As an Iraqi, you would probably say that you have not heard about this day or you have, but can’t celebrate it in any way. Not at your house with your family, with your friends and girlfriend, or even in the street with strangers. Still, IraQueer works to change things so that Iraq will be safer for the LGBT+ community and Iraqis will be more supportive of the LGBT+ community. Until that day comes, IraQueer wants you to know that you, as a lesbian individual, are strong, valid, and important to us. Be proud of yourself for surviving your days without the support you deserve. Remember that good things happen as we believe they are possible so stay strong and proud of who you are.
On this special day, we want to tell the love stories of lesbian ladies who have been struggling just like you and so many others in different cities of Iraq. Sara, who is a 28-year-old lesbian from Basra, talks about both the love and fear she is experiencing with her girlfriend. She says, “I met my girlfriend two years ago on a dating app." She explains the difficulty of being a woman and a lesbian in a city like Basra. She says, “We do not have the opportunity to express either one of our identities. Because of that, I never thought I would ever meet someone who will know about both of my identities, accept them, and even love me because of them.” Sara mentions that being around her girlfriend gives her peace and joy but at the same, there is always that fear of her family or her girlfriend’s family. That fear if someone catches them kissing or knows that they are more than friends. The fear of them getting killed or never getting the chance to see each other again. As girls in Basra, they are not allowed to spend so much time in the streets or cafes so they tend to visit each other a lot. That is where they get the chance to watch movies or talk about music, poetry, and love.
Khawla says that she had to go through a painful divorce experience before she got the chance to understand her sexuality and who she really is. She says, “After six years of being married to my cousin, I got divorced. Arranged marriages are very common in Karbala where I am from. A 30 year old girl who is not married is not acceptable. In families like mine, girls are supposed to get married at a certain age, perform their marital duties, give birth to babies, raise their children, stay at home, and be good wives.” After her divorce, Khawla isolated herself from her family and everyone else. That was the time when she started questioning her sexuality and realized that she was not straight. When she met her neighbor, she immediately feel in love with her. They both had feelings for each other so they kept meeting and talking about their lives and sharing personal details. Their families did not suspect anything because their mothers were friends and the visits between the two families were so easy to happen. Khawla did not have the courage to express her feelings at first but as they got closer she decided to take that step. “One day, we were laying on her bed, listening to Shireen’s song “Enkatabli Omr”, our hands started touching. We were talking about love, then we had our first kiss. It was the first time in my life that I feel afraid and safe at the same time. Since then, we have been together.”
These two stories are an example of hundreds of other similar stories. As a lesbian girl, keep in mind that you are not fighting alone and that things could get better someday. As long as you have the choice to decide, never let others decide for you and keep in mind that it is absolutely fine to be lost for a while. Be hopeful that a better phase might come as you get to a point where you are sure about your sexuality and identity. Last but not least, remember that being a lesbian is not a deterrent for finding love. There are a lot of lesbians around you who are too afraid to show it. Just look closely around you and you might find your love and second half. On this day, IraQueer wants you to know that you are heard and seen. So never hesitate to contact us if you ever felt the need for an advice or support.