Surviving Homophobia: Tortured by the Church

“Z” was the only child of a very well-known family in his city so his struggle with homosexuality was significant. He tried not to mix with other gays thinking that that would make it easier for him to get married and stop being gay. But his knowledge and education confirmed to him that his homosexuality is not something he can change.

ظلمةAlthough he excelled in mathematics, he could not apply the mathematical equations to his life, which turned upside down when he fell in love. Everything changed and his focus turned from trying to hide his sexuality from his family to trying to look for an opportunity to spend most of his time, if not all of it, with his lover.

“Love is Strange”, he says. Its symptoms started to show on his face and manifest in every move he made. Even his mother noticed and started following him to know for whom her son’s heart beats.

His efforts were directed to creating an opportunity to meet his lover without giving much attention to hiding anything from his mother, who started following him more often. She didn’t want her son to marry into a different religion or social class. One day she looked through his cell phone and she was shocked to find a number of love messages that he shared with Ahmad; a guy she had never known or heard of before. She instantly considered him to be a corrupt man seducing her son into shameful actions that she must stop right away.

She immediately went to the church and told the priest about her son’s actions. The priest asked her to bring him to the church library for a meeting. And she did what he asked for.

In that disconsolate room, which was supposed to glow with love, “Z” felt an amount of hatred he never thought he could experience in his life. The priest, who used to smile at him every time he went to church, seemed now like an anger-filled devil that was making him feel guilty and ashamed.

Not only did the priest ask “Z” and his mother to come, but he also invited his psychiatrist brother to discuss Z’s case and how to cure him. His brother suggested various ways of treatment, starting with psychological counseling and he insinuated that it might include electro-shock therapy; an exorcism was suggest by a psychiatrist; an electro-shock therapy accompanied with Bible’s verses read by his priest brother. The boy just stood there, shocked with how everyone that agreed that he was evil and corrupt.

The priest’s threats were clear and his instructions were strict; “Z” felt that he had to obey them. He was about to lose everything, and everyone around him was about to know of his sexual identity; everyone in that small community where people enjoy gossiping about others and their family secrets.

The psychiatrist didn’t listen much to what “Z” had to say. He only said “nobody taught me anything, I’m just the way I am” before the electro-shock therapy and exorcism sessions were decided.

The priest helped Z’s mother to arrange a marriage for him. They chose a good God-fearing woman that would help him rid himself of the devil that was inside him, but without telling her what it was ordering him to do. Z just complied.

The priest’s looks towards “Z” still hold a lot of doubt and judgment. His mind is still trapped in the electro-shock sessions he had to go through. The echo of the priest’s prayers still haunts his ached head, forcing him to say from time to time, “I’m not evil. I was born this way”.

interviews by: Sami Hamwi
translations by: Nour Maarrawi
translations edited by: Adam Domari

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