Being Gay Is Not a Choice.... It Is a Blessing
Sitting down, watching my mother and father argue, while my grandmother sat in her chair chanting words that I could not understand, yet I knew what she was saying, the words that came out of her mouth meant prayer, faith and hope. Coming from a Lebanese/Muslim background I knew what my future was, even though I was the tender age of seven, it was as if everything was planned out, Primary school, High school, University a job and then marriage, every middle eastern household had that picture painted in their minds, whether they like to say it or not, it was "the right way". or was it?
My mother came here when she was twenty one years of age with my father, they got married and then had me on December the 12th 1987, followed my brother, and then my sister. Happiness was all around, we were a tight happy family, my dad would go to his restaurant in Lakemba while my mother and grandmother did the daily chores, I would go to school with my brother and my sister would be placed in childcare. I didn’t understand much, my mind was too young, arguments broke out, but I always knew they would soon die out. My grandmother would sit me down and tell me stories about my culture, heritage and religion, I enjoyed listening and respected every word that spilled from her heart and soul. Wherever I looked there would be a Quran (Islamic Bible), Pictures on the wall, with religious verses and prayer matts in the cupboard, my grandmother had a strong belief, followed by my mother and father. My name is Abdulkader Annous and this is my story.
I had always known that I was different, certain things excited me, unlike most seven year old boys, I love to play with dolls and to hang the clothes on the wash and help mother with dinner, my father would always drag me away and tell me that I had to start helping him load the car, or clean the backyard, as if I was a puppy who had done something wrong, being whisked away for punishment.
My mother didn’t mind , I guess she thought it was part of growing up.
I grew older and felt more and more different, I didn’t associate with many of the boys in school, being my last year in primary school I focused on my studies, eager to get into a well known Islamic high school, what I didn’t know was that I was not doing it to please myself, but to keep the family reputation, as my cousins all went to the same high school, almost like an omen, like it was written in a book of pre-planned things that had to be achieved. I graduated primary school with flying colours, yet was not enthusiastic about transferring to another Islamic school, I wanted to be among different cultures and religions, I wanted to experience more sociality.
Sitting down on an old wooden desk, waiting for my exam to lightly land on my table for me to complete, the school I had been transferred to required an exam to get placed into it, and I was determined to fail, I slowly browsed the pages on the exam, I was very familiar with the questions, yet my hand would not tick the right answer, my mind was racing, heart was thumping, am I doing the right thing? I asked myself, am I fulfilling my needs or my parents?
Waking up to sounds of birds outside and my grandmother praying in the next room, I heard my mother yell for me, I knew what it was about, frozen with fear I slowly placed my foot down on my bedroom floor and began slowly walking towards the sound of my mother and father bickering,.
I looked into my mothers eyes and all I saw was disappointment, half an hour of hearing yelling and screaming I was sent to my room, tears streaming down my face I knew I had done something wrong, but the funny thing was, it was not wrong to me, only to them. My grandmother explained to me that my mother and father are worried to put me into a co-ed school, as its never been done in my family before, and that I need to keep my faith and the only way for that to happen was for me to learn the ways of my ancestors, prophet and god, I asked a simple question that landed me a sharp pain across my face, "but what about what I want?".
Days passed and my mother had still not spoken to me, we were at my aunties house, visiting as we always do every second Sunday, we would usually have a barbecue and watch films and laugh, my cousins were all very religious, and disciplined. Sitting at the dining table , the wonderful smell of charred chicken, garlic sauce and fresh crisp tabouli filled my nose, suddenly I started to feel sick in my stomach, my aunty had asked if I had passed the exam to get into my school, without hearing the words my mother told her, I knew by the look on her face, she was also disappointed. No longer hungry I decided to leave the table and sit outside and play by myself, something that I would have to start getting used to.
Holding my new backpack, standing in the front foyer of my new high school, my face beamed with joy, I was getting enrolled into Birrong boys high school, it might have not been co-ed but it had a different feel to it, different faces and accents, something I had long waited for, at the age of thirteen I had obviously seen differences in my body and behaviour, very quiet yet always alert in class, I didn’t know how I was going to fit in, but somehow I knew it would work. After having a discussion with the principal, I was left by myself in a class room, without any religious questions or exams, just plain old English.
