Speaking Out

One

Over the past few decades, an important movement has erupted from within the global community. The objective is to eradicate hate and to protect the right to love whomever we chose. This is the objective of the LGBTQ+ organization. Though the group is often portrayed as wanting to corrupt the minds of youth or propagate sin, the movement only assures everyone is guaranteed basic human rights.

My first experience with the LGBTQ+ community started at the tender age of twelve. I vividly remember, like any other kid, scrolling down my Facebook feed and seeing one post: one video that would change it all for me.

It was a FCKH8 video, and while I admit I initially thought that a few cursing kids was funny, I quickly understood what the video was really about.

Same-gender relationships seemed very strange to me at the time, but in the loveliest of ways. It really opened my eyes and showed me how confined I was.

As I began to let it really sink in and learned more about the movement, I realized how hateful people were towards the LGBTQ+ community and the utter torment and agony that this community’s members go through. The oppression, the bullying, the abuse, the sneers, the judgment, the hate, the pain, the forever-growing suicide rate, the doubt, the lack of acceptance and awareness, the ignorance…

I’ve heard that the true meaning of ignorance is to refuse what you have no knowledge of. I believe this is the main reason so many act so hostile and violent towards us, members of the LGBTQ+ community. The mere thought of other sexualities existing repels them, which I find mind-boggling. I believe what is really deplorable is how complacent we’ve become with the violence, with some of us even rejoicing at the sight of seeing a queer kid getting beat up because of their sexuality. Why do you have a problem with other people’s happiness?

I am sorry to report this, but unfortunately, there is not a guaranteed solution to this ignorance. If there is anything that can be done to mitigate the hate, it will come from education. After all, no prosperous nation has ever been built on a foundation of ignorance. And this education should start with spurring apathy into action.

We are all tired of watching professional inciters being outraged until payday, and then quietly disappearing. We have to make sure the few sympathizers we have with the LGBTQ+ community in the Arab world being to aid in the acceptance of those society has outlawed.

If there is anything that we, not just as a community but as humans will continuously long for, it’s acceptance. Let’s face it: We all want to feel accepted by our peers, to be regarded as someone of value. That right there is what we as a community want; that’s our goal: to be regarded as equal; to no longer have to hide our natural emotions; to no longer be ashamed of ourselves; to help one another; to have no sense of fear of consequence of whom we choose to love. Unfortunately, this is difficult to do in a conservative Muslim country where much of our fear is propagated by ignorance.

I believe that one of Islam values diversity. I also believe Islam prohibits forced religiosity. Yet many of us chose to reject that principle.

Despite being Muslim, I am a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and that does not make me divergent, nor does it weaken my faith. I also believe it’s bigotry to attempt to rank and categorize faith. Faith has no ranks; thus I solemnly refuse to be judged by empty-headed dogmatic people. After all it is judgment that defeats us all.

I relate to the LGBTQ+ community because I am asexual.

I think it’s rather difficult to explain asexuality to unaware people. Lack of awareness usually leads to lack of acceptance.

To be perfectly candid, I still struggle trying to explain how it feels to be asexual. Whether it’s the lack of attraction or interest in sex, the less than occasional frequency of experiencing arousal, the lack of sexual desire- it was hard to identify as asexual, because before I did, I went through my life struggling to understand myself. I questioned myself quite a lot, and finally “found my people”.

I felt like I no longer had to feel strange, and I thought that this would surely be the start of a wonderful journey of self-acceptance and love.

But then, people got in the way.

Generally being a person that’s not too great with words, it gets quite difficult to explain my sexuality to others, and I would be lying if I didn’t mention how exasperated I feel after making futile attempts to explain it and to be met with crude comments in return.

The one that surprisingly didn’t really faze me was my father’s reaction after I came out to him: while I admit the first time it was in passing, his reaction was pretty simple: it’s just a phase.

In the simplest of ways, denial is the string that pulls my family together. In moments of utter vulnerability, when everything comes crashing down, I don’t believe that shock is an adequate of an emotion to justify downright wrong behavior.

Above all, the one thing that does not cease to anger me are the comparisons.

I realize it’s only human nature; it’s practically embedded in each one of us to compare things that are seemingly dissimilar.

Comparisons are essential to us, yet we use them incorrectly.

We compare so we can understand what is unknown to us. So really my question is: why the hell do we compare sexualities?

Honestly just the idea of having to explain to someone why there is nothing wrong with being ______ seriously bothers me.

In an ideal world, I think sexuality should be embraced; I cannot emphasizes how deeply I long for the day when we no longer have to emphasize that all sexualities are normal- it should be understood.

I consider it to be selfish when we reject others stories and crudely tell others their life is not as painful as their own.

The truth is, in a very black or white world, we all tend to either over-embellish our stories or simply don’t give them justice.

The pain that we go through is inexplicable, yet we try to put it into words, because we all secretly want someone to look at us straight in the eye with a sad smile and genuinely they understand how we feel.

