© Maryam al-Khasawneh

Being Arab and Queer

being Arab and Queer and trying not to cancel any part of my inner story has been my challenge since i was born

i remember the day i opened my eyes was the day my dad slapped me in the face because i was wearing my djellaba as a bustier dress

then he tried to force me to practice sport

i remember soccer

i remember pain

i remember locker rooms

i can still smell the shame and taste the sweat on my tongue when anxiety was hitting

i can still feel the humidity of the grass

and their soccer shoes echoing against my bones

then he tried to force me to learn arabic

i remember my fear of pronouncing it wrong

i remember myself being mean

i remember myself mocking his culture

i remember myself associating Arab culture to homophobia

and i still can see my white mom encouraging it

to keep her son close to her and only her

then he taught me shahada

and i loved it

i thought for a while that maybe being the religious guy of the family could save me

i started praying every night

my cousins came on a Saturday evening

i remember them laughing at me because my prayers were messy

i suddenly became aware that my dad was a fake Muslim

he didn’t know how to pray

he was the only one who didn’t know

and i was the son of the fake Muslim

then he gave me a book

and i read it

it was easy and pleasant

so i remember i started reading a lot

i remember myself

buying twice more books than my sister

on purpose

i remember myself waiting

for my father to kiss my head

saying to keep reading like this

i remember him saying

that he was proud of me

but to the others »

© Maryam al-Khasawneh