My tale begins with a story. I do not need a long time to tell but it surely took me a long time to choose which
incident I should talk about. I am inside a prison with high walls, transparent yet hard to crack walls like diamonds edges covered by lava that tear down anything on its way.
My life inside this society prison is limited, the sun does shine where i am nor does the moon rise for we lack freedom and love is forbidden. I would like to start my story from childhood. Childhood is like a correction facility; it has the innocent, the criminal, the thief, the opinionated and the critic of the government are all locked up in the same place before being transported to their individual cells. As a child, i am free-until my organs are fully mature that is. The first six years went by with lots of cries, yelling and milk!
I began my learning journey at home as well as school, yet life lessons were a lot faster to resonate with me. The first i learned was how to deal with my family. As a female living in male-dominated society, i felt as if were being chased by my family all the time because they think of me as rebel. This came along as i was forced to put on Hijab and quit school because education broadens my horizon and they might lose control over me- or so they thought. These restrictions that were imposed on me have made me feel stressed and contradictory to myself. Its like being wrapped by a barbed wire; the less you move the less pain you cause yourself yet you are left feeling anesthetized. I was hiding what i like and not protesting against what i don’t like because we are living in a society governed by religion and tribal laws. .
Despite how life has changed over time, the eastern man still has some of the things that he has inherited from his ancestors- they used to burry women underground, the modern eastern man buries them above ground. Not to mention how this eastern man would feel if i were gay! All of these factors drove me to keep my sexual identity hidden. The word "sex" is a forbidden word that we only use on our national identity card to set my body apart from other kids when i grow older. A body that i dont fully own because everything is controlled by my family- they choose what i do with it and their main concern is how do i make myself more like other girls.
I lived a simple life with my family in a poor neighborhood where neighbors came in and out of our house all the time. Boys had the streets to play and explore-we girls had our houses. We played, talked and did everything indoors.
I was four and a half when i found out that something about me is different from other girls.
That difference was not about appearance like many other gay girls feel by refusing to wear girly dresses and such.
It was very different with me, i was and still am very interested in my feminism. I sometimes feel that i exaggerate in my celebration of feminism. However, i tend to find myself closer to guys than girls... Even at work, i feel a lot happier and more comfortable when i know that the team i will be working with is mostly males because i feel like i can communicate with them better. I am not exaggerating if i told you that i have very few female friends and that i always feel like an outsider to the world of women. I dont know how to talk to girls and i cant get close to them while i have great guy friends.
At age four and half, and despite how i didnt like talking to girls including the many sisters that i shared the house with, there was one friend that i liked. I noticed that i sometimes would love to stare at her while she talks or plays. I watched silently as she went on with her life and it made me feel great for a reason i didnt understand. I started to get closer to her and i liked her even more- i grow up to understand that this was the first love. This friend of mine shared a lot of things with me including her love of being around guys more and how she stands up to those who bully little girls in our street- she was quite the feminist.
This feeling of rebellion and revolutionary spirt came to me when i got into school. When i was in second grade (7 years), i remember one incident when the teacher decided to punish those who failed the exam by repeatedly hitting with a wooden stick on their palms (a common punishment in schools). One girl has failed the exam and i remember the feeling that got over me when the teacher stroke his stick on her palms... I could not resist the feeling to protest. I yelled "stop" and i distinctly remember what he told me back then, "if you think that you are her lawyer and that you are a super hero, why dont you take her place?"... I didnt hesitate to do exactly that. I still recall how my parents did not believe my story until i showed them my paper and my high grade. Anyway, it was not only my rebel part that drove me to act and stand up for her, i later knew that it was my love for her which i then discovered during the summer holiday when i didnt see her for a long time. Alas, it was a love from one side as they say.
After that, i went through different experiences; some were good, other not so much.... My main difference during all of that was my leaning towards guys' stuff.
