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Thread: I, the “abnormal”, A searing first-hand account of growing up gay in Syria

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    I, the “abnormal”, A searing first-hand account of growing up gay in Syria

    I lived my childhood with a feeling of total solitude that I lacked the luxury of even understanding. When I then became a young man, and understood the reason for this solitude, I became certain there was something loathsome inside of me; something exactly like the monstrous insect that Gregor becomes in Kafka’s famous novel. I was fully convinced that if this internal ugliness of mine took over me, and became visible to other people, it would suffice to see me meet the same fate as Gregor himself: my mother would be disgusted by me; my father would want to kill me; my sister would be ashamed of me in front of other people; and friends and loved ones would transform into predatory beasts seeking to tear me apart, or perhaps throw me “from height.”1



    **
    Of course, I didn’t come to know all this through self-examination in the philosophers’ or Sufis’ manner. First, before anything else, it came in daily doses—bruising but not deadly—of external rejection and ridicule; of something almost but not quite like hatred. Before I became aware of my entomological reality at the end of high school; the fact of my being a man “afflicted with the sickness of attraction to males;” I experienced the consequences of my failure to perform my social masculinity. I made a number of grievous mistakes between the ages of seven and ten that turned me at lightning speed from a shy or “sensitive” child in people’s eyes to a boy whose strangeness was blended with something of… effeminacy. I preferred feminine dolls to masculine cars, and sitting with the girls and the timid, weak boys in the yard of my mixed elementary school to running around with the strong, naughty boys. I imitated old Egyptian actresses, swinging my hips to dance like my aunt’s daughter more than once in front of the family. The response didn’t take long: my father tore off the heads of the poor dolls in the house after a fierce scolding, and the strong boys at school broke my nose on one occasion, and my teeth on another. I felt a suspicion creeping into the hearts of relatives, and a distress in the eyes of my family as they lauded other children: “How beautiful it is for a boy to be brash and daring!” After that, words like “girly-boy,” “faggot,” and “sissy” were thrown at me; words that make me feel anew as I write them now that they’re marks branded onto my skin. Even now, as I approach the age of 40, I still feel despite myself the shame of that moment, the shame of a boy being the effeminate “type,” and thus a legitimate target of torment.
    **
    1. A reference to certain Islamic texts which mandate this as a form of capital punishment for male same-sex relations. The Islamic State (ISIS) organization has inflicted this punishment on several occasions.
    https://www.aljumhuriya.net/en/conte...ormal%E2%80%9D

    It's an incredible piece that poignantly captures what life is like for gay men in Syria, this was written for LGBT people in the Arab world and was translated rather beautifully by Alex Rowell.
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    Re: I, the “abnormal”, A searing first-hand account of growing up gay in Syria

    The current political situation in Syria aside, I have read that in reality gays were tolerated in Syria so long as they stayed in the closet. In fact, that seems to have been the situation, too, in Iraq under Saddam.

    There were (are?) clubs in Syria where gays could meet. (And, I assume, where police officers could collect bribes to turn a blind eye.) Egypt under their new dictator has been conducting anal examinations.


    I have read that since "good" girls are virgins in the Middle East, many boys turn to each other, including those who gay bash. So long as the tormenters are the "top," they do not consider themselves to be gay to any degree.


    According to the OP, that young man was marked for persecution because he was not "macho." I am assuming that if a gay is macho, then he will not be so severely treated by men who claim to be 100% straight. (The media, of course, have been cautious in reporting that some terrorists in Europe have had a more than passing knowledge of homosexuality once they reached Europe.)

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    Re: I, the “abnormal”, A searing first-hand account of growing up gay in Syria

    Quote Originally Posted by L0neW0lf View Post
    https://www.aljumhuriya.net/en/conte...ormal%E2%80%9D

    It's an incredible piece that poignantly captures what life is like for gay men in Syria, this was written for LGBT people in the Arab world and was translated rather beautifully by Alex Rowell.
    Thanks for sharing this.