I became very interested in my new school, starting different classes and making different friends, yet Birrong boys high school was not the safest school to be in, with several different groups hanging together, yet that didn’t bother me, I just stuck to who and what I knew, deep down I knew something was wrong with me, but I remained to keep it hidden, until I knew for sure myself what it was.
Towards the end of the year was busy I had exams and was finally getting ready to start a fresh year in 8th grade. Id finished my exams and received a six week break, which was a bonus, my mother and father would take us to a vacation care centre, where we would be taken care of for a period of eight hours, they would take us places and show us different things, I enjoyed myself, I found that I finally fit in, the supervisors where really nice, I remember one of the supervisors, whose name I cannot mention, everyone kept teasing him and saying that he was gay and that he was dirty, I felt angered, that someone so nice would be singled out, I began telling him that the people whop where teasing him where just stupid and young, as I was three years older than the other children, he would laugh, yet I still saw a look of shame.
During the six week break, things started worsening at home, my mother and father where fighting constantly and I was crying myself to sleep almost every night, all I heard was yelling and screaming, about the restaurant, about me and about money, the root of all evil. It went on for a couple of weeks and then one Saturday afternoon, me, my brother and sister were quietly playing in my grandmothers room, when my mother ordered us to her room, we walked in and saw my mother sitting on her bed in tears, she slowly informed us that she and my father were having a divorce, I laughed, I did not know how to react, I loathed my father, he was rude, irresponsible and arrogant, he gambled and drank and was the biggest hypocrite I knew, and I knew my mother deserved better. This meant big changes to everything, we slowly started changing, after my dad left my mother was very upset and usually would cry before going to bed , it was hard seeing my beloved mother go through such a thing, but I also began to think, was she crying because she had no one to love? Or was she crying because she believed she had jeopardises the families reputation?
Finally it was time for us to move, due to the family speaking about my mother and certain rumours floating about, my mother had decided we were going to move to an area called green valley, which was about forty minutes away from where we lived, I was excited yet also scared, I had always lived in Greenacre, was this change a good idea? Slowly moving furniture and boxes from our home, memories were also beginning to fade away, driving away from our house , my mother breathed a sigh of relief and finally I saw a little glimpse of happiness on her face.
Pulling up to our new house I slowly began scanning the area, it was beautiful, green trees, beautiful brick houses, I was very excited, settling in to our new house was amazing, so much more space and freedom, new furniture was bought with the money my mum received as a result of the restaurant being sold and finally I was beginning to feel at home, once again.
Walking past the gate, holding once again a new backpack, I looked up at my new high school, James Busby high school the sign read, excitement and joy filled my body, I knew this was another normal high school, the only new thing was, this school was co-ed, and much more safer than my previous high school. Walking into the principles office was nerve racking, my mother was telling me that everything was going to be ok, I knew it was, for the first time in a long time I actually listened to what my mother said to me. Once everything was sorted out, I got escorted to my first class, science, I started feeling sick in my stomach, approaching the green door my heart felt like it was about to explode, I walked in, got introduced and sat down, a few funny stared lingered on me, I just ignored them and began my new life in my new school, I was determined to do well.
As the year went on I made friends, and began climbing out of my shell, talking to all different people and laughing and joking around, I met a girl named bekky, who knew that she was going to become like a sister to me, year nine came along and I was beginning to realise what I was, slowly but progressively I was feeling comfortable, after school I would go home and then go to Becky’s house, we would hang out listen to music and just run a muck, one day while going through our candy that we bought, bekky asked me a very intrusive question, she looked me in they eye, all I saw was her nerves, I knew it was not going to be good so I braced myself and listened, "Are you gay?", she asked, I was speechless, I knew something was wrong, but I was not gay, I answered with a simple no, by then I felt violated and confused, why would my best friend ask me this? She began explaining that there were rumours going around school about my sexuality, and there I was thinking that I seemed "Straight", I went home that night with a thousand thoughts in my head, I ignored them, went to bed and slept.
I was always a reserved kind of person, shy and quiet, I would not make a sound, and usually would answer yes to anything even if I did not want to participate, which is how an addiction became part of who I was, sitting there under a green tree, in the middle of spring with a group of friends laughing and eating lunch, a distinct smell crossed my path, it reminded me of my father, it was indeed a cigarette, slowly puffing away, my friends passed it onto me, the first thing that crossed my mind was, why not, one drag and my head became like a rollercoaster, I coughed and passed it on, I was being called a legend, and so I thought, this would be a way of me becoming "cool".
