“Being a girl is hard enough in this country, the way we’re treated on the streets or in public transportation… Now imagine that this girl is a lesbian! Believe me, it’s a living nightmare” an anonymous lesbian told Mawaleh. “On the other hand it’s frustrating; there is neither an official hangout nor a known dating website where all girls can meet” she added.
Being a lesbian in this country puts you under too much pressure; if a straight girl gets hit on the streets once, then a butch lesbian will get offended ten times more. This is the reality that we’re living in. But as it turns out, this is not the main issue for lesbians in Syria.
The main problem is not having a known way to connect; there is no official dating website that all girls know of in the country, nor a hangout or a café or anything. On the other hand there is a dating website for gays in Syria. It’s an international website but it happened that all the guys know of it which makes it easier for them to connect.
“We are everywhere in this country” an anonymous lesbian said. “The problem is that we are divided into many small groups for no way for us to get in touch with each other” she added.
As many of the girls were interviewed for this article they all agreed on the same point; being in small groups with no way to connect is one of the main problems of the lesbian society in Syria. Yet, there could be a solution.
Lately, secret groups have been taking place on the worldwide socializing website, Facebook. These groups can’t be found if you look for them by name. You must be added by a person who already belongs to the group.
“I made a fake account on Facebook and then a lesbian friend of mine added me to four secret groups and they were all about lesbians in Syria” an anonymous lesbian told Mawaleh. “At first I was afraid that some members on the group might be straight guys with fake lesbian accounts and just wanting to fool around with girls. But it turned out that all 79 members of the group are lesbians and the number in increasing by the minute” she added.
Yet, even lesbians are afraid of meeting other lesbians on such secret groups.
“What if she ended up being the irrational type, calling my parents and telling them about my sexual orientation? I can’t just trust girls I never met that easy!” an anonymous bisexual girl told Mawaleh. “Most lesbians would understand what I’m talking about” she added.
And as it turns out, she is not alone. Most of the lesbian community in Syria is living under that same fear. It is not only the fear of hurting the family when the girl is outed, but mostly, the fear of getting hurt herself.
Most of the Syrian families come with a mixture of tradition and religion in their backgrounds. There could be some open-minded families that accept and support their daughter, unfortunately, that is not the case for the majority.
Women in Syria are less likely to be financially independent nor settled apart from their families. The idea of being kicked out of the family house is hunting most of the lesbians, and the consequences of being homeless and unsupported are something no one wants to face in this society.
But being kicked out is not the only problem, since a lot of lesbians come from conservative families, another type of struggle floats to the surface; forced marriages.
“Wearing too many faces, would only kill the spirit inside of me” a lesbian married to a man said.
There is a big number of lesbians who were forced to get married. Some of them played it smart and managed to marry a gay man in order to avoid problems but even in such situation it doesn’t get that easy.
At the end; being concerned about other lesbians to find out about your sexuality is not the main reason of not coming-out to them. The real reason is the fear of the future. But you know what! It gets better!
Loulia Dawood and Layla Rihani