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Homosexuality within the Arab world may be a topic so volatile that in some countries death is the penalty. yet gradually and really cautiously gay Arabs are coming out of the closet with increasing confidence. Spanning across 22 countries with a combined population of 323 million, the Arab world is not solely connected through its language but is additionally linked through various gay Arab websites, chat rooms, and blogs.

However, for gay Arab Americans, despite the fact that they live with much bigger personal freedoms they often still notice themselves conflicted between their sexual, religious, ethnic/cultural and national identities. Meet Issam Khoury of Washington, DC and Ramy Eletreby of l. a. . They both are gay Arab men however every with a totally different path and background. but both men have a noteworthy clarity and an agreement on the crucial problems which impact them the most.

Issam Khoury

A refugee by birth and by war, Issam Khoury has seen and experienced a broad cross-section of the world. both of his oldsters were born and raised in Palestine however attributable to the politics surrounding the Israeli occupation, Issam was forced to be born and raised in Kuwait until the age of 13. "I learned what it meant to show a discrepancy in being in Kuwait because as a non Kuwait you are continuously perceived different" he explains.

But when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Issam's family was forced to live in Cypress where Issam finished his schooling. once more he felt the unspoken words and perception of being different in another country.

As a youth Issam began to become additional awake to his burgeoning homosexuality. "I invariably knew i was attracted to men. I knew from the times once I was living in Kuwait which to me debunks the myth that several Arabs would love to have that this does not exist in our a part of the planet as a result of it does. when I moved to Cypress in 95' I found myself turning into sexually active and that is how I knew that this was here to stay" he reveals.

Issam later attended school in the US, first graduating from Virginia Tech, then onward to Ohio State to earn a masters degree and then forward to yankee University where he's currently earning a doctorate in cultural studies.

He admits that it wasn't till school that he started to become fully awake to his identity as an "outwardly gay man and not somebody who engages in sex with alternative men" he explains. In some ways his faculty years helped him to adopt a holistic identity that was associated with his sexual orientation, but this was only the primary step.

He reveals that his journey still was "very tough as a result of I actually have no examples i don't have any James Baldwin's we don't have any Gloria Anzaldua's, we don't have any of these within the Arab community. There are gay folks out there and they're out and they're proud, however they are doing not write, they do not represent, they need not laid the muse for a community within the same means that yank ethnic communities have had on varying levels."

As a result, Issam found nurturing support inside the African american community adding that he was "adopted" by many black people and that "in the black community...I found my identity as a person of color.

I really found my identity as a gay man of color through reading E. Lynn Harris. I found it inspiring to examine men of color loving other men and color. I found my identity and what it could be to be in an exceedingly relationship with another man of color and how beautiful that could be and how celebrated that might be without having to be ashamed of it."

In terms of his Arab identity, Issam says that he found his Arabic-self through his masters degree program at Ohio State where he studied Arab literature. He openly admits that he had a "big aversion" to white people when being called a "sand nigger, camel jockey, and towel head" throughout his college years. so this new academic program gave him both affirmation and confirmation of who he really was, so casting away all labels and stereotypes.

"It was in my masters program that I found myself as an Arab man" he proudly states. However, the reconciliation of being Arab, Gay and Christian was still a protracted, arduous and complicated process. once commencing to his oldsters, he we tend to went into the closet for 6 years.

"It took chat for arabs plenty of internal work for me to merge my Arabic and my gay identities. It took plenty of soul searching, it took plenty of research; delving into the issue of Arabic and gay however it's extremely slow. we've lots issues of pride in Arabic community and pride is related to family honor and if someone is gay then you shame family honor and therefore these problems aren't widely talked about however mentioned in closed circles" he shares.

Because of his journey of transformation and reconciliation Issam determined to enroll in a cultural studies doctoral program because he recognized that he belonged to too several diverse groups to limit himself to merely one identity or concentration. "The u. s. thrives on identity politics; it is the capital of what I decision the check box on the application because you usually got to be something you usually ought to be categorized as something."