Additionally, I would like to point out at the role social media plays in the poor portrayal of the LGBTQ+ community.

I didn’t realize until recently just how poorly the community is portrayed in the media. It wasn’t until I started getting involved in the LGBTQ+ society that I’ve really started thinking about it.

To put it bluntly, gay males are always flashy and flamboyant, most likely to be hairdressers\ fashion designers\ unlicensed relationship experts. Lesbians are hostile man haters. Transsexuals are failed drag queens. Bisexuals are just going through a phase. Asexuals are secretly gay. Aromantics are commitment phobic assholes (…)

There’s a cornucopia of other misguided notions that try to define a diverse group of people. The media, since the beginning of time, has always had the ability to influence public opinion. Their views on the LGBTQ+ is completely contrived and does nothing but mar its image.

The LGBTQ+ society members are not always these gaudy, flamboyant, flashy… synonyms; people. Sexuality has no appearance. Thus I urge those who think that it does to please try to change their mindset, please try to educate themselves a little better, and do know that there’s no such thing as wearing gayness on your sleeve.

I would like this message to be sent to the broadest range of ethnic and racial groups. Because it has come to my attention how horridly isolated some of them are; may it be because of religion, social influence, fear, doubt, intimidation…

I’m pointing this out because I firsthand know how it feels to be excluded, completely disregarded. They may have taken our freedom to love, but they will never take the words of love we speak to one another in dreadful times.

This community is made of a conglomeration of sexual orientations, although they may differ, their purpose shall always remain the same, and that is to not live in terror and fear, love freely, and express themselves without obstruction.

Two

I’m a bisexual teen living in a north African Muslim country.

This first sentence might give it away: It’s as bad as you can imagine. There are, of course, people in countries who fully practice sharia law, or even in this country, who’ve had it way worse. Having dealt with fewer issues does not invalidate my struggle.So, I’m just going to talk about how I’ve lived it.

Depending on how you see it, we’re a large community, but we’re mostly closeted that it leaves us each feeling alone and strange among this larger hateful society. We have to try so hard to blend in and avoid suspicions that we sound like total queerphobes, which makes it even harder for us to find each other.

Thankfully, I’ve managed to meet great queer friends who understood and helped me go through hard times. I should mention that their experiences are different than mine even though we’re in the same environment. Another thing to mention is that I can be considered “out” (of the closet) – not by choice- so basically I got outed by people I trusted to other people I don’t even know (news about queer people goes viral so quickly in this place). You wouldn’t think it’s a big of a deal, but the impact it had on me was awful.

I was familiar with homophobia, but I never knew how hard it could be once you’re out. Once you’re out, you’re automatically considered a freak or a monster or anything hideous, really, that people would want to step on, or even kill (Sorry if this seems too harsh, but I’ve met and heard people who have this mindset, and they’re not rare at all).. I’ve been humiliated in many ways: called names, spat on, cyberbullied, mocked…

But it’s not just when you’re out, I feel like it has been worse for me when nobody knew. I had to listen to my closest friends spew extreme homophobic comments; I had to endure hearing them say “gay people should die/be killed”; but being as young as I was, I didn’t see the problem in them–I thought it was me and my “sickness” (Why else would a 10 years old girl have a crush on her female friend, right?). As you get slightly older, that guilt becomes anger, self-hate…then fear.

I’m a believer, but I lost my faith for a bit because I felt like a hypocrite; I didn’t want to step into a Mosque because no matter what I did, I felt impure. They made me feel like what I was is a sin.

I remember a night when I lost sleep over watching videos of gay people in our country’s streets getting cornered and beaten up. It’s disgusting enough that people actually do that and film it, but I remember shaking up and crying while reading comments cheering the abusers. Next thing I remember, I locked myself for days in fear of that happening to me. I’m aware that not everyone is in the know, but I used get so paranoid whenever someone looks at me, as if they know my “darkest secret”. I get paranoid thinking they might jail me for a part of my identity .

 In my case, it’s all ups and downs, ups that are limited to forgetting how bigotted people can be and downs that got to self-harm/suicidal tendencies. It feels like a burden, honestly, that you can’t shake off . But I’ve learned to deal with it, I’ve found comfort in myself and I’m happier. I hope others like me will find that bit of happiness this dark society has been hiding from us.

Now that I think thoroughly about it, I just feel like I can’t stand our situation anymore: this isn’t how things are supposed to be. Harmless queer youth should NOT feel like it’s their fault, or that their sexual/romantic orientation is their “darkest secret”. I don’t want any queer kid to feel like a freak because of a perfectly normal thing. I don’t want any LGBT person to be constantly afraid/cautious . I really want mindsets to change, laws to be abolished and abusers to be punished. I want Muslim communities to get Islam as it is, the peaceful all-accepting religion that is against any discrimination and injustice. I want more queer Muslims/ people living in Muslim nations to speak up. I believe in change no matter how long it might take.

-Anonymous