(Editor’s note: The Washington Blade granted anonymity to the author due to personal safety concerns.)
Living in fear, in fear of being outed, in fear of being kicked out of your house, in fear of being fired from your job, in fear of being jailed, in fear of being denied by your parents, in fear of being killed — killed by your own family. This is what life is for a gay man in Lebanon. And despite all of that, I decided to hang on, I went to school, handled all the bullying from my colleagues, crying every night before going to sleep.
Those were the first 17 years of my life until I graduated from school and went to the university. Seventeen years that most of the people my age wish they could bring back, while I wish to erase them from my memory.
At university, the situation was a little bit different and more acceptable since it was an American-system institution. After four years of study at college, I graduated and the road to real life began. It was at the time that I accepted my sexuality and understood that it is part of me, something to be grateful for, my identity, the source of love and attraction in my life. But unfortunately I was unable to share this truth with “almost” anyone else. I understood and loved myself but was never able to extend this feeling to someone else.
You could say that the most important thing is to first love and understand yourself, and this could be enough. But it is not the case where I live. Imagine hearing your father say: “If I had a gay son, I would kill him with my own hands.” Or hearing your mother say: “I would shoot my kids if I knew someone is gay.”
Imagine going everyday to work and hearing conversations about how your colleagues are unable to understand how “two men or two women can love each other” or “how do they fuck each other and how disgusting such an act could be” and how “we can never have friends that are sick like that.” Imagine hearing the only friend that you have and the only person that you came out to say, “I don’t support killing gays but I think those people should be put on an island by themselves and separated from other humans.” Imagine that you came out to a person that you trusted and it turned out he’s not a real friend, and now you are obliged to cater to his needs continuously, with no objection, just to protect yourself from being outed to your colleagues, and most importantly, to your family, and consequently being killed.
How does it feel?
Sometimes I think that I’m unworthy of living, that it would be better for me to die, to kill myself with my own hands. When I look around me, and see that the priests and religious people who preach about love and tolerance are the ones that incite hatred against us, when I see that the whole government is standing against us, when I see that our teachers are our enemies, when I see that my colleagues at work reject us, when I see that my own family, from flesh and blood, is ready to kill me if they knew about my “feelings,” about my “heart,” I ask myself why is my life still worth living?
But I go back and think again. I watch the world. I see that in the most powerful country in the world, people like me are able to get married. I see that in almost all the developed countries of the world, people like me are successful, are able to love and be loved, are amazing and unique. I watch the CEOs of the biggest companies, the brave and courageous journalists of the biggest media chains — they have the same feelings and the same heart as I and they are amazing.
It’s when I see those people that I feel that I have a small hope of breaking out of the jail where I’m living and find freedom and happiness in my life. Although I keep it all for myself, but this is the way that I learned that I am normal, I am lovable, and I CAN be FREE.
It makes me sad that I am writing in an anonymous identity just to protect myself from harm because of my dangerous environment. But trust me, if I was safe, and if I was living in any country where my rights would be protected, I would scream out loud that I am extremely proud of my feelings with which I was born. To all the LGBT people who are living in fear in countries where they may get killed or harmed, or bullied, maybe you are unable to come out to anyone just like me, but please do not hate yourself as they want you to do. You have to know and understand that you should be proud of yourselves. Those who are standing against you are the corrupted, the evil, and the unmerciful. Do not slide down to their level.
And let’s hope together that someday it will get better and we will be able to live our lives freely, to contribute to our society, be rewarded and treated fairly from our governments, and above all, find the love of our life and live it fully as we dream.