Gay and Lesbian Relationships in the Middle East: It Is Not Rocket Science!
Can LGBT relationships exists in world where homophobia permeates? My.Kali studies the case!
(Out Loud, 2011. In hot pursuit are the relatives of the two who are gay, Rami and Ziad, closeted lovers in Lebanon who were caught kissing and are marked for death for having brought shame to their families. Watch trailer)
By Mo K.
I am no preacher when relationships are involved. Nor am I that experienced in that field to be able to give advice. To be frank, it took me four months to be able to finally write this article. I was at a loss and currently still am at loss. Perhaps my current relationship status is what has clouded my objectivity and my ability to write this article. Nevertheless, I finally believe I have the capability to write to you, dear reader, and shed light on this issue. Perhaps my experience and the experiences of others that have so generously answered my endless questions, would give you a perspective that is different from the conventional gay relationships that you see on television.
It is mind-boggling when you are trapped and unable to define where you stand when it comes to relationships. Our gay communities are divided into several categories. The ones that I’ve taken a notice of are:
1- Those who have no beliefs or intentions toward a real relationship, letting fun take its toll.
2- Those who have set their gay clock to 30-30, intending to marry a woman and live the “normal life” (what a horrible phrase).
3- Those who stay celibate for spiritual and religious reasons.
4- Those who have been stung by the thorns of bumpy relationships and have stopped labeling any status that they’re in; in other words, stopped believing.
5- And those who keep going back to the dating cycle and never give up till they find what they’re looking for, and most importantly, what they believe in.
To many, especially in the Middle East, gay relationships are believed to be a no go. It’s an ongoing curse, living on recurring wonderings of the likes of how, where, when! It’s very easy to give up on relationships as there’s nothing to look up to, no one’s footsteps to follow in, especially that the environment does not help, therefore it’s very easy to let go. Nothing inspires you… I have been at a loss for quite a long time as my “relationship,” or call it whatever, has been static for the past six months (since its initiation as a date. To elaborate, it is not defined and set yet. For a long time, I have suffered anxiety when it came to this issue as I was unsure where this is going. You can most definitely add that to a blender and mix it with my history of train-wreck relationships and you’ll have a recipe for a disaster.
“…that the geographic location is not exactly what determines the success of a relationship. We’ve learned to adapt with our societies and we’ve learned how to function in the system.”
Many of my friends in America interpreted the situation as the following: “You live in the Middle East, and you guys can’t hold hands and kiss in public. Of course it won’t go anywhere or last.” While that idea slowly sunk into my poor head and drenched me with misery, a ray of hope slowly crept into the dark corners of my mind and made me question that interpretation. I have met, known and befriended gay couples that have been together for a very long time. I had to run my own investigation. I had to unlock the secrets to how these relationships work in such a society.
To my utmost surprise, I realized that relationship dynamics are universal whether straight or gay, in the West or in the East; we are all fundamentally human and have similar traits. I interviewed six people who’ve been in relationships that are successful, with the shortest being nine months and the longest being seven years. I hit the gold pot, I must say; I was one step away to finding the recipe. I expected groundbreaking answers and secrets that could make a book called ‘How to have a healthy gay relationship in the Middle East.’ Oh well, not really. It was just simple.
I can’t deny that we live in a homophobic and judgmental society, which creates many restrictions for us. However, there are ways to surpass these ideologies and live quite a normal life. Some of these relationships often face difficulties, especially from society and family. Regardless of all these challenges, some of the couples I’ve interviewed have been living together for some time, while others remain in their parents’ homes and meet each other outside. Some parents think that their son met the perfect roommate, or the neighbors next door think that the lesbian couple are two sisters. Some are out to their families and have been fully accepted. Couples who share homes have been able to adapt quite effectively to the restrictions of societies. Although one has to tell lies and maintain the image, what became more important is the success of the relationship and a continuous flow of communication that creates mutual understanding between the two parties. We, thankfully, have a strong ability to adapt, even to the toughest situations.