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    Re: I, the “abnormal”, A searing first-hand account of growing up gay in Syria

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    The current political situation in Syria aside, I have read that in reality gays were tolerated in Syria so long as they stayed in the closet. In fact, that seems to have been the situation, too, in Iraq under Saddam.
    ......
    I have read that since "good" girls are virgins in the Middle East, many boys turn to each other, including those who gay bash. So long as the tormenters are the "top," they do not consider themselves to be gay to any degree.
    Almost everything you brought up is discussed in the article. Egypt went on a homophobic campaign last year following an incident where gay Egyptian men attending a concert by a popular Lebanese band with an openly gay frontman, raised the rainbow flag, the images went viral on social media to varying degrees of support and condemnation, but traditional media assailed the lgbt community with the same old tired and enduring homophobic tropes, resulting in a government crackdown on those who were part of it.

    This is a video profile of one of the young men who raised the rainbow flag, and his journy from solitary confinement to asylum in Canada:



    It also has a compilation of translated media segments and all the ridiculous charges they were making.

    According to the OP, that young man was marked for persecution because he was not "macho." I am assuming that if a gay is macho, then he will not be so severely treated by men who claim to be 100% straight.
    The author answers this here:

    At the heart of all this lay the issue of masculinity. I had spent a lifetime trying to escape my early failure to perform my social masculinity, and I didn’t realize I had actually succeeded in this except, ironically, concerning my acceptance of my sexuality. In the bars of Beirut, and the parties of Damascus, and over the dating apps that have since become hugely popular, I was welcomed by men fiercely attached to their “masculinity” as one of them, and I discovered with joy and a kind of vain pride that I was categorized as a “masculine” man according to the numerous divisions and “camps” of the gay world. Not many dim-witted homophobes could ever understand this, because their conception of the gay man is of someone “effeminate” by definition. The reality is there’s a vast number of gay people of whom it might be said in one context or another that they “don’t seem gay,” which is an attribute many of them welcome themselves. “Manly,” “acts hetero,” “butch,” “discreet,” “it doesn’t show on him:” these are terms used by many gay men as positive descriptors they emulate and look for in their partners.
    Last edited by L0neW0lf; 01-10-19 at 10:14 PM.
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    Re: I, the “abnormal”, A searing first-hand account of growing up gay in Syria

    Quote Originally Posted by L0neW0lf View Post

    This is a video profile of one of the young men who raised the rainbow flag, and his journy from solitary confinement to asylum in Canada:

    A shoutout to Canada for its humane policy.

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    Re: I, the “abnormal”, A searing first-hand account of growing up gay in Syria

    Quote Originally Posted by L0neW0lf View Post
    https://www.aljumhuriya.net/en/conte...ormal%E2%80%9D

    It's an incredible piece that poignantly captures what life is like for gay men in Syria, this was written for LGBT people in the Arab world and was translated rather beautifully by Alex Rowell.
    You know I gotta tell you. I'm not a great fan of religion, but at the risk of sounding like not a liberal - not all religions are the same. "Modern" Islam is much worse than modern Christianity, in my opinion. I saw a poll of Muslims once where - I forget the percentage - but an alarming number of them think it's ok to let religious judges decide family law and property disputes. Like half, 10 out of 20 Islamic countries favoring Sharia law think it's ok to cut of someone's hand as a penalty for theft.

    An alarming number of Muslims who think Sharia law should be the law of the land think it's ok to stone adulterers.

    I understand the above policies, if applied to the US and Christianity would make James Dobson cream in his pants, but it's a horrible ****ing way to run a society, IMO.

    All this **** revolves around something called, "Sharia law" which I've heard of but I'm not interested in learning more about because whenever I learn something new about it, it sound like serious medieval ****.

    I'm rambling. My point is although I don't for a second thing most Muslims are assholes and believe in this Sharia ****, I just think Islam and Sharia law when applied to running a country is a ****ed up way to go.
    102 contacts between Trump’s team and Russia linked operatives, 28 meetings. None of these contacts were ever reported. Instead, the Trump team tried to cover up every single one of them.

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