What it’s like to be gay and Qatari

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Ameer Abdul Razak/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

NOTE: Doha News is aware that any extra-marital affairs in Qatar are illegal, and we do not advocate breaking the law. It seems that many people are upset about this post because it shares a view they do not agree with.

Please understand that our intention is simply to foster communication, and the opinion piece is the view of one person who wanted to share what it’s like to be gay in Qatar.

Following a shooting at a gay nightclub in the US earlier this year, a young Qatari man named Majid (not his real name) said he was horrified to hear comments from his community about how the victims deserved their demise.

Here, he writes about the challenges of being gay in Qatar, and pleads for society’s tolerance.

Homosexuality is so taboo in Qatar that it doesn’t feature in public discourse, yet practically it very much exists.

Being gay is frowned upon here, and a lot of people have this hate and anti-homosexual sentiment.

But it’s complicated.

I know of someone who has very homophobic views and is vocal in sharing these on social media. He is over-zealous in his views about his sexuality, even though he is gay. To deal with this, he travels – going to other countries to live out his reality.

In Qatar, people who are gay can hide behind a veneer of extreme homophobic culture because it makes them safe from public scrutiny.

Even those who are not very devout, practicing Muslims believe that someone like me has decided to be the way I am – they think this is not the way I have been born.

Not a choice

There’s a belief in our culture that you choose to be gay. People don’t believe that it’s nature, they believe that it’s nurture. It must be because you were around too many girls, or you didn’t have a male archetype in your life, they say.

It is a real problem in this patriarchal, male, testosterone-driven society.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

torbakhopper/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

They don’t believe it is physiological. They think that as long as you choose to be with a woman and procreate, then you can become straight, you can “turn off” your homosexuality.

There are also people who say homosexuality is a Western invention and influence. But this isn’t a creeping, loosening of our values – homosexuality has always been there.

After the news of the Orlando gay club shooting, and reports came out that a Muslim bouncer saved people, some of the comments on social media were appalling.

Scene of Orlando shooting

Orlando Police/Twitter

Scene of Orlando shooting

People were saying they all deserved to die – they should have died and done humanity a favor. They called them “God’s cursed people.”

There were comments saying we should all have been shot, or put on an island and set on fire.

I always knew that people felt this way, but it was only after this that I felt strongly that people really wanted to kill people like me, and that this is an accepted attitude.

After these comments, I have become even more fearful of people knowing about me. We are seen as fair game.

No future

It is very jarring living here, it is traumatizing to see that you are the cause of your parents’ anguish, that you are shaming your family. It is a constant onslaught, and it is killing me.

It has caused irreparable damage to my mental health. I wouldn’t have chosen to have been born in a place where my life is tantamount to my death. There is no prospect or future for me here – no normalcy.

What are my choices? Should all of us gay Qataris emigrate?

I have thought of that, but this is my home country. I love my country and I am proud of it, and I don’t have anywhere else to go. If I left, it would feel like being cast away.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Rimoh Jacob/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

People also think you can just get married and have children and it all changes, that we will be cured and saved.

But what’s the point of living that way, of living a lie?

Pursuing a lasting relationship with a man is also not an option. These relationships have a shelf life, because one party will ultimately want to get married to a woman.

That’s the expectation and you don’t ever believe you two will have any sort of future. There is an expiration date on it all. And this relationship, if it does happen, will always be in the shadows.

Magic pill

We don’t want to cause public dissent, we don’t want to cause more damage, hurt or pain, but I feel like my country hates me.

We are not a birth defect, which is what has been said to me so many times. Nothing happened to me to make me gay and I didn’t choose this.

If I had a choice, if there was a magic pill I could take to make me straight, then I would take it. I don’t want the misery of this life.

I am in constant turmoil and anguish – how do I reconcile who I am with my faith that says I shouldn’t exist? I am the worst of the worst, I am vermin.

For illustrative purposes only.

Xavier Vergés/Flickr

For illustrative purposes only.

I have been so fearful in writing this, but I have had enough.

I have had this extreme sense of hopelessness – how do I forge a path to keep going in my life? What life is here for me? What is life for any of us here, who don’t want to live in deception by getting married?

Many gay people aren’t against doing this – getting married and having kids. They put a Band-aid on a wound. The wife will get conjugal visits and the men will just go their own way.

I don’t wish to impose anything on anyone, but I also don’t want to live with paranoia and I don’t want to feel like a birth defect.

I don’t want to raise the rainbow flag from the roof – I don’t see that compatible with this country. But we need to find our own way.

I want people to accept us. Live and let live – you don’t have to like me but you don’t have to persecute me.

Thoughts?


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this Opinion article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Doha News’ editorial policy.

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