In Part One of his story, our author describes his experiences as a Muslim man coming to terms with his homosexuality, dating and the gay scene. In the final chapter we find out more detail of our author’s relationships as well as an incident that he shamefully regrets which was the result of his previous dating experiences.
A few weeks later, I met someone else. We connected over our shared interest in spirituality. It also helped that he was extremely handsome but jaded by my previous experiences, I couldn’t understand why he was interested in me. We hung out, got along and got intimate and it was nice and the attention made me feel special. Obviously, there had to be a catch. He was an escort. While I don’t judge him for his choices, I couldn’t imagine myself being in anything but a monogamous relationship so I ended it.
A few months later I met someone again. By now, I had completely given up hope of dating someone but when it happened, I thought I should have an open mind. We went out for a few weeks and seemed to get along well but then he decided to break things off as I wasn’t “gay enough” for him. I still don’t understand what that means because for me as a man who’s attracted to other men and sees myself in a relationship with a man, that is what being gay is about. What it meant for him though was that I didn’t frequent the scene and he felt that if things became serious then he would never be able to meet my family. I can understand the latter but in retrospect it also showed a lack of empathy. My family comes from and still lives in a very conservative part of the world, which has no understanding of what it means to be gay. Homosexuality as it exists in Muslim cultures currently is not about orientation but sex. In addition, if you’re doing something that is not acceptable to the mainstream, the idea is to do it within the privacy of your home and not publicise it. This is also a culture where even admission of heterosexual pre-marital sex is disapproved so me coming out might not only mean complete rejection but also possibly assault (as has happened to someone I know by their father when he came out). Explaining my orientation and getting them to understand it requires time and patience. While I’m not there yet, I think by slowly coming out to people from my own generation I have made progress and allies for when I inevitably come out to them.
These recent dating experiences had left me distraught and emotionally exhausted. I had also drifted apart from several close friends, and was caring for some other friends who within a few months of each other had lost a loved one. Having no one else to speak to and feeling quite lonely and depressed, I slipped up and found an unhealthy outlet. I still can’t understand how it even happened but I created a fake profile on Grindr to find an escape. It’s too uncomfortable for me to even admit but all the loneliness helped me create an alternative reality quite easily, which I was easily able to sell to others on Grindr. Most of it was nothing more than harmless flirting; but there was one exception. As I admit to this, I am almost in tears. I started chatting with this amazing guy, N.T. and we connected over our love of Trance music. I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s so funny, kind and incredibly sweet that my alter ego and him became good friends. I could just unwind, joke and be someone else that I conveniently forgot that this would only cause both him and I pain in the long term.
However, as time went on I couldn’t ignore what I was doing. It was out of character, unhealthy and disgusted me because I was deceiving someone the same way I had been deceived. I sought professional help and it was suggested that instead of telling the truth, I disappear. But my sense of accountability prevailed and I finally came clean to him. Even in his anger and disappointment he was so kind and gracious to me and he listened to me as I tried to rationalise and explain my behaviour.
This is why I have such a heavy heart right now. If I had been less lonely and had the courage to be more open, I probably wouldn’t have done this. Writing this is my way of trying to articulate and explain to him what happened. N.T., I am so sorry that in my desire to forget my problems for a while, I lied to you and hurt you. You’re one of the few gay guys who made me feel like I was more than just my background and while I disappointed you, talking to you made me so happy and allowed me to share our love of music, be lighthearted, funny and laugh again. I can’t thank you enough for that. It couldn’t be more bittersweet and ironic that as you lifted my spirits, I damaged yours.
Sharing my story is also a request to gay culture to be a little more understanding and less harsh on its minorities. Yes, there are people who don’t fit your perceptions but they’re a minority within a minority. After dealing with cultures, which reject them for lack of understanding or tolerance, when they face another blow in what they assume is a safe haven damages their self worth even more.
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Thank you so much for your honesty – I too have this feeling of being a minority within a minority, and it is tempting to just create an alternative persona and escape through it rather than deal with what is :-/.
I’m very surprised how similar I find these two stories comparing to my life. I am also of an orthodox Muslim background who have never imagined that same-sex love would be possible (even I didn’t imagine that until my early teens). I also moved to a western-culture country to university and faced the same difficulty relating myself with the gay people due to my ethnic and religious minority. Fortunately, I made some good friends that are supportive and some of my family members know about me. The reactions were exactly the same: my family, though not so supportive, is admirable because they are trying to understand my side, and my friends don’t understand my need on such secrecy even living away from my home country.
I also feel very lonely from time to time and easily have alter egos in chat rooms, but they never evolve. I’ve also questioned myself on why do I only have short successful relationships. But this time, I don’t think it’s a racial or religious matter, I believe it’s a more person-to-person incompatibility concern.
However, it was very pleasing to know there’s someone who shares such a common story background to mine, even though we are from very different parts of the world 🙂