IN the Morocco of the 1980s, where homosexuality did not, of course, exist, I was an effeminate little boy, a boy to be sacrificed, a humiliated body who bore upon himself every hypocrisy, everything left unsaid. By the time I was 10, though no one spoke of it, I knew what happened to boys like me in our impoverished society; they were designated victims, to be used, with everyone’s blessing, as easy sexual objects by frustrated men. And I knew that no one would save me — not even my parents, who surely loved me. For them too, I was shame, filth. A “zamel.”
Like everyone else, they urged me into a terrible, definitive silence, there to die a little more each day.
How is a child who loves his parents, his many siblings, his working-class culture, his religion — Islam — how is he to survive this trauma? To be hurt and harassed because of something others saw in me — something in the way I moved my hands, my inflections. A way of walking, my carriage. An easy intimacy with women, my mother and my many sisters. To be categorized for victimhood like those “emo” boys with long hair and skinny jeans who have recently been turning up dead in the streets of Iraq, their skulls crushed in.
The truth is, I don’t know how I survived. All I have left is a taste for silence. And the dream, never to be realized, that someone would save me. Now I am 38 years old, and I can state without fanfare: no one saved me.
I no longer remember the child, the teenager, I was. I know I was effeminate and aware that being so obviously “like that” was wrong. God did not love me. I had strayed from the path. Or so I was made to understand. Not only by my family, but also by the entire neighborhood. And I learned my lesson perfectly. So deep down, I tell myself they won. This is what happened.
I was barely 12, and in my neighborhood they called me “the little girl.” Even those I persisted in playing soccer with used that nickname, that insult. Even the teenagers who’d once taken part with me in the same sexual games. I was no kid anymore. My body was changing, stretching out, becoming a man’s. But others did not see me as a man. The image of myself they reflected back at me was strange and incomprehensible. Attempts at rape and abuse multiplied.
I knew it wasn’t good to be as I was. But what was I going to do? Change? Speak to my mother, my big brother? And tell them what, exactly?
It all came to a head one summer night in 1985. It was too hot. Everyone was trying in vain to fall asleep. I, too, lay awake, on the floor beside my sisters, my mother close by. Suddenly, the familiar voices of drunken men reached us. We all heard them. The whole family. The whole neighborhood. The whole world. These men, whom we all knew quite well, cried out: “Abdellah, little girl, come down. Come down. Wake up and come down. We all want you. Come down, Abdellah. Don’t be afraid. We won’t hurt you. We just want to have sex with you.”
They kept yelling for a long time. My nickname. Their desire. Their crime. They said everything that went unsaid in the too-silent, too-respectful world where I lived. But I was far, then, from any such analysis, from understanding that the problem wasn’t me. I was simply afraid. Very afraid. And I hoped my big brother, my hero, would rise and answer them. That he would protect me, at least with words. I didn’t want him to fight them — no. All I wanted him to say were these few little words: “Go away! Leave my little brother alone.”
But my brother, the absolute monarch of our family, did nothing. Everyone turned their back on me. Everyone killed me that night. I don’t know where I found the strength, but I didn’t cry. I just squeezed my eyes shut a bit more tightly. And shut, with the same motion, everything else in me. Everything. I was never the same Abdellah Taïa after that night. To save my skin, I killed myself. And that was how I did it.
I began by keeping my head low all the time. I cut all ties with the children in the neighborhood. I altered my behavior. I kept myself in check: no more feminine gestures, no more honeyed voice, no more hanging around women. No more anything. I had to invent a whole new Abdellah. I bent myself to the task with great determination, and with the realization that this world was no longer my world. Sooner or later, I would leave it behind. I would grow up and find freedom somewhere else. But in the meantime I would become hard. Very hard.
TODAY I grow nostalgic for little effeminate Abdellah. He and I share a body, but I no longer remember him. He was innocence. Now I am only intellect. He was naïve. I am clever. He was spontaneous. I am locked in a constant struggle with myself.
In 2006, seven years after I moved to France, and after my second book, “Le rouge du tarbouche” (the red of the fez), came out in Morocco, I, too, came out to the Moroccan press, in Arabic and French. Scandal, and support. Then, faced with my brother’s silence and my mother’s tears on the telephone, I published in TelQuel, the very brave Moroccan magazine, an open letter called “Homosexuality Explained to My Mother.” My mother died the next year.
I don’t know where I found the courage to become a writer and use my books to impose my homosexuality on the world of my youth. To do justice to little Abdellah. To never forget the trauma he and every Arab homosexual like him suffered.
Now, over a year after the Arab Spring began, we must again remember homosexuals. Arabs have finally become aware that they have to invent a new, free Arab individual, without the support of their megalomaniacal leaders. Arab homosexuals are also taking part in this revolution, whether they live in Egypt, Iraq or Morocco. They, too, are part of this desperately needed process of political and individual liberation. And the world must support and protect them.
tw: image contains a really heterosexist tweet
The powers that be do not want me to have a good night.
Man, let’s say you’re at a party, yeah? And there are people at the party that prefer cake, and people at the party who prefer pie, so the host serves both. Alright, cool.
