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Middle East gay man writes beautiful letter to late father: ‘Thank you for accepting me’

Middle East gay man writes beautiful letter to late father: ‘Thank you for accepting me’

Hasan lost his father a couple of months ago

An LGBTI activist based in Jordan has written a moving letter to his late father.

Hasan (who has asked us not to use his full name) lost his father just a couple of months ago. This year’s IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia) prompted him to reflect on his life, and the acceptance and love that his father showed him.

He decided that the best way to express this was to write a letter to his father ‘directly in the hope that he will be listening from somewhere …’

‘Dear father, I wish I had a true chance to thank you enough’

‘My dear father, I wish I had a true chance to thank you enough for being who you are, and to thank you for supporting me emotionally as no one has ever understood my emotions the way you do. Thank you for loving me for who I was and accepting me for the person I was determined to become.

‘I remember when I first came out to you discreetly, without telling anyone else in the family because I was confused about my feelings, I knew that you would not be violent towards me or disown me. But I never expected your reaction when you told me nothing had changed and that I needed to be strong instead of being afraid and shameful.

‘I knew that you truly loved me regardless, unlike many Arab parents who want their children to be the way they want them to be and place so much expectation and pressure on them to fit a certain image to please them and society.

‘I really admire you for the way you dealt with me and my siblings in respecting our choices and perspectives. We grew up to be fearless and you have taught us to be fair, kind, independent; to be a rebel and to be open.

“I felt the need to tell you now that I’m so proud of you”

‘In the last day of your life you kept discussing with me my future plans and you asked me to continue achieving my dreams. You hoped I would find a scholarship for a masters degree and encouraged me to continue the work I’m doing with the LGBT and marginalized communities.

‘When you told me that one day people would appreciate my work and I would set an example as a leader, I panicked.

‘Then I called my sister in the early hours telling her that you kept me awake to talk about things that could have been discussed at any time and not at midnight when I should have been in bed before a day’s work.

‘I remember I told you: “Baba we can talk and discuss this stuff later.”

‘You looked at me and said: “I’m sorry, but I felt the need to tell you now that I’m so proud of you.”

‘Your last words were “I’m proud of you”, and now I want to tell you that I’m proud of you as my father, I’m proud of my siblings who continue to carry the love and the pride that you gave to us.

‘We learned how to love truly and unconditionally in a time and world you can’t find this kind of love.’

The situation in Jordan

Jordan is more advanced than other Middle Eastern countries in relation to LGBTI rights. Same-sex sexual activity is legal and there is an equal age of consent. However, gay people showing affection to one another in public can be prosecuted for ‘disrupting public morality’. They have no legal protections from discrimination.

Hasan, who lives in Amman, works as an advocate for marginalized communities, including LGBTI people.

He tells Gay Star News that he came out to his father in 2009, when he was 19.

Although gay relationships are not illegal in Jordan, he says it remains largely ‘not accepted by society’. It is even harder for trans people.

‘Our country is very conservative and there is lots of segregations even in the changing rooms in the stores at the mall. There is an article in the Jordanian law that punishes transgender women if they use places specified for women – bath rooms, beauty salons or anywhere else that is supposed to be private for women.’

When it comes to offering advice to anyone else in the region struggling with being themselves, he advises caution. Not everyone will have an accepting family.

‘In Jordan, coming out has many risks and consequences. I wouldn’t encourage people if there is the threat of being killed. But I will say, changes comes when we face things. I would feel so bad if my dad had passed away without knowing who I am and about the challenges I suffer.’