Further, Issam's own diversity and his desire to find out regarding the diversity of others led him out of his personal check box. he is a member of a black fraternity and is currently learning to talk Spanish, all in a trial to broaden his exposure and understanding of culture and variety.

Ramy Eletreby

Born and raised in sunny Southern California behind the conservative and affluent curtain of Orange County, Ramy Eletreby, who is of Egyptian descent, grew up the youngest of 3 kids. while both of his parents were born and raised in Egypt, Ramy's perspective has a distinct yank flair. He says that he was raised "conservative and Muslim" and that his upbringing has helped shaped him to where he is today.

Ramy's gay awakening truly began around the age of fifteen. He remembers attending a play in los angeles that targeted around boxing. during a locker area scene, one amongst the boxers really showered on stage. it had been Ramy's initial time seeing a unadorned man.

"I was flustered and blushing and every one that stuff and i just knew that if I had a reaction like that it should mean one thing. I never had such a strong reaction of anybody like that. I could not avert my eyes however deep down I knew I shouldn't be enjoying it."

Interestingly enough, Ramy didn't act out sexually on his urges. Instead he went through a personal journey seeking to reconcile his sexuality together with his Muslim beliefs. "I went through plenty of self exploration, plenty queries, and lots of confusion" he explains.

Similar to Arabic chat the trail of many other gays, Ramy eventually mustered up enough courage to begin beginning to his friends. when an eight year period he had take off to simply concerning everyone in his life with the exception of his circle of relatives, however that was getting ready to amendment in a very public approach within the summer of 2005.

A budding actor, Ramy decided to just accept a task at a Hollywood theater portraying a gay Arab. however certain Arab community groups realized of the play and its gay content and commenced to protest. Meanwhile the LA Times bloodhounds sniffed out the story and surrounded down playhouse to try and do what eventually became a significant news story about the play, its gay content, the controversy, and also the incontrovertible fact that its lead actor, Ramy was a gay man.

When the story hit, Ramy estimates it took four individuals reading it before the news was promptly delivered to his folks. extra attention came when Advocate Magazine conjointly did an expansion on him. it was a particularly stressful and an emotionally raw time for him, but today he's out to everyone and living his life authentically.

And after a few years of wrestling with each his spirituality and his sexuality, Ramy has finally found the peace that he is been finding out since he was fifteen. "I've just come back to the conclusion that not everything is ideal. This religion that i used to be raised in is not perfect" he explains. He adds that people who subscribe to a non secular belief system should "apply but much you'll be able to apply to your life and since i know I cannot change sure facts regarding who i am....if i select to possess a faith like Islam it has to be as much as I can take of it."

Today Ramy Arab chat works for a gay publication in los angeles where he says it has helped him to search out his gay identity. However, he sees no back and forth competing of his multiple identities of being gay, Arab, and Muslim. "I've never allowed it to be a fight; it's just a part of my daily reality. i'm an Arab yank who happens to be raised Muslim who considers himself for the most part Muslim but i am an american who is of Arab descent."

He adds that "your identity is who you're at any given moment. there is never each day where i am not Muslim or don't not read myself as a product of Muslims. i am able to undergo every day and understand which elements of my determine are speaking up and how I will filter those to come to a centered stop method through any given scenario."

Advice to Young Gay Arabs

While Issam and Ramy were able to move higher than and beyond the conflicts of their multiple identities, there are several alternative young gay Arabs who are still baffled by it and struggle with it daily.

Issam offers this piece of recommendation to gay Arab youth. "You aren't alone, you're not the only gay Arab person out there. you're not the only young man or young lady who's combating this. realize where the parable is; realize the actual fact and where the 2 separate. Do your research. Dispel the myths for yourself."

Ramy agrees adding that "the only person that you actually got to listen to is yourself. you can't enable people who have taught you as a child, or your folks, or members of the family, religious scholars, siblings, friends. you can not allow people to make decisions concerning your life and what is right regarding you without you concerned. therefore do not act outside of your best interest."

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