So you go in for a slice of pie, when suddenly the host CHARGES over and goes “WOAH WOAH WOAH WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?”
“I’m having some pie, man, chill.”
“What the hell? I thought you had cake last time.”
“Yeah, I did have cake last time. But I’m not feeling the cake tonight. And this is my favorite kind of pie.”
“Ohhh no. I thought you were a CAKE person and now all of a sudden you’re eating pie on me? You’re confusing me! Make up your mind!”
“What’s the big deal, even? There’s plenty of both for everyone.”
“YOU CAN’T LIKE BOTH CAKE AND PIE. YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE.”
But man, fuck that guy, I’m going to have the pie anyway, who cares if I had cake last week.
And then if that pie is so good that I never want any other dessert for the rest of my life, that doesn’t mean I suddenly never liked that cake that I ate.
Actually this metaphor is kind of dumb. I guess I should just leave it at “fuck you.”
No, it’s sweet. In fact, it’s a lovely springboard for the rest of the sexualities. For instance, asexuality:
You’re enjoying the party - the music, the conversation - but you just don’t feel like eating cake or pie.
Suddenly, the host charges over with some cake he’s sure you’ll love. He knows this cake. It’s not too rich and not too dry. You politely refuse.
The party keeps going until the host comes back with a slice of pie, practically shoving it in your hands. You try to refuse again.
“Oh come on, what do you want?”
“Nothing, I’m fine.”
“Are you on a diet?”
“No, I just don’t eat pie. Or cake.”
“…you had a bad experience with dessert, didn’t you?”
“Forgive me if I’m getting too personal, but it had to be something traumatic. Did someone spike a baked good of whatever construction with a laxative?”
“Fuck no. I just have no desire to eat dessert. I’m sure your pies, cakes, muffins, cookies, waffles, wafers, Nutella sandwiches, what have you…I’m sure they are all lovely. Please, serve them to any and all who would consume them. I’m not one of them. Is that really so hard to comprehend?”
“…you just haven’t found the right one.”
I sort of really love dessert metaphors for sexuality because some of the things people say about sexuality are so ridiculous, but people really only notice them with the metaphors.
Also I love them because I like food and I’m going to eat some dessert now.
the metaphor may begin to break down around demisexuality but what if you’re not really into the whole “eating desserts” thing, in general; like, maybe sweets just ain’t your thing! But your significant other always makes special desserts just for you and they put a lot of effort into them and so of course you eat them and they’re—well, they’re really nice, and so from then on you just really like the desserts they make, but if you go out to a party and they just have random desserts chillaxing you’re always like “eh” “nah” “doesn’t look too appetizing” “[SO] didn’t make ‘em they’re probs not that gr8”
and with pansexuality is like if you like cakes AND pies AND puddings and—just, all desserts, as long as they taste good! Trifles? Yes! Cookies? Yes! Fruit salad? Yes! Ice cream? Yes! But then people are just like “what there are only pies or cakes to choose from WHAT ARE THESE OTHER DESSERTS YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT I DON’T UNDERSTAND U”
BLESS THIS POST
Guys. There are some people on this world who don’t understand any sexuality other than hetero- and homo-sexual.
TUMBLR JUST EXPLAINED IT USING DESSERT.
This is why I love tumblr. And look, not everyone here is a person of color, anonymous! I love them just the same!
Priya and Rebecca’s wedding at Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. The wedding was a blend of both cultures and religions. They served a fusion of Indian, Lebanese, and American food at the wedding reception. Rebecca’s uncle built the mandap from scratch. Priya wore her mom’s wedding sari to the wedding while Rebecca wore a white dress. For the reception, Rebecca wore a salwar kameez and Priya wore a custom suit. (via soyoureengayged)
That’s so awesome! I’ve never seen a Desi Queer (or rather lesbian) wedding, and I’m glad Priya’s family supports her. Congrats to Priya and Rebecca :)
i was walking with a straight friend of mine who decided to tell me that she doesn’t think i’m really that gay anymore because i started dating men again and it’s been a while since i was with a girl.
i was so surprised, the only comeback i gave was a sarcastic- oh, yeah, because straight people aren’t straight when they’re not fucking. no virgins can be straight. she called them questionable. to her, she’d say she was joking.
but then she started asking me when last i was even attracted to a woman, and i burst out laughing and derailed the conversation into talking about hot women i’d seen in SA. because i didn’t know how to treat this conversation other than as a huge jokey joke. it was hurtful though.
first of all, i’m queer. second, people feeling that they can fucking come in and rearrange my sexual identity because i’m not proving my gayness by drowning in the pussy, idk how to deal with them. because honestly, i don’t keep friends that would say shit like that to me. don’t get me wrong, when i started hooking up with dudes again, my ride or die friends were confused, but they asked me. they asked how i identified, they asked what prompted it, and i was comfortable explaining it to them because they did me the courtesy of respecting my identity enough to let me be the one to define it.
sometimes it just sucks when your people say homophobic shit and are clueless as to how hurtful it is…