The always refreshing and amusing Idan Matalon takes a break from clip-syncing to have an intimate on-camera chat with his mother. ( In Hebrew with English subtitles).
No point going into the already widely distributed details but Anderson Cooper, CNN’s most prominent journalist and one of the world’s most recognizable personalities finally confirmed what many already took for granted.
Also, seeing as he is a journalist best known for fearlessness, integrity and honesty – that sort of blows views people in some quarters may have about gay people.
One in four LGBT kids are kicked out after coming out.
Eric Ethington of Pride in Utah (and all around cool guy) tells his moving story as part of the I’m From Driftwood Project.
Another interesting post from a Muslim. Thoughtful and practical views on being a queer person of Pakistani origin and his experience of , among other things, discrimination in dating based on color.
My small contribution to “It Gets Better.” A message for gay folk of color, South Asians, Pakistanis, and Muslims in the process of coming out 🙂
Don’t think I have seen another video directly addressing the concerns of young Arabs in the project. Visit his website here.
To ALL LGBT Arabs – there is absolutely nothing wrong with you! You are not sick, perverted, or freaks. You and me, we are just like anybody else. I’m a regular guy who simply happens to be gay – thats all. We are human and we deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. People may disagree, people may think we are sinful and thats fine. That is their issue. You and me, we are beautiful. It can get better and it will get better for LGBT Arabs!
Via Peter Galazka on G+
Anthony Sebastian Abrahamsen is all kinds of awesome. The message in English, Norwegian and Persian.
Fuck everyone else’s opinion indeed.
From his Tumblr blog.
Anthony Sebastian was the name I was given.
In Latin, it means; “Praiseworthy”.
In Greek, it means; “Flourishing”.
Sebastian, In Latin, it means; “Revered”
In Greek, it means; “Venerable”
Sure, you might think “…Who is he to say that life is difficult for gay people? How can HE even know what I am going through or have gone through?…”
This is my story of a boy living in the present World, being a victim of bullying, being Iranian, having Cystic Acne, being outed by friends and family AND being gay.
I’m originally from Iran, but was born and raised in Norway.
In the course of my upbringing, I changed cities that I was living in 5 times and in that period, learned 2 different languages and also 2 dialects spoken in this country.
During my upbringing, I didn’t have my father present. When Iran fell victim to the new Islamic Regime and a new Islamic Republic was born, my parents left with their children to give us the sense of hope and freedom that they, my parents, didn’t get or have in the country at that time.
As we were leaving Iran, the Government played a trick on him and refused him to leave the country. Nothing was wrong. All the papers were correct, all dates and stamps, arrangements and all were correct, but they didn’t want him to leave. This led him to not being able to see me walk for the first time, utter my first words, see me smile, laugh and just being alive for 6 years.
Think about it.
That’s nearly a decade.
As I was growing up, I felt the sense of something was different with me. This feeling that I was meant for greater things. To change things, to do something with my life. Also a sense of something magical, restless and terrifying. …I was falling in love with people… of the same gender as me…
I found out that I was “more special than other guys”, as I like to put it, when I was around the age of 4 or 5. I knew at a quite young age that I was different, my mind was different, I talked more mature than I should have. With all these things in mind, I knew that I wasn’t going to fit in properly with the rest of the community, society and even the world.
One funny fact about me was that I in the beginning fell in love with guys without even knowing the terms “sex”, “love”, or even “relationships”. I knew who I was before I even knew what it meant. I also began to think I might be bisexual, as I would look at girls as gorgeous and beautiful creatures, but not in a sexual way. That was really confusing at times, but I ultimately knew in the end, that I was indeed gay.
Some people find it odd or peculiar that I’m gay, and how I can like or even love my own gender more than just ordinary friends.
I tell them like I have always done; “...I don’t know… But I know one thing, and that is that I AM… I’m a human-being. Always have been and always will be. And what difference does it make? Does love know any boundaries? In this world divided, raged with hate, famine, bullshit-economy, does it REALLY matter who I love or not? Seriously, there are FAR worse things happening in the world. Direct your nose, eyes and your pointing finger in THAT direction!…”
And on that note…. one fact has always been historically proven; “…Sharing the world, accepting people for their diversity, difference of any kind, has never really been humanity’s defining attributes…”
One thing many people don’t know about me, is the fact that I have been bullied for 17 years.
17 years of pain, suffering, teasing, bullying, make you feel unwanted by the people around you, and that you aren’t allowed to live side-by-side other people. You are worthless.
The feeling of being terrified to go to school, to utter your words and your views on things, making friends, being social, making your own style, being YOU as you intend to live.
And for what?
Because you love in a totally different way. You think completely differently than other people.
People bullying you for who you are, the way you walk, the way you talk, watch, eat… you name it.
