten people ganged up on one kid, it would make them men; I don’t know.
I desperately wanted to change; I wanted to be wholly different. Everyone around me, including my best friends, told me I act more like a woman than a man, and that it’s no wonder that I get bullied by adults as well as schoolmates. What’s sad there is that I stuck around with these ‘best friends’ for quite some time.
I learned to hate myself. Maybe we’ve all been there; maybe we all at some point hated ourselves, but I can’t help to think that this is somewhat different. I hated how my voice sounded, how it couldn’t reflect the ‘macho’ boy that I look like at first. I hated how I acted- how it reminds guys too much of girls. I learned to alienate myself and never interfere in a group conversation when people I don’t know are around, lest they as well think less of me.
Needless to say, I was Gay-bashed.
In gist, homophobia is the most destructive, unnatural, appalling act anyone can commit. It’s equal to murder in my book, but somewhat more abominable, since it leaves the victim alive yet hollow and empty, wallowing in self-pity and hatred.
It’s ok, I thought. I’m sure I’ll get to know other people ‘like me’ online, and then I can be happy!
Of course, I was so wrong.
It was enough that I possibly felt saved by the few gems that I met– people who are so valuable to me that I, to this day, still believe that they saved me from certain suicide attempts.
The feeling was surreal. I felt a connection unlike any that I have previously felt before. They say you can’t pick your family, but I could.
What came next was, of course, romance. After quite a few years of unfounded crushes and loves-at-first-sight I started dating. The rush that I felt when I first saw my dates, and when I first held their hands, proved to me once and for all who I am, a gay man in a destructively homophobic atmosphere.
Let’s call this next part the fall of Queen Zanoubia.
Dad, you found out.
I won’t go into detail about the invasion of privacy, about the betrayal of trust; but what I will say is that it was gruesomely meticulous. Over the course of my ‘journey of self-discovery’, everything I did and everyone I talked to was uncovered.
My quick fling was doomed to end right now. I was ordered to break off all ties to my friends, who according to Dad corrupted me. Those ‘Mrettin’ (corrupt) individuals saved my life…
I couldn’t leave my house. I was ordered to stay where I am under strict parental observation. Everyone I used to talk to I had to tell, while someone was more or less watching over my shoulder, that I had to break off all ties to them and this ‘corrupt community’. I had to obey the laws of disgusting disgruntled old men who lived in the middle ages. I had to listen to while I was told how unnatural and abhorrent I was, how God frowns upon my actions, how I could be saved.
I don’t doubt that each and every one of us experienced this. I have no doubt that through our mutual suffering, whoever you are, you and I are connected. Our connection transcends the disapproval of our parents and the discrimination done by our homeland. Whoever you are, boy, girl, or in between, know that I value you as part of my family.
Reader, this is my story; Homophobia has tried to destroy me (and possibly you too) at every corner, it is the single most unnatural act that any being can commit. Homophobia has destroyed families, lives, and even whole communities. I dare not tell you my real name, but what I can say is that you and I can join our strength together and destroy that inhumane idea that is homophobia.
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Tobje: Derogatory term for ‘gay man’ in Lebanese
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