Time passed, as it usually does and I was almost sixteen, I was quite excited as I was going to meet with my friends and hang out, still focusing on my studies yet smoking my lungs away, without my mother knowing offcourse.
December 12th had come along and I was receiving presents, laughing eating and drinking with my family and friends, after we had finished we decided we would go down to the park, which really was a code for a cigarette, it was funny, we had all types of little codes for everything, as we headed down to the park my friends gave me a packet of cigarettes, as it was really hard getting them on my own, I was over the moon, my first packet of cigarettes! It was almost like a milestone, we played laughed and smoked, by the time we had finished it was beginning to get dark, so we all went out separate ways and I went home. After watching some Television, I decided to go have a shower and sneak out for a smoke, I snuck out the back door and began puffing away, suddenly my mothers voice beckoned, I froze, I quickly threw the cigarette away and began waving my arms so the smoke would disappear, my mother approached me with a puzzled look on her face, she asked me what I was doing outside and my stupid reply was " fixing the gazebo", obviously not realising that it was 10pm, and that it was way too dark for that, she told me to open my mouth, she smelt it on me, I cant believe I thought she was that stupid, and all I felt was the sharpest pain across my face, yet again I have let down my mother, all I saw was tears running down her cheeks, she began cursing me and telling me that I was pathetic, by the way it made me feel terrible, finally she asked me where I got the cigarette from, I panicked, I didn’t know who to blame, I didn’t want to blame my friends and then be barred from seeing them, so I blamed my cousin instead, it worked a charm.
Year 10 came along and passed, and suddenly I found myself in year 11, almost finished school, I was excited, I began working hard on my assignments, and paying attention in class was not my best attribute, yet I could not believe the amount of friends and support I had, I was still reserved but in a different way, the rumours remained yet I ignored them, yes I began to feel attracted to the same sex, I would go home and think about the same sex, yet I still did not want to come to terms that I was gay, why? Because it was against my culture, and I did not want to let my mother down anymore, during the two years bekky asked me twice if I was gay, and twice I replied with a simple no, I was not lying, I still didn’t know myself if I was gay, everywhere I went there was talk, and it was beginning to frustrate me, I just focused on what I had to do, and passed with flying colours, yet I still was hiding myself, I felt as if no one knew who I was, it was killing me inside, but I remained silent and put on a smile as if there was nothing wrong.
Graduation was only a few days away, I was preparing to become an adult and begin my life, organising different jobs, I finally found one at the airport, It was a cool job, I was working hard both in my job and on my hsc.
Finally I found myself school free, and working hard, offcourse once I left school many of the friends I had made dropped off like flies, but I still had a few, including bekky, I found myself talking to people older than me, I could conversate better, and I felt as though they understood me more, so I began my future, I loved the fact that I did not have to wake up early and go to school, and that I was free to do whatever I like.
I got to see many things and meet a lot of new people, I worked at the airport for three years, by then I had learnt a lot both about life and myself, I had a really close friend who worked with me, her name was heather and she was basically the person I admired most, she was smart and funny, and our conversations would last forever, I began talking to men, and began to accept what I was, I could not lie to myself anymore, I was almost twenty and began coming out to certain people slowly, one of the people I came out to was a friend that I used to work with at Woolworths, he was also gay, his first reply was " I already knew", I was dumbfounded , I thought I had put on a great impression, guess not.
Sitting in front of my computer I stared at the screen, it was a gay dating website, I was nervous, I was thinking to myself" should I post a profile?", I wanted to meet people, and so I did, I also started going clubbing, I would tell my mother that I had to work late, I would then leave from work and go with my friend out to oxford street, I will never forget the first time I set foot into the club, I was free, bright lights, guys without shirts on, people smiling at me, it was gay heaven, I began to feel more open and free, a few drinks later, a man approached me and told me that I was hot, I was speechless, he turned out to be my friends boss, and we began talking, one thing led to another and we began kissing, the adrenaline shot through my veins, I was happy, I was scared and also nervous all at the same time, we ended up swapping numbers and ended meeting again, this time I was by myself, at that point I had never been clubbing by myself, but I was going to meet Mr Boss, that’s what I will refer to him, and surely he was there, I remember the sweet scent of his aftershave, he bought me a drink and began cuddling me, I saw all his friends eyeing me out like a piece of meat, I turned around and told him to tell them I was with him, an he did, I admired that….. a lot.
