What Made Me Who I Am Today

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I was thinking all night, trying to pick which part of my life or which story would be best to share with you. I wanted to find the best one to highlight my coming out process or present my sexuality. Flipping through all the memories, I really couldn’t find a single one that popped out, one memory that could explain it all. I couldn’t squeeze the 22-year-old process in one event, one wink, one attraction, one orgasm, or even one heartbreak. All the small details mattered, all the minor and major events were connected, all of it made me who I am today.

So instead of writing a few paragraphs about my life, I thought this would be an unconventional but better way to present my story.

Note: The asterisk (*) refers to probable gay flags.

Age 1: I’ve been told that I was a happy and cheerful kid.

Age 2: My sister was born. I lost my spot light.*

Age 6 or 7: I saw my first tiny penis.*

Age 8: I saw another four tiny penises. I wondered why all my friends had “this thing” and I didn’t. But it didn’t really bother me. I didn’t mind being different.*

Age 11: I saw my first girl-on-girl porn at camp. Something inside me went ecstatically happy. I couldn’t explain or understand why (aka Yay!).*

Also, I accidently discovered the joy of masturbation.

Age 12: I fell madly in love with the school librarian. With her tall, slim body, light skin, perfectly symmetrical brown curls and green eyes, she was a beauty. It was the first time I knew my heart could beat that fast and that I can get so sick in my stomach when I’m around someone I like. (In my case, it was not that peaceful and beautiful so why call it “butterflies.”)

Age 12.5: First time I cut my hair real short. After all, how could I be a girl and fall in love with a woman? It was the first time I heard the word Lesbian or even knew that such term existed (Another Yay! moment), thanks to my boyfriend at the time.

Age 13: First betrayal. Even though my first love, the librarian, was welcoming of my affection and allowed me to spend a lot of extra time with her at the library, she wasn’t able to handle all of my romance. After a few bunches of red roses and a couple of CDs full of love songs delivered to her door steps, she decided it was too much madness. She told my parents about my romantic endeavors. As a result I was transferred to another school. [I was in an all-girls catholic school]*****

This was the first time I hit rock bottom. I was devastated and it took me years to recover. Till this day, my heart skips a beat whenever I enter a library.

Age 14: I transferred to a mixed school, where the girls made me grow my hair and the guys wanted to date. It was the cool and popular thing to do, so ma 2asaret. I shuffled 15-20 boyfriends within 4 years. (I didn’t sleep with any, just in case your mind was wondering.)

Age 15-17: I lost myself in a messy negative love affair.* It damaged my self-esteem. Started conforming to mom’s demands and guilt trips. I admit there was some sense of peace in following and never questioning. But it was a matter of time before I could remember that this wasn’t me.

Age 17: I Moved to San Francisco to get my B.S. I was still lost and got even more lost in a new culture. It was my first time away from home and out of my comfort zone. It was an eye-opening experience but involved a lot of pain.

Age18-20: I unconsciously stopped dating guys and cut my hair short again. Was harassed and called a lesbian by my co-workers and classmates but I actually enjoyed it. I didn’t feel the urge to deny it. Nor did I have to go through the stress of coming out to them. They had already guessed right!

Age 20: The end of my 20th year was the product of all the years that passed. I knew that I was interested in women and intrigued by their beauty, but now it really started to sink in. The many crushes on my teachers and friends couldn’t be just casual feelings. I was so lost, so confused. I got depressed, ate more, drank more alcohol, got sadder, ate more, smoked more, got more depressed, got fatter, got upset at myself for getting fatter, ate more, drank more and more, got more and more mad at myself, got more and more depressed, lost all communication with myself, with my soul and my body. I was coming out to myself. I hit my second rock bottom, until my sister moved to the US.

Age 21: I started to get to know my sister. I started to tell her about my feelings and confusions. I started to feel better but got her stressed. So we decided that she wasn’t able to help anymore and it was time to seek therapy. [If it wasn’t for my sister, I wouldn’t be who am here today. Thank you for being my patient and accepting older sister even though you were born 2 years after me.] I went to an awesome therapist willingly wanting to understand and know myself better. With her tremendous help, I started the never-ending process of knowing and understanding myself.

Age 21.5: I graduated from University and decided that I was, at this point of my life, were I should be able to comfortably share the truth of my sexuality with my “modern, educated and seemingly open minded and accepting” parents. So I “came out” to my mom while she was visiting me in the US. She immediately called my dad in Palestine. They both decided that I must return home. Guess, why? To see a priest! My mom, the atheist, wanted me to see a priest! She believed that he would be able to un-gay me! Shocked by the reaction, I made up an imaginary woman that I was in love with, broke up with her, told my mom that I talked to my therapist about it and that I’m OK. Even though I’m proud of myself for at least trying to “plant a seed,” if I were to do it again, I don’t think I would come out at this young age/early stage.

Now: As of today, I feel blessed that when I look back, I can only remember the events but not the pain. I’m proud I was able to walk through life’s obstacles and come out alive. I know that I am a politically ignorant Palestinian eager to learn. I am a newly activated activist. I am a woman who happens to fall in love with beautiful women and no longer the kid with short hair. I am a 95.3% – sexually inert – lesbian because I’m currently talking to an 85% heterosexual woman who thinks “I’m cute.

For now, I have achieved my own unique balance but I can’t wait to see what colors of the rainbow my future holds.

- Contributed by SuQun el Leil

SuQun el Leil

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