Like a Mango Tree in Alaska

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- The piercing, the hair, the clothes… Who do you remind me of? Your style reminds me of someone, she keeps telling herself, like it’s a rhetorical question for me! Eh, eh, I remember. I remember. Lesbians. You look like a lesbian! (W ka2anna ktashafit l baroud.)

I freaked out. (Nshamasna! Iza heyeh 3erfe, ya3ne l kel 3erfin, w iza l kel 3erfin, ya3ne my sexual orientation was discussed in this same room 3ala jalsit manicure w ahwe ba3ed l mousalsal l terke moubasharatan!)

An awkward moment of silence went by, as I was sitting in my dorm with a dorm-mate for our usual late night ciggy. Then she grabbed me out of the closet by the hair!

Okay, I tell myself, breathe in breathe out. DENY. DENY. DENY.

Just as much as I wanted to tell her, yes, I was gay, my logic interfered: No, don’t do it. Come up with a lie. Come up with a lie. I can tell her I’m half Greek. LOL. The hilarious illogical shit we come up with lamma nen7ashar bel zewye. Half Greek, what was I thinking anyway?

Here we go again, the usual ceremony of schizophrenia and self-conversations whenever I have to come out to someone or lie myself back into the closet.

Time to reply: Well, it’s weird that you ask. I do have lesbian friends, you know. It’s a free world, but I don’t think I’m a lesbian, at least not as far as I know. I have a boyfriend, 4 years now -”came up with a name.” His name was from another religion. (Al fetna wa sor3at al badiha w bakalna l kezbe min kel l maylet.) Yo2borne, we are so in love. So she deduced why I didn’t talk about him much. To people like her, it’s a taboo to love someone from another religion. So what about someone from the same sex?!

Phew, zamatna. Shockingly she bought the lie, and suggested that I wear less Converse and more high heals! (Ma3 touli l fare3.) And she thought I’d look pretty in earrings. (Ouch, my ears.) Never mind the usual process of society suffocating gender identities and shoving stereotypes down our throats.

But as I go to bed, head down, the devil on my right shoulder makes fun of me:

- 3emeltile 7alik inte l activist w out, wel ossa kella and then you chicken out in front of that girl! Seriously, what will she do? Tell your family? They already know.

- Allow me to analyze myself, will you?

Girls in dorms have girl talks. If she knows, it’ll spread out, the other nine girls will know, and it will make them uncomfy, since most of them get out of the shower half-naked, passing by my room, or every time one of them buys a new pair of jeans, and asks you to check out how H.O.T. their ass is in it. And believe me, when they buy lingerie, we all should know about it and see it. And if you weren’t in the room, they would knock on your door for the runway demonstration! And don’t get me started on pajamas in summer, discussing waxing and Bikini lines, and tanning on the balcony!

I didn’t really care about losing the privilege of seeing all the afore mentioned, but this atmosphere of female-to-female comfort zone is tricky, and I knew that by coming out, I would’ve opened a huge door to gossip, paranoia, and anxiety that I could do without. To make things worse, my landlord was a mean old lady and she could simply kick me out. Homophobia wasla lal rekab.

Ya laylit l sawda elli ma fiya nom. Khalas, forgive yourself. It’s for everybody’s sake.

I forgave myself, and tried to move on, even though the girl didn’t let me. Everyday we met for a cigarette before bed in the living room, she’d ask me about the boyfriend (she called him by his name) and it would take me 3 minutes to remember who that guy was! Sometimes I’d even want to tell her I didn’t know anyone by his name, but then I’d remember. And sometimes, while talking on the landline phone with my partner, I’d have to pretend she was a boy, which was very fun for us and we laughed a lot about it.

It took me some time to get over it. But in the end, the comfort zone dynamics weren’t touched. I was feeling safer as a hetero person around hetero women, because I couldn’t begin to imagine how weird and how much of a headache it would be if I actually came out.

You might laugh at it sometimes, and it might piss you off some other times, but it’s a fact that hetero people are privileged compared to us. There’s always the assumption that everybody is born straight and if you’re gay, then something went wrong. This privilege wouldn’t have existed if there were laws to protect us. We wouldn’t be so afraid of social stigma. We wouldn’t have to get more creative with chasing our shadow, one lie after the other. But we’re like a mango tree in Alaska. We’re extraterrestrials and out of context. And all this is just because yiiii, we are lesbians!

- Contributed by RED

Guest Contributor

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