Friday, July 24, 2009

I'm gay

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.


  1. Indeed it is hard. It boils down to two ways: either you let people like you for who you are not, or let people dislike you for who you are. You gotta choose whichever makes you feel better.

    As for the Lebanese perspective on gays, I believe there should be more awareness and information about it because people are biased in their sub-conscious judgement. I mean people hate gays, but do they really know why they hate them? I don't think they do. They just hate without knowing why, and I guess this is a result of a lack of understanding and awareness towards gay people.

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  3. Great post.

    This is something I thought about very well for quite a while. The question of having a gay sibling, parent or child. After lots of questioning and pondering, I realized that I would be quite okay with it.

    However, when it comes to societies like ours, I don't advise a person who knows that their parents' reaction would be real bad to come out. I know this is very wrong of me to encourage having dual identities and living double lives and just being a hypocrite. This is how change is slowed down. I know all that. But at the same time, antagonizing one's community will not hasten change. It will hinder it. I think this kind of change happens at a slower pace and a larger stage. However, if one is prepared to lose one's community/family/parents, then definitely come out. But if one is not ready for such an undertaking both emotionally and fiscally, I think keeping a secret is very essential in this case.

    Thinking of how much this sucks, I am thankful I am straight and don't have to go through such a painful experience. I am also very proud that I am able to love and accept those who are homosexual. My children, should they be gay, will have no problem with me.

  4. i agree with poshlemon.
    i am gay myself, and will not come out to my parents. it's futile and useless and will only make things worse, knowing well in advance that my parent's reaction will be negative.
    it is a very difficult decision to take thought. a very very difficult one.
    it feels that you're cheating yourself and your folks at the same time, all the time.
    i live abroad, so it's easy for me to be who i am. but it's not that easy with lebanese abroad either.
    you'd think that they are better because of the accepting society they live in, but they are not.
    even here (USA), i have to chose who to tell and who not to tell amongst lebanese that is.
    my theory usually is: the hell with them. i don't need to talk/hangout with someone who is not accepting of me. but even that gets complicated sometimes. i have really good friends here who are lebanese and are great friends (true ones in time of need and all that bla bla) but who are opposed to homosexuality and will berate it. i've eventually come to the decision that that is not enough for me to stop talking to someone.
    i've decided to accept people who actively hate my type. i've decided that the good outweighs the bad.
    if only it where the other way too!

  5. That's like the best and deepest post I read here in I dunno how much time!

    I go with living a dual identity. Actually I believe in hiding whatever you want to do that your family can hinder. Guess what? I used to do this about meeting girls! It's funny how a society thinks having female friends is wrong and inappropriate and being gay is a psychological disorder.

  6. Fonzy ba3d men7ell mechklit l char2 el awssat w heyde ma bten7al in leb!!! eno let them accept civil marriage, sexual relationships before marriage and even sometimes going out with guys b4 accepting someone being gay.

    Ma in 2009 ba3d badna nsamme awal sabeh chafic aw afif aw boulos w aslan awal walad bado ykoun sabe, wel chab rejel bi7e2ello bikel chi wel benet ya weyla eza meskit id chab... I could go on forever with a lot of issues that we, lebanese, should accept, before accepting homosexuality!!

    I have 2 gay friends, one of them comes to paris every once in a while to run away from the frustration he's living in beirut and now he's immigrating to canada just so he can live peacefully his homosexuality and of course his parents don't have a clue!

    Our society is very judgemental and old fashionned but what can you do about it??? I thank god that I had the chance to live abroad, once you're watching from far away, u get to see the flaws more clearly and you get rid of all the "prejuges" while keeping the essence of your values but everyone doesn';t get the chance to do so.

    Now about living a dual identity why go far as in homosexuality, I could tell a lot of stories about all the lebanese living abroad and having a dual identity: one in the country where they're living and one when they come back home. Not necessarily in a bad way, but just in expressing their minds, their opinions in the subjects we call "tabous" in a twisted country and where it is totally normal and "le cours de la vie" in another country.

    Anyway, would I accept my child if he comes out gay? I don't know, but I will definitely not consider him as psychologically insane...

  7. Serpico, very true, you brought up a very good point, xenophobia, fear of what you don't know, people think gays are not human beings maybe. It's sad. How can you raise awareness though?

    Posh, exactly my take, I worried for his safety honestly, now we wait and see how things will evolve in my friend's case. Dual identity sucks, but what can you do if the people you love can't accept you the way you are and might end up hating you...

    BG, thanks a lot for your comment, your first time here :) I understand how complicated things can get, unfortunately even when you're abroad you still have to go through filtering who to tell and who not to, to hide as well, you would think when you're abroad you would at least have to freedom to be more comfortable.

    Marooned, that's sad, just when I think things are bad in Lebanon, you show me that in Egypt things are worse.. a girl and a guy can't be friends?

    Krys, homosexuality is definitely not on top of the list in this category, come to think about it, being gay, or being a little bit more open minded than others, having sex before marriage, concubinage all these issues pose a great problem in Lebanon, and many of us, whatever our case may be, don't feel ourselves in this country, and have to hide our lifestyle... ma3ik 7a2 :)

  8. I think your posts misses out a very important point.


    I have a BIG problem with those, yes if i could i will kill each and every one of those..

    I don't believe that homosexuality is born with a person rather than is acquired through some experience or accident that person lived.

    That is why i am homophobic, BUT i am learning to accept gay people who keep it to themselves, rather than trying to change into a female.

    And vice versa..

    Answering your question about my children, of course i won't accept it, and i will do my best to change it.. as i believe that homosexuality is viral; in other terms...It takes to know one to be one.

    There is a big debate about homosexuality and whether it is innate or acquired, i would love to read a post written by you,subjectively, about this topic.