“Is Yosef . . . gay?” My dad might barely choke out the phrase “gay” in a low, embarrassed whisper when he requested me. For years, my older brother had been combating an emotional proxy warfare with our dad. This time, as an alternative of addressing childhood abuse inflicted on him that was not but processed, he asserted gayness to insurgent towards and anger our conservative Muslim father. Whereas I am unable to converse to the depth of authenticity in my brother’s presentation of sexuality, the expertise of witnessing my complete household reject and condemn him for it ignited deep worry in me.
I prayed with nice conviction to no matter god was listening: “Please, please do not make me homosexual or give me most cancers. I am simply not robust sufficient.”
Understanding that queerness may very well be used as fodder to create battle within the already very dysfunctional unit that’s my household — I shrank. I prayed with nice conviction to no matter god was listening: “Please, please do not make me homosexual or give me most cancers. I am simply not robust sufficient.”
Seven years later, I used to be recognized with thyroid most cancers at 26. The summer season earlier than my second yr of graduate college I used to be doing fieldwork in Lebanon when one morning, I seen a marble-sized protrusion protruding from the left facet of my neck. It anxious me, as a result of as my high-school anatomy trainer would typically preach: “Asymmetry is harmful.” However I used to be operating late to a gathering and assumed I used to be too younger for it to be something severe. By the tip of the summer season, I used to be sleeping near 18 hours a day. I might barely get myself away from bed. I wrote it off as despair and pushed myself even tougher to regain management over my physique as I felt it progressively slip from my grasp. Just a few months later, I bought my ever-growing marble biopsied, and was recognized in my final semester of graduate college.
I used to be terrified. I understood most cancers to be an imminent dying sentence in each case besides the flicks: like in 50/50 when Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character is recognized with schwannoma neurofibrosarcoma, an especially uncommon kind of most cancers discovered within the backbone that is recognized to have a 50 p.c survival price. Him dwelling to see remission regardless of the chances did nothing to create hope in me. In fact he lived: he is fictional and white. I am actual and as brown as Yogi Bear, which additionally translated to restricted entry to high quality care and sometimes getting hit with insurance coverage premiums that pressured me to work all through everything of my remedy.
Why did I’ve to cope with the magnitude of my humanity so early in life? Why did I’ve but one other factor standing in the way in which of my happiness?
My day by day schedule typically regarded like: get up at 4:45 a.m., pray, get able to go to the hospital for blood assessments, head to work my 9-to-5 job, after which class till 9 p.m. to make sure I might end my grasp’s diploma as scheduled. I felt trapped at work and faculty because of the abysmal monetary realities of what taking go away from both would imply for no matter future waited for me on the opposite facet of this expertise. It goes with out saying that I used to be in denial and avoiding the cocktail of ache, confusion, and resentment brewing in me that was too overwhelming to acknowledge. Why did I’ve to cope with the magnitude of my humanity so early in life? Why did I’ve but one other factor standing in the way in which of my happiness? With every passing day, I cared much less and fewer about myself and the duties instantly in entrance of me. I used to be spiraling and desperately dissociating from the physique that I felt betrayed me.
I could not inform you precisely the way it occurred, however someplace between all of the medical doctors, academia, and weed that I smoked to numb myself to every part, I noticed the seed of worry planted deep in me was rooted within the condemnation of queerness that I witnessed all these years in the past. I saved questioning: How might I probably die with out ever falling in love? I do not imply pet love. I imply spirit-altering, trustworthy, I virtually cannot stand how I really feel about you form of love. All through my remedy, I grew to become aware of the truth that up till then I had by no means been in a wholesome romantic relationship that did not hinge on my efficiency as a femme lady. I made a decision that if I conquered most cancers, I needed to dare myself to expertise one thing deeper than Bridget Jones love, however far simpler than When Harry Met Sally.
Getting comfy with queerness has been a challenge a few years within the making for me, however going by way of one thing so severe early in my life instilled a way of urgency in me that I wanted to be trustworthy about my sexuality. I had no selection however to overcome my well being problems, and the arrogance I gained from realizing that I used to be greater than robust sufficient to cope with one thing I feared greater than something allowed me to relinquish worry of my household disowning me, and prioritize myself in actual time. I really like my household, but when they can not love me for who I’m in totality, that claims extra about them than me. I’ll by no means perceive why I needed to be so afraid of my attraction to and need for girls? Like, significantly: I nonetheless do not get it!
The extra I’ve grown into areas the place fellow queer Muslims exist, the extra I relinquish any fallacy that I am an unlovable oddity.
I perceive now that it is not that I wasn’t robust sufficient: it is that I did not have the appropriate help system to like me simply as I’m. Opposite to what Western media will preach, Muslims aren’t inherently judgmental and our faith doesn’t explicitly condemn queerness. Like most issues in a sacred textual content, loads relies on private interpretation. In my day-to-day, I’m empowered most by doing what my household was incapable of modeling for me: bridging the hole between queer and Muslim identities utilizing radical love. The extra I’ve grown into areas the place fellow queer Muslims exist, the extra I relinquish any fallacy that I am an unlovable oddity. If my chosen household are people whom I maintain within the highest esteem and I imagine deserve love, help, and recognition, then why cannot I be included amongst them as simply as deserving?
Radically loving myself within the aftermath of my prognosis has meant making certain I declare as a lot love as I give to others.
Picture Supply: Mona Hassan