Our respondents had many things to say and shared some of their experiences, which the quotes below highlight.
“It’s not as difficult as it is in other countries because we do have our outlets (even though they are not specifically ‘ours’ – but we have made them our own).” (Four-year relationship)
“I am out to my family and they know about my boyfriend and love him. He has a good relationship with my mother in particular.” (Seven-year relationship)
“Generally, I surround myself with open-minded people, people in Amman, not all but the ones in my life have been supportive, understanding and non-judgmental.” (Five-year relationship)
“My partner’s mother doesn’t like the idea that [her daughter] is a lesbian and is living with another girl. It’s one of our major argument topics. Another issue is that we have to lie to the neighbors and tell them that we’re sisters or cousins.” (Three-year relationship)
“It’s not bad, at least not for me. I don’t feel like people must accept my sexuality or anything like that. I keep it to myself.” (Three and a half-year relationship)
“It’s working for us here in Jordan. We live together and own a house together. We have a married couple’s relationship.” (Three-year relationship)
“If it was fine in our culture we would be married by now.” (Nine-month relationship)
“This is more like a dream come true, to live with the person you love.” (Nine-month relationship)
As I went through all these wonderful transcripts that showed a huge variety of dynamics, one specific answer gave me the elixir to my questions and situations. How can I be able to move forward in my relationship? What is the missing ingredient? What is the one universal issue that keeps a relationship succeeding rather than sinking into a static shape or form? It’s communication and honesty. When I asked one of my respondents what was the best part about his relationship, he said, “Trust and open communication are very important in any relationship.” Although I come from a communications background, what he said took a while to sink in. It was just simply and beautifully true; communication is the ingredient to any successful relationship and it is the mature thing to do to keep your relationship ascending. I knew that’s what I needed to amend my relationship situation or perhaps get it moving. “I think engaging, loving, caring and, of course, sexual! That’s how I would describe our relationship. It’s about taking care of and being there for each other,” says another respondent. And it wasn’t until now that I appreciated this project/article. It gave me what I needed.
I was initially going to write a queer piece about the differences between relationships in the Middle East and in the West. I am glad to have realized that there is no difference, 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. “The Jordanian community is one that teaches you many lessons. I’m sure all communities are the same, but I’ve only really experienced the Jordanian one. As cliché as it is, the most important one is that you really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and I mean that in a positive and negative way,” says one of the respondents. One doesn’t need to hold hands with their partner in public for a relationship to succeed. One doesn’t need to publicly announce their sexuality to be able to have a relationship. Most definitely, one is able to love and have a companion even in the most difficult places to live. “One of the things that I would love to see happening is having our own home in Amman. It would be hard moving out from our parents’ houses as you know that people don’t expect that except if you are getting married. But we are planning to overcome this by living in another city for a couple of years and then buying a house in Jordan. We have to be patient,” says another respondent.
It is not until very recently that I summed up the courage and confronted my guy. I had to communicate and clarify the situation. I dreaded the idea of being alone (not dating) and single again but my mind was set, ‘You have to do this, Mo.’ I, of course, had a very bad feeling about it. Lord, was I right! It was clear that we were two people looking for two different things. What surprised me most was my reaction. I thought I was going to go through depression or be very upset. After all, I did care about the guy and immensely liked him. Nevertheless, I was completely relaxed and calm. It was the mere idea of communicating and discussing the issue with him that gave me comfort. I am unsure what this means for the future, whether we will continue dating or never speak to each other again and act like complete strangers when we randomly bump into each in public, but I do know that I have learned quite a lesson: The secret to having a good relationship is communication. The secret to anything succeeding is communication. I will never view my situation with him as a failure. He came into my life for a reason. Whether he stays, as a date or a friend, or leaves, I am quite glad to have met him and to still know him. Therefore, if one day he reads this, I would want him to know that I am grateful for his honesty and for his friendship.
Is it good to be a gay couple in Jordan? And what makes it good? “The question is neither here nor there, really,” says one respondent. “Nothing is good or bad, its working for us here in Jordan.” One day, when each of us finds a partner, a girlfriend/boyfriend or even a friend, we will communicate our feelings, our tactics and we learn from each other. We will learn to be together in conditions that are different than what one sees in the West. We will simply learn to live in the moment and how to progress with the moment. We will learn to have healthy relationships that can coexist with, yet not be displayed to, our societies. We will talk. We will communicate. We will figure out a solution together. We will fundamentally love and in consequence we will remain human.