Growing up, I didn’t have any friends. I spent my days studying, reading books, listening to music, playing video-games that let me escape to a far away land where things were much better. My own safe bubble. Fantasy kept me alive. People that tried to be my friends ended up stabbing me in the back, humiliating me, join the people who were bullying me and pretty much making me hate the fact that I was alive, existed and a part of this World and Universe… because I was different from the rest of them. I was strange and not like everyone else. I had to be like everyone else to be accepted, as I was looked upon as being completely and utterly wrong. I wasn’t worthy of being alive.
Oh yeah, because of my Cystic Acne as well. I was bullied for mostly anything. Showing signs of being gay, taking an interest in stuff that people don’t really care about and for having Acne. Also who you are, the way you walk, the way you talk, watch, eat, like I mentioned earlier.
I remember especially how people pointed at me, making me think I have cancer on my face, that I was disgusting, contagious and that I was a bio-hazard.
After 17 years of non-stop bullying, I came to the point of total-meltdown. Depression caved in, everything turned dark and gloomy, no hope, no happiness, no feeling of wanting to live anymore. Using Roaccutane to combat my Cystic Acne, I became severely depressed, to the point of being a danger to myself. My skin would get burned by the slightest exposure to the Sun, my diet had to be changed drastically, Insomnia came into the picture, which would dominate my life several years ahead. I would get extremely sensitive skin, which would crack and bleed because of all the side-effects. I had some of the most gruesome and mind-blowing side-effects while using this medicine. .
I sat down, after 17 years, reflecting on my life. On how much I had lost because of this fear of being me, being the one that was supposed to be me and being the person that is and should exist, with the views, wisdom and thoughts. Not to mention having to fix my mind, body and spirit after that medication.
I chose to change my life entirely. Everything by me changed and it happened fast. Way fast. No more being depressed about being a bully-victim, having Acne, having used that medication etc.
The hair changed, the clothing-style changed, started working out at the gym, made my spine straight by working out from all the years I had been slumping, became more social and outgoing, giving people another chance to get to know me, learning to let go off old grudges and also learning not trusting people. Don’t get me wrong, trust as in expecting too much of certain people.
This also came handy when I started dating, and forming relationships with people. I, as many people out there, have also been in abusive relationships. But I never let it push or pull me down.
One thing I promised myself was to never become bitter. Ever. That’s why I gave it several chances, as I always work and look for ways to fix an issue. I don’t give up. I don’t know the word. It’s not in my vocabulary.
One thing I noticed throughout all my relationships in Norway, was that all of them had a problem of being seen with me, holding hands with me, talking with me, basically letting other people see me existing right next to them, in public. Me with black hair, brown eyes and showing attributes of being Middle-Eastern. Their friends would pour the hate from the moment they laid their eyes on me and I always asked myself what I had done to be treated this way. Racism, lies, hiding… the story goes on.
Knowing how painful such behavior was, I swore to never act like that to them, with them or around them, with my next partners.
It was funny to see how I had been at the low-point in my life, then fixed myself, only to be smashed down again with force for being none other than myself. Even funnier was how they would suddenly feel alone and out-of-place, when the kindness, love, warmth, caring, loving in such a powerful way that they had never experienced, presence and being one who wasn’t harsh or hateful, suddenly wasn’t a part of them anymore. I had the last laugh.
At the age of 23, I was even outed by my friends (I was weird, strange, a freak and inappropriate), straights (being gay isn’t always looked upon as a good thing. Girls might love it, but guys will frown and feel that they could “catch it from me”), the gay-community (70% answered in a survey that they couldn’t engage in a relationship with someone from the Middle-East) and even my family (I will never know exactly why this happened, but I have a strong feeling it was because of being gay and just being myself. Also having a brother-in-law that constantly spewed out hatred, hypocrisy, religious hypocrisy, negativity about anything and everyone, be it anything. My entire family was in a way smitten by this too. The drop-point came when he started harassing gay people and calling my phone “gay” and also constantly picking on the way I walk, talk, speak, eat and what I eat. He could chug down 24 cans of Red Bull’s, but me having a slice of bread with bread would be a sin, as I would die of Cardiac Arrest. Yup, hypocrisy at its worst).
That’s when I stopped up, and reminded myself to keep moving forwards, head up high, never backing down and that it would surely get better.
And it did! Finding new people, new friends, new family, new life and remembering what I held dear to my heart, but was pulled away from me because of various people. Everything came back and I got joy both through myself and others. Good people.
One quote I found a few years ago, was “Holding on to a grudge is like letting that person, that thing, that mind-set, that annoying chunk of blackness, live inside your head – RENT FREE!”, which helped a lot.
One thing I made sure, was to do what I needed to do, myself. I always told me myself;
“…If I don’t do this, no one will!…”
It’s kinda funny to look at old pictures of myself that people have taken of me and the pictures I have taken myself, and how I have changed. And I have really changed in many ways. Oh, so many ways.
