I came back home one day after hanging out with my friends to find my father acting weird with me. I felt that something was wrong but I couldn’t really tell what it was. I tried to ask him, but he just kept quiet and didn’t respond, as if he didn’t want to talk about it in front of the family.
I was worried that he might have found out about my sexual orientation. It was the first thing that came to my mind because I had left my external hard drive at home and it didn’t have a password. It contained pornographic videos and some pictures of me with my ex-boyfriend, not sexual ones but enough to make him know that we were boyfriends. Thousands of ideas were floating through my mind about how he would react if he really saw those files and what he would do to me.
My father knew about my sexual orientation a long time ago. I was fourteen year-old and we had had internet connection for about 6 months in my town, a suburb of Damascus. I started searching some gay sites and looking at pictures of nude guys. I really liked what I was seeing but I didn’t know that this was called “homosexuality” or that society rejected it and considered it a psychological disorder.
I didn’t know a lot about the internet, so my father found out about the sites that I had been visiting. He scolded me and started yelling and saying insulting and offensive things about gays “Son, those people are perverted and disgusting, do you really want to be one of them?” I was scared and I said that I was only going to those websites to know more about them, not because I was one of them. I don’t think he believed me; he just nodded.
At the time, I actually didn’t know the answer to his question myself, am I gay or not? I had no idea. I was terrified that he might do something violent. My father was a harsh man and hitting me was an easy thing for him. That’s why I said I wasn’t gay. After that incident, it was all forgotten and never came up again until that night.
I couldn’t sleep at night. I was very scared and I talked to some of my gay friends about what had happened. It was one of the worst nights in my life.
The next day, my father was on the balcony having coffee with my mom. After a while, she went to her room to change her clothes, so I went out and sat next to him hoping to talk about the problem; I couldn’t bear the fear anymore, be he was the one who started the conversation.
Dad: What did I tell you long ago about those pictures of naked guys you were seeing?
Me: Why? What’s the problem?
My father: I was going through your external hard drive and found some gay movies and pictures. You told me you were going to stop watching those movies. But I didn’t believe you, so I looked through your hard drive. And I was right, you’re still watching them.
My mom came back after changing her clothes so my dad stopped the conversation. I went to my bedroom thinking of what I was going to do after he saw the videos on my hard drive, although I was really lucky that he didn’t see the pictures I took with my ex-boyfriend.
I started thinking about what I would say when he talks to me about it again. I asked all of my gay friends for advice. Some of them advised me to deny the whole thing and say that a friend asked me to keep the videos for him and I didn’t know what they were. Others thought that I should just come out and tell him the truth about my sexuality.
I wasn’t sure which advice to take. My father was too smart to fall for the lie if I go with the first one, and even if he did, I wasn’t sure that lying to him would solve the problem. At the same time, I couldn’t predict my father’s reaction and the consequences of telling him the truth, so, I had to be prepared for whatever he would do.
After a lot of thinking and long conversations with my friends, I decided not to deny who I was and to tell him the truth about my sexuality. I packed myself a small bag in case he didn’t want me in the house anymore. My father is a religious person and I didn’t really know how he would react.
I started preparing myself for the conversation with my dad about my sexuality. I don’t deny that I was afraid, but I was determined to tell him the truth. After a while, I got more and more scared and fear started devouring my courageous thoughts.
My father came to my room, grabbed a chair and sat next to me. His face was full of anger and seriousness. My already shaken self-confidence was then crumbling. He gazed right into my eyes and started talking.
Dad (with a very intense tone): Okay, tell me now. What do you have to say about those movies I found on your hard drive? And don’t even think about lying to me. Just tell me the truth.
Me (after taking a deep breath): Dad, I’m gay. What can I do about it?
He looked at me with a shock on his face. Then he calmed down a bit and talked to me in a soft tone like the one he used to use not so long ago, as if he genuinely wanted to listen to me and not judge or scold me like I was expecting.
Me: Dad, when you found out about the gay sites I visited a long time ago and I told you I wasn’t gay, I really didn’t know back then if I was gay or not. I was a kid and didn’t know about these things.
Dad: But it’s wrong, it’s not normal. You should’ve done your best to stay away from these things instead of keeping those dirty gay movies.
Me: and who told you that I didn’t try my best?! I had a really rough period some time ago. I couldn’t face who I was. I used to pray to God every night and ask him to change me. But nothing happened, nothing changed. And honestly, I feel a lot better now that I made peace with who I really am.
Dad (surprised): So you get turned on if you hold a guy’s hand?! That’s just wrong, son! It’s against God’s will. Don’t tell me you’ve had sex with a guy before!
Me: No no!! I never have. I’m afraid to even think about it. I’d never be able to do it.
I kept denying that I had had any sexual or emotional relationship with another guy because such a confession would have disastrous consequences.
I tried to convince him in many different ways, scientifically and psychologically, that I can’t control those feeling but he kept insisting that it was a disease and that I should seek a psychiatrist’s help. But if my feelings were a disease, then what’s there left to be considered healthy of me?
After a long discussion, I realized that I wasn’t going to convince him.
He then suggested that I go to the church regularly and ask one of the priests there for help. He also asked me to delete the gay movies as a first step in my “healing” process.
I complied with his suggestions even though I knew they weren’t going to change anything. I had already tried all of them a long time ago but they were worthless. Nobody can change their feelings in any way.
After our conversation ended, he went into his room and came back with a smile on his face with my allowance, which he had refused to give me the day before. I felt relieved after our conversation, it hadn’t gone the way I had planned it, but it was a step forward.
As days went by, I didn’t notice any big change in the way he or mom treated me. Everything felt the same. Yes, he didn’t completely accept the idea but at least he was discussing it. More importantly, he didn’t react against me in any way, and that was worth the huge risk I chose to take by telling him the truth.
written and translated by: Nawar Jeiroun
edited by: Adam Domari