You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice


You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice

Below is an article written by one of Proud Lebanon’s ex-members.
He moved recently to a Scandinavian country where he is starting a new chapter of his life.

Perfect society!
Normal people with normal emotional and sexual desires!
Societal cages with regressive binary notions!
Prejudice, stereotyping, stigma, discrimination and other behaviors LGBT in Lebanon are still treated like that.
Secrets and double life that’s how gays and lesbians in Lebanon live.
It is just a derogatory life.
Freedom is not about how many nightclubs are accessible to LGBT. It is way more than that.

Let’s list communities who are usually stigmatized in societies: LGBT, refugees, people living with HIV, etc.
Well, I am all those on that list. I am gay, a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon, and living with HIV.
How scary is the idea that my parents find out that I am gay or living with HIV?
How about my friends, or colleagues at work?
What if someone posted all that about me on social media, i.e. Facebook?
Many guys, relatives or people who were close to the family raped me many times in my childhood.
I never said anything about that. That was my childhood or at least that’s how I remember it. 

It was painful to keep all inside. I was confused and afraid.
I grew up feeling ashamed, unworthy and helpless.
When I was a teenager all I thought about was that I did something wrong.
The feeling got worse when I started to explore my feelings towards guys. I heard people talk and on TV shows that usually boys who get raped when they are children are likely to become gays.
I had that thought all the time and things I heard about gays from my parents, relatives, friends, and even colleagues at work. It was impossible to think about coming out to my surrounding environment. 

I heard about organizations, which work with LGBTs in Lebanon. I thought this could be an opportunity for me to meet others like me.
In 2015, I went to Proud Lebanon and it was a safe place to discuss anything and ask for help when needed.
I volunteered with the organization and I attended most of their activities.
I became more comfortable with my sexual orientation and my HIV status.
I met people like me and we talked about almost everything.
We learned from the experiences of others.
We shared stories and it became a chance to help others.

Bob Marley once said, “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.”
I achieved many milestones that I never thought I would be able to achieve before.

I still do not enjoy all my human rights in Lebanon, but maybe things can little-by-little workout.
If not for me, maybe for others in the future.