By the time i was 17, i have had quite a few experiences. i exchanged feelings, wrote letters and lived short love stories that soon run away like a hungry horse that has not eaten after a long race and saw a pile of hay far away so it run away towards it with all its speed. By then, most of the guys where i lived were trying to get closer to me- walking behind me whenever i leave my house or citing romantic poems. All of their attempts faded into the air because i was looking for something else. We have moved into a nicer house yet it felt empty and lonely because i didnt know any girl there and our neighbors were not big on socializing. My family's grow stronger which forced me into agreeing to what they ask for in words yet my heart tells me otherwise. Yet i was the same old rebel from inside and whenever i was left alone with my thoughts. But that was not successful for long.
Suspicion about my sexual orientation begun to rise among my family, so they did what their littler minds thought was best- marrying me off. I was shocked to see bunch on women all in black visiting us- they will be my future family in-law. All what i was thinking about is how will be sharing a life with a man and i dont like men. I still remember that wedding night. He was taking off his clothes and just stood terrified im the corner looking at his as if he is a butcher getting ready to kill his sheep. I have not seen a man's body before-only kids. A new struggle begun that night, struggle between me being rapped by my husband and ending with him hitting me because i dont like to be with him. It was not too long before he decided to send me back to my parents’ home along with my divorce papers. Despite all the pain he caused, I knew how to drive him to hate and it gave a sense of accomplishment and victory. My family's suspicions were back now that i am at their house divorced.
I was back to the old chains. My parents pushed me to leave school again but I managed to convince them to let me finish high school and go to college. All the beautiful girls in college overwhelmed my feelings and I could not hide my homosexual feelings anymore. I got into a relationship with one of my friends- college was freer than anything outside its campus but even then, we could not be ourselves completely and we were asked to sit in front of an investigating committee for allegations of homosexual behaviors in the girls’ bathrooms. I did not care much about that committee or anything else for that matter. I could not keep my eyes from looking at beautiful girls and it got a point where even family members would make comments about it. A family member called me “Sohaqiya” or “Lesbian” once.
I did not care about the investigating committees because they don’t have any solid evidence and they don’t want to risk expelling girls for homosexual behavior because it could influence the school’s reputation.
I finished college, got a job and changed my residence. I moved around between my brother’s houses for a while until I went back to living with my parents- I moved around because I was stuburn and got into problems because of that. At work, I met a guy whom I felt that I share so much with- I shared a lot of my his manly interests so to speak. I accepted his friendship and we became very close but I never felt comfortable enough to tell him that I like girls. He, on the other hand, was very open about his feelings- he even told me about all his relationships with other girls. I envied him for the freedom he has and I will never have. My options were limited. One time over lunch, the organization I worked for hosted a lunch for many people. While we were sitting together, a beautiful girl walked by, we shared the same look towards her. He turned towards me and asked me what I think about her.
"She is beautiful, like a blooming flower full with nectar. Anybody will be lucky to have her." I replied.
I talked to him and my eyes and heart were thrusting for her for I have not been with someone in quite a while and she is my type exactly. My friend looked at me in silence for a minute and then said:
“I know you are gay but you are eating her alive with your eyes- people will suspect.”
He said those words and went back to eating his lunch. He could not keep it for long; he broke into a hysterical laugh. I blushed and was not sure what to do- he laughed so loud that the 20-something girl I liked started looking at us.
After few minutes, he stopped laughing and apologized to me and said that he did not mean to insult me but my face reminded him of his teen years when he would blush when looking at beautiful girls. Ever since that day, I started telling about my feelings towards girls- including some who were co-workers. After few months of that incident, he asked to marry me. I had to remind him of my sexual orientation but he promised me that it would be a fake wedding. A wedding that will shut up both of our families and will allow us to live our lives normally. He was divorced and his family were constantly pushing him to re-marry. We promised to live a normal life inside the privacy of our home.
I asked for some time to think. I soon realized that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity so I said yes. Time have pass and we are keeping that promise. We each have his own lover. I know now that my family have stopped chasing me because, to them, I am married. Social norms, tribal traditions, militias, religious institutions are still haunting me though…. Women also haunt me with their condescending looks.
The past may very well be harsh, but we can work to the make the future better for queers. We should not be ashamed of who we are because nothing is worth doing that.
I was born a lesbian, accept or reject me, but eventually you will have to admit that I exist.