After a few drinks I could no longer walk straight, one thing led to another and I ended up back at his place, waking up in the morning, I peered down and was wearing a pair of boxers that were not mine, looking to my left I saw Mr Boss sleeping, did I just sleep with this man? I didn’t know, I could not remember, he woke up to me getting up, "morning *****" he said, I just wanted to get out of there, I had a shower, put my clothes on and left, when I got home I could not look my mother in the face, so I went to my room got changed and decided to go see bekky.
Walking down the street, bekky asked me again, my reply was different, I answered with a yes, her face said that she was satisfied, she asked me why I hadn’t told her earlier, my reply was that I did not know myself, and from that moment on I became a total different person, I was 120kg at the time, so I decided I would diet, what a success that was, after six months I was 35kg lighter, I was beginning to have confidence, and everyone that I knew were amazed at my transformation.
One night while I was at home, I decided to check my profile on the dating website, "1 unread", my mailbox said, I decided to open it, it was a guy from new Zealand, he seemed really nice so we began talking online, our conversations were amazing, we clicked so well, our talks had progressed to the telephone and then one night he told me he was going back to new Zealand for two weeks and asked me how would he introduce me, I simply told him as a friend, and we both agreed on that. Going to work the next day hard, I had stayed up all night speaking to him, when I got to work I had my usual morning coffee with heather and we began conversating, we started taking about couples and she had told me that she met her husband online and now they have been together for thirty years, it was the time to tell her I thought, so I told her about Mr New Zealand (that’s how I will refer to him), and that same day my mind was going crazy, it was the time to tell my mother, I decided to do it over msn, as I was at work and she was at home, and I didn’t really want to do it face to face, so I slowly logged on using my mobile, my hand started to become sweaty, I clicked onto her username and began typing, it was as if it was automatically being written, I basically told my mother that I had something to tell her, and for her not to get angry, and bang I said it, the three words that could ruin everything" mother, im gay" suddenly my mother logged off and I started to panic, I tried ringing her and her phone was switched off, I knew she had read it and that I was in for a big fight when I get home, leaving work was hard, I knew that I was going to fight a battle and I was scared because deep down I knew I was not going to win. As I walked through my front door, my brother and sister kept asking what I have don’t to my mother, I got informed that she had been crying for a while, my heart sunk, and my lump in my throat felt bigger, remembering the advice a good gay friend of mine had told me, it was " when you come out to your parents, put yourself in their shoes and don’t argue", and that’s what I did, I told her we needed to talk and she told me to leave her alone, I told her that it was not going to disappear and that we needed to resolve it and so we did, it was like getting shot at, but my mother was not shooting me with bullets, but with words, each and every shot hitting me straight into the heart, " you’re a mistake", "you’re a failure", "you should have never been born", is just a sample of what I received, yet I didn’t hate her, she basically told me that I chose to be this way, and that’s what im trying to prove in this story, no one chooses to be gay, its what you are.
I began to miss him during those two weeks, even though he would call me often, I felt as though I had known him for a while, we decided that we would meet when he got back, and that day seemed to linger forever, two weeks felt like two years, finally the time had come for us to meet, and it was amazing, we met and became a couple, (im not going to go deep into that relationship, only because I don’t feel the need to reminisce it), seven months passed, we enjoyed ourselves, I had literally moved out of home and in with Mr New Zealand, and we decided that it was no longer working and I moved back home.
Till this day mother is still not accepting, but she knows who I am and what I am, and respects me for it, I no longer speak to my family, no more aunties , uncles or cousins just me myself and my friends and family, and yes I like it this way, I know I have changed since I moved here, and wow what a life changing experience I went through, those of you who know me know how different I am, I am no longer that reserved shy boy anymore, I am a loud, proud gay man, who has basically defied his culture to become who he is, and yes im happy that way, I would change nothing about me, I love my life, I love my friends and family, and without them I would not be who I am today, thank you all, for everything.