I just came back from the funeral of a gay man.
He was 55 years old, single, worked as an architect, kind, quite shy, well-traveled. Oh, and no one knew he was gay. Not even me.
To be frank, I don’t even know the guy. He’s the cousin of a very good friend of mine. That very good friend of mine called me two days ago in tears to tell me he died of some heart malformation. She then called me again crying louder tears to tell me she urgently needed to see me.
While sitting on my couch freezing late last night, it took her a good 20 minutes to actually say what was on her mind. Finally, she spurted it out: “He’s gay. My cousin is gay. I was cleaning up his bedroom, and I found pictures of men. I didn’t know. I mean I kind of guessed, but not really.”
And suddenly, I was broken hearted. I created an entire scenario about this man, whom I had never met, his life as a closeted gay man, living in Lebanon, hiding his true self from everyone around him, no one but his sister by his bed as he lay dying.
It’s not a happy story. Actually, it’s an extremely depressing story. Of course, as a gay man, this touched a bit too close to home. In the lonely death of this stranger, I saw the thousands of gay men, living in secrecy in Lebanon, hating themselves, embarrassed by who they are, unable to create a support system for themselves.
I saw the teenagers who are currently discovering their sexualities, and the decisions they make as a result of it. The decision to leave the country; the decision to keep it a deep dark secret; the decision to ignore their feelings; the decision to end their lives; the decision to hate themselves; the decision to lead a life of loneliness.
And of course, there is always the decision to come out, accept themselves, be surrounded by supportive people, discover love.
I have been thinking about this blog for a while now. I’ve been trying to get it going, been writing a few articles that I will share on here soon enough. But this sudden death brought a sense of urgency for me. I want people to know that there is always one other option: the option to take control of it all, and live a life where your sexuality is not a reason to hate yourself, and is not a reason for people around you to hate you.
There’s only one thing I hope to get out of this blog: Show people that one can live in Beirut, be openly gay, and be happy, surrounded by a strong support system. Simply put, this blog aims to portray the often quite boring, sometimes really exciting, life of an out gay man in Lebanon.