I came out to my dad. He had a heart attack.
I’m not speaking metaphorically, my father literally had a heart attack after I came out to him.
Perhaps I could have handled the situation a little more delicately, with more poise and respect to both him and myself instead of the drunken stupor I was in, stumbling home at 2am and roaring out “Fuck it I’m gay”.
Perhaps I could’ve broken it down gently to him, explained to him the statistics and that some of the most successful and rational human beings out there happen to be gay.
Perhaps I should’ve taken into consideration his cultural heritage, how he was brought up surrounded by Muslims, his religious beliefs of Catholicism and how I would, as he so eloquently put it “bring shame to his family name”.
But I didn’t.
Because I knew exactly how he would react regardless of when, or how, or why I told him.
I was the devil’s child, a faggot, a woman, a bitch, a disappointment, a disgrace. He could see the evil seeping through my eyes.
He wouldn’t stop yelling. He couldn’t. He was so riled up I couldn’t get a word in. I’ve never seen him so angry… and then he had a heart attack because of the stress I caused, the anxiety I brought upon him. I know it wasn’t my fault but I can’t help but feel responsible.
I can never hate my dad, he truly doesn’t know any better. He begged me to change my ways as if it were my choice! He asked me why I don’t love him anymore as if that could ever be something I am capable of. He offered to sell his house to afford the right medical treatment to ‘fix me’, as if I were broken.
I pity his ignorance and his lack of understanding. I’m saddened by the idea that he will never truly accept me. I am heartbroken for so many out there who are in the same boat, who live a life constantly ruled by fear and prejudice.
The narrative the Muslim world has created causes incredible grief for millions of closeted men who are not able to fathom the idea of coming out to anyone, let alone themselves. The majority of gay Arabs will internalise this grief and find solace in self destruction, much like what I did for so many
years of my life where ending your life is the easier option. They’ll become a certain age where their families will pressure them into an arranged marriage and continue the sick cycle carousel of domestic abuse, arrogance and violence which runs strife in Arab culture. The internal struggle to find acceptance in oneself is challenging at the best of times, but when confronted of the real possibility of the death penalty… Well that speaks for itself.
I consider myself lucky truthfully. I was born in Australia, a country where the quality of what you do trumps who you are. Homophobia runs rampant throughout the world and it’s our duty as people to educate, to tell our stories and to accommodate to those in unfavourable positions.
My name is Michael. I’m gay. I’m Arab. I’m Australian. And I’m fucking proud of who I am and my journey so far in this world.