I moved to Montreal and a whole new world opened up for me. It wasn’t like I hadn’t already had my share of fun in Beirut, it was just that now I could do it without having to look over my shoulder every two seconds.
Don’t get me wrong, Montreal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but I have to admit I did feel more secure with myself after I got here. I couldn’t wait to paint the town red. Now I’m going back to Lebanon for summer break after having heard about the Dekwaneh incident; and I’m thinking “What am I getting myself into?” I told my friends here about what had happened. They called me a warrior. I scoffed. Warrior? Do I have to be a warrior in order to survive the sexual-political minefield in Lebanon? Why am I even leaving? I could stay here and have the time of my life instead of waiting for a police raid every time I go to Bardo. But then I thought that with this mentality I’m making things worse than they already are. I shouldn’t be scared of the police, I shouldn’t be scared of the government. I shouldn’t be scared of an abstract policy penned during the French mandate. None of us should. We should continue being proud, and loud about it. The government doesn’t hate us, the government is afraid of us. We can’t let a scared little man stand in the way of the equality we deserve, an equality that’s been a long time coming. People like me shouldn’t have to escape to Montreal, or New York, or Paris, or London in order to be who they are, we should be able to do so in our own Motherland. I love Lebanon, I will never stop loving Lebanon, and that is why I want to help instigate change. They can raid our privacy, but they will never break our dignity, our community. They will only make us louder.
By Ralph Haddad