But one thing that I absolutely made sure, was to make my place in this world. I wanted to use my experiences, thoughts and my views for the better for the people still scared of coming out of the closet. And to have ambitions, have goals and lift myself to higher grounds through education. Also to pay it forward. Why would I continue the dark spiral of hate and bullying, teasing, you name it, when I’ve been exposed to it? That spiral needs to stop, by educating other people and paying it forward.
I was determined to study Social Work, Social Pediatrics, Sexology (self-studying because of the fact that it’s extremely fascinating and interesting) and also many other subjects like Biblical Subjects, some Occupational Therapy and also settling for a full B.A in Social Work, having the other studies accompanying this degree and enabling me to specialize in various subjects. I sometimes wanted to study even more, much to people’s dismay. But I kept on going. I also vowed to learn at least a few new languages apart from what I speak right now and wanted it to make it to 5. I was told that I had a big imagination, but what I did was to realize that imagination.
When people get this information about me, they look at me in awe, wondering how I have survived, how I still smile and how they can’t see the effects of it on my face, my mind, the way I walk, talk and generally act.
See for yourself… look at my pictures on Twitter, my blog, all the other sites. Can you see anything? Any hint of me having experienced this?
I smile, laugh, socialize with people, go out and meet new people, even though I have had this hell in my past. Life will go on, as they say, and it did.
Determination and willingness are the key to moving forward.
And I live by it everyday.
Every single day of my life I have that saying in my head, guiding me through life, making me do things people told me I couldn’t do or achieve, going the extra mile and getting to new places in life, where people told me I couldn’t reach.
That’s probably why people don’t see my past on my face or in me generally. I learned and grew from the experiences. I didn’t let the darkness get to me. I knew I had to fight back up to the surface and make something with my life. I smile everyday and don’t look at my past as something horrific and wanting to forget about it, but allowing it to learn me to see the world different. Taking each day as something glorious. Something good. Appreciate everything and anything of the day. Even the small joys of life.
Believe me… I have had to endure Cystic Acne, being gay, shunned out of the community for the way you think, you are, because of your black hair and been referenced to being a terrorist because of having it (yeah, I know… W T F ? !), been bullied for 17 years, experienced war and cruelty.
At times, I have literally screamed out;
“…OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE! HAVEN’T I HAD ENOUGH?!
HAVEN’T I ENDURED ENOUGH PAIN?!
WHY MUST I BE THE ONE TO GET THIS TREATMENT?!
WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS?!
The most surprising thing was that even though I was under this constant stress of dealing with this, I kept my will to finish up my studies and swore to myself that I was going to become something. I looked at those people and told myself “…One day… One… day… I’m going to become something successful…”
And that I became.
Come to think of it, I don’t see the world any different from other people. When people get freaked out by my lifestyle, I tell them; “…I’m just like any other guy or person in the world… I just happen to see things differently through my eyes…”
I am just like any other guy in the world. The person you happen to randomly see in the streets when you walk to the store, the movies or just sitting on the subway. Remember, I’m still a human-being.
And when I look back at the same people that had made me and gave me this personalized living hell, I pity them.
The once great feeling of great pleasure and dominating will over other people soon washed away and replaced them with nothing. No happiness on their faces, no future in their hands and people hating them even more. The once proud and dominating people are now the ones drifting in the streets and doing absolutely nothing. Pitiful lives. I pity them, I really do. Must be really lonely having to act in such a way and getting off on the idea of making other peoples lives a living hell, only to make their own more enjoyable.
See? It doesn’t pay to bully, now does it?
And a message to those of you who are bullying;
Please stop. Do you really want to hurt people? Do you want to carry the thought that you ruined peoples lives? That you ruined a perfectly well-working human-being and and derived them the chance to live a normal life? Come to think of it, have you asked yourself what the hell they have done to YOU?
If this is your funny sense of humor, your hobby or a favorite past-time, I suggest you getting a new one. You are hurting people. You are killing the very essence of their being and making them feel sad and making them hate themselves because of who they are, what they are and their place in this world.
Therefore, be strong, keep your chin up and live your life. To the max. Keep your chin UP and your jackasses DOWN.
I have experienced it all and I’m saying this out of experience. If I could survive this, you can too.
Believe me when I say this… you can.
Even though I can’t see you in person, shake your hand, pat you on you shoulder, trust me… you can.
Never stop loving yourself, never stop looking upwards. And forwards.
Take care of yourself.
Things will be better for you in the future.
Work hard in achieving the things you want in this life-time.
Nothing is impossible. Nothing.
Have the will to dream big and make it big.
This is your world too, and you are allowed to live in it. Just as much as the next person. You’re not an exception. You are allowed to live and live you will do.
Be who you are. Smile, Laugh, Live and Love!
Fuck everybody else’s opinion!
This really interesting ( and brave) US soldier had a fairly easy coming out to his father on the phone before but his Mom was a bit of a challenge – including the old Adam and Steve thing. I am reading the South African novel Moffie now so his reactions really resonate.
“There’s nobody in this world who is any better than me Mom.”