To Be Who I Am

January 2, 2012

By H.

Who am I?

Because of a deeply guarded secret that I only recently came to terms with myself, I had never been able to define who I am.

Let me tell you a little bit about me. I am a 20-something-year-old male who grew up  in the affluent part of Amman. My parents are loving, kind hearted individuals who work tirelessly to provide for their children. Both my parents are Muslim. They are not particularly observant Muslims; they drink and serve alcohol at dinner parties, my mother is not veiled, and they scantily pray. But, as most families in our society do, we observe Ramadan and live by a rather strict set of morals.

Generally speaking, I have the freedom to do just about anything I want. I don’t have a curfew, have been given a Mercedes to drive and a credit card to use, one with a rather substantial limit, and as does just about everyone I know in my social circle, I study abroad. The only “rules” I have to live by are the following:

  1. Do well at school, and make your parents proud,
  2. Don’t break any laws,
  3. Never do drugs,
  4. Don’t sleep around,
  5. And, don’t excessively over-spend.

So, what is the big deal? What secret am I holding? Why am I being a drama–queen?

For the Jordanians reading this, the answer is quite simple; I am gay.

By this point, I expect that many will have stopped reading, and others will have become instantly revolted by my confession.

So, like I said; what is the big deal? I’m obviously living a charming life, and my parents are evidently open-minded and will have no problem accepting me for who I am. This is where you go wrong. I live in a very homophobic world. One in which, if I were to come out, I could potentially be killed, and where my killer would be hailed a hero who rid our just and righteous society of what obviously was the devil’s spawn.

I first became confused about my orientation when my friends first discovered porn. By the time I was in the 8th grade, I had known deep, deep down that I was gay. But I desperately didn’t want to be. I didn’t fit the profile. I’m not flashy, or camp or feminine. I love my guy best friends, like brothers, I play FIFA, listen to Kanye West and Usher, and have never ever found Madonna or Britney songs appealing or entertaining. So, I took to the Internet. I had my own laptop, and had taken the privacy and trust my parents had given me for granted. I was uninformed and thought that I could “cure” myself of my homosexuality. I would dedicate an hour a day trying to find places online that cured homosexuality, and tried to plan my life according to treatment courses. Since none were to be found in Amman, I had decided that my first few months of college would be spent trying to rid myself of this horrible curse. This went on for months on end. Until one day, I come home from school to find my mother waiting for me in my room. She had checked my browser history and confronted me by asking me why I had visited these sites, and demanded to know what I had to say for myself. I immediately froze, as she screamed, “you cant be gay because there is no such thing as being gay – these people are spoiled and will all go to hell and burn for all eternity”, “are you telling me you decided to be gay?”

After all her screaming, I told her I was definitely not, and that I though gays were ill and disgusting. She then proceeded to ask me why I had opened these sites, and I told her that a friend from school had sent them to me by email. She asked for a name, and I gave her one as asked (from that day forward, I was banned from seeing, talking or even looking at my friend who I had said had sent me these websites). The following day, I had thought that everything had passed, when my father asked me to join him in his study. This was quite frightening, since I had known my father to be a very serious man, and if he asked to speak with someone in private, whether it be a business partner, employee or an older sibling, it would usually end in screams and, in the case of employees, it would usually end in them being fired.

As I entered his study, he started to scold me about what I had done. Never will I forget this conversation, it plays in my head every now and then, it goes something like this:

Father: No son of mine is gay.
Me: Yes, that’s right, because I’m not!
Father: Good. Because if you were, you would leave my house, never to return.
Me: Uh – huh
Father: Do you know why? Because I cant have a “gay” live under the same roof as your siblings. I do not want them poisoned from a perverted piece of sh*t.
Me: Yes of course, I completely agree, I told you, X sent me these sites! I am not gay! And I am so, so sorry to have disappointed you.
Father: Good. Now get out. Go to your room – study.

That was the day I decided to remain closeted forever.

However, as time goes by, it becomes harder and harder for me to keep this secret. I have so far only come out to one dear, dear friend, who has since stood by me.

For the longest time, I assumed that my parents would help find me a decent girl to wed; we would share a good life together and have a few children. But no, not anymore. I have my own dreams to fulfill now; I want to be happy in life. I want to be able to share my successes and failures with a person I truly love. Which is why I have finally decided, that I will not eventually return to a place I had always called home, Amman, I will instead lead a productive fulfilling life with a partner I choose, I will no longer pity myself and accept that things just are, I will enjoy my life. All the while, having some awesome friends by my side.

Dr Seuss says, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

How I wish his words were true.