A Beautiful Encounter

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Yesterday, I was at the airport looking at the arrival screen; my friend’s plane had just landed and he was about to come out.

A nice lady holding a red rose came towards me.

“Bonsoir,” she said.

“Bonsoir.” I was expecting her to ask me if the Lufthansa passengers had come out yet.

“I saw you on TV.”


“I am waiting for a friend. I saw you, and I wanted to talk to you… I really appreciate the work Helem is doing.”

“Thank you, that is really sweet and encouraging.”

After a short awkward silence, she continued: “Do you want to know why I like your work?”


“Because my son is gay.”

Not knowing how to reply, I just smiled, probably because I did not expect to have this conversation there, and at the airport out of all places.

That was not a hindrance, however. She went on, “When he first told me, my first reaction was to tell him it was okay, that he was my son and that I accepted him. But then I went through phases of sadness, followed by anger, which eventually led to my getting really sick. To top it off, my best friend stopped talking to me when she knew my son was gay. These were two shocks in a short period of time. I saw a psychologist to help me get over this. He was really helpful; he told me about Helem, and I spent a lot of time reading on the internet about homosexuality. I was too afraid to go to Helem because I did not want anyone to know about my son. At some point though, I finally called Helem’s hotline, and I met with the social worker in a coffee shop. He gave me a booklet, Ou7ebohom wa Lakin…” It was helpful” [...] “You will probably laugh at me, but I stood outside a gay bar once, and outside Zicco House another time when Helem was organizing a party; I wanted to see how gay people looked.”

We both laughed, but it was such a sweet and genuine thing to say.

She was feeling more at ease, and she said the next bit with a smile on her face: “At that time, I said to myself: You drink like everyone else, you have fun like everyone else, and you look like everyone else…”

I did not want to say anything; I was enjoying this beautiful monologue and I did not want her to stop, but I was curious, and I asked her, “So how do you feel about it now?”

“Oh, I love my son, and I want him to be happy. Of course, I wish he would have children, he is my only son…”

She was quiet and looked thoughtful for about ten seconds, then decided, “You know what? I don’t care. Who said success is about having children? He is a successful [...], I am proud of what he has achieved, and he will probably adopt a child with his boyfriend… I don’t know, I have heard about successful gay artists, scientists, fashion designers, and my son is one of those people… I still wouldn’t want the rest of the family to know that he is gay though – not because I am ashamed, but because they are not educated, they are stupid – here she laughs – why would I waste my time trying to explain to them, they are not bothering my son…”

At that moment, my friend arrived, and the conversation was interrupted. She gave me a big hug and her phone number. “Please let me know if there is any mother who needs help or support. I am willing to do it.”

It is moments like these where one feels how inspirational the will to never give up the fight is. It was such a precious moment which I honestly never expected to have while waiting at the Beirut International Airport.

- Contributed by Georges Azzi

Guest Contributor

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