It was a fairly hot night. I was sitting in front of my PC alone, thinking about what I was going to write for the magazine. Along with many chaotic, random thoughts, I drifted away to a realm of imagination where I found myself in a better world; a world where humans are created to be humans. Where their humanity is not a commodity sold in a marketplace that displays normal behavior behind bars of prejudice and discrimination.
The phone’s ringing, which sounded more like moaning, brought me back to reality. I picked up and it was one of my friends inviting me over to his apartment. He had already invited two other friends of ours who had finished their pack of cigarettes. I heard them in the background telling him: “tell him to bring a pack of cigarettes with him”.
I was hesitant at first. It was already dark outside and the situation wasn’t very stable at the time. But then I said to myself “why not? Que sera sera”. I called a cab because my friend’s house was far away from mine. I arrived to his building and he welcomed me by opening the building’s door. I went up the stairs and he opened a second then a third. We finally arrived to his apartment and he opened the door for me; that was the fourth door. I wasn’t surprised, it was very normal considering the situation. Smiles were the first thing I noticed, and then kisses on the cheeks. Ironically, after all the reinforcements and doors, we sat on the balcony. As usual, I found my first friend in his underwear slamming his belly and showing it off while eating what was left of the plate of fruits. The other one was looking at him with resentment and fear, because the first used to punch him for fun like he was doing with his belly. I sat down and before I caught my breath, I took the pack of cigarettes out of my bag and gave it to them. I saw the light and happiness of their yellowish teeth thanking me for what I had brought. The pack was opened and the cigarettes were handed out, I didn’t take one because I had quit smoking a long time ago. The conversation started along with the smoking. We talked about the situation and politics. We played the roles of political analysts, as if we were aware of all political schemes. Then we became medical experts. One of my friends was studying pharmacy but he always gets upset if you ask him a medical question so we quickly changed the subject. We then turned into religious scholars and started a pointless discussion. My friend with the belly was the leader of this conversation as he was the closest one of us to a religious man, although he wasn’t exactly one. Just like the other conversations ended, so did this one. With sounds of bullets from light weapons, followed by medium and heavy weaponry which were then followed by their big sister, the mortar; we rushed inside to the living room where the evening took a different taste especially after the tea and the snacks had arrived. When the pot of boiling tea arrived with vapor rushing out of it, it brought with it all kinds of foggy topics. We talked about politics again, followed by human rights and then our emotions and feelings – the last was always brought up by my friends for mockery. I don’t know why but I had a weird feeling when I looked at my third friend, who was studying philosophy. He had a strange grin on his face; as if he was saying “I’m going to start a conversation that will change the atmosphere”. Of course I thought to myself: “he’s going to talk about homosexuality”. And I was right; he always opens it for many reasons, I only know some of. Smiles started growing bigger until they became laughter with the pharmacist; but stayed a wide yellow grin with the other two. Homosexuality always brought sexual thoughts to their minds, regardless of the reason of the discussion and where it was going. After starting the conversation, he cleared the field for our religious friend who didn’t hesitate to start saying what he was taught about the “abnormality of the act” without even thinking that he should give a reasonable or logical explanation. Instead he just kept going on and on about how normal vaginal sex was and how anal sex was a disgusting unnatural act. He didn’t dare to say “not even animals do it” because I had convinced him a while ago that homosexuality is widespread in the animal kingdom. But this time he came up with a different explanation. He suggested an animal’s sexual behavior was not an innate behavior but it developed as it happened with humans. All of that of course without stating any piece of scientific evidence to back his theory. I tried to ignore him as much as possible. Even if I had something to say, his words were wrong on every scientific level; psychologically, biologically and medically. I wanted to know what their biggest reason for rejecting gay relationships was so I asked them one by one and all three had the same answer. They all said that they accepted homosexuality and realized it was a normal social phenomenon. Their rejection was based on the idea of the sexual relation. “How can a man have sex with another man?!” they said with disgust and disdain visible on their faces. I immediately realized what the reason for their disgust was. They were imaging themselves having sex with another guy, which instantly triggered their paranoia about their masculinity. They’re not what can be considered homophobic as they had declared clearly that they would have sex with another guy, provided they were the active partner. Their fear came from imagining themselves in the passive partner’s position. Another interesting point they made was that they had no problem with having anal sex with a girl – a lot of guys do that in Middle Eastern societies to preserve the girl’s virginity. This indicated that they had a problem with the gender of their partner, not the “abnormality” of the act. This is perfectly understandable considering they were heterosexuals but it was wrong to use it as an argument against homosexuality. One of them then suggested a more “modern” approach to the subject. He stated that homosexuals were mentally ill people who needed our help and acceptance to get better. Of course, this is also rejected by most scientific evidence dating as far back as the days of Sigmund Froid. Finally, I sadly have to say that most people, even psychiatrists, in the Middle Ease still hold on to negative thoughts and prejudices against homosexuality, as do some Western societies as well. However, scientific evidence is increasingly denying the theory that homosexuality is a mental illness or related to psychological disorders in any way.
written and translated by: Nour Maarawi
edited by: Adam Domari