I met Y about 4 years ago. He’d had quite a tough few years. His father had found out that he was gay, and decided that the only way to cure that would be to lock him up in his room for 2 months, with no access to anybody. For 2 months, Y lived at the mercy of his father, who told him he would let him go when he stopped being gay.
So Y, who was 16 at the time, pretended he was straight, in order to gain his freedom. His father, convinced that his prayers had worked and that his punishment was efficient, thanked the Lord and freed his son, always keeping a very close eye on everything he did.
Meanwhile, Y set out to find a job. He started working at a local café, and put all of his money aside. Within a few months, Y had saved up enough money to leave his house. He hasn’t been back since, and he hasn’t seen his father since.
While it hurts him to talk about this, he frankly tells me that he is a much happier person today. He’s out, free to be who he wants to be, without the threat of his father. He misses him, of course, but realizes that he only became who he wanted to be once his father was no longer able to control who he was.
I started coming out when I was still living at home with my parents. I was still getting money from them, and my first job barely covered the basic expenses. I didn’t have a choice but to stay in their house, and abide by their rules.
Their rules, of course, included no homosexuality. My father had made it clear that homosexuality would not be tolerated in his house, whatever that means.
Of course, when you’re struggling to earn a living, coming out takes a backseat. I needed a place to sleep at night, I needed food, and I needed the support of my family.
Being dependent meant that I could not be gay. Not openly at least.
I only fully came out when I moved out of their house and stopped getting any kind of financial support from them.
I’m not an exception. Most young people I meet today, who are still in school or in university, say the same thing.
“I can’t come out. I still live with my parents.”
“My father would cut me off if he knew I was gay.”
“There’s no way my parents can find out about me. They’d kick me out.”
Because they were dependent on their parents, they could not be who they wanted to be.
There’s something horrible about dependence. It keeps you down, limits your every move, turns you into something you’re not.
Independence, on the other hand, allows you to grow, to flourish, to blossom. It allows you to be who you want to be. It allows you to excel. It allows you to be an active, proud member of society. It allows you to live.
When dependence turns into control, it’s time to move on. When dependence is used to keep you down, it is time to free yourself and rise up.
Happy Independence Day, my fellow Lebanese. Here’s hoping one day, we’ll truly all be allowed to be who we are.