I was born in the 1980’s France. Spent my first years there as a talkative, high-pitched voice boy who loves to wear his mother tights on his head to have pigtails. Seeing me with them was stunning for both sides, but not for the same reason.When I found myself in Morocco, I was eight. I quickly felt that, by living there, I won’t be able to do that again nor wear those long and flowy skirts mom had at that time.
As Abdellah Taïa said in his march 24th open letter, it’s definitely true that “In the Morocco of the 1980s, […] homosexuality did not […] exist”. But then, being called and “Zamel” (which could easily be translated as “faggot”) never made me feel that no one would “save” me: my parents were culturally oblivious to my homosexuality per se. But I NEVER felt I wasn’t loved for what I am.
I, just like any teenager, had a period of time where silence was the key. But in the end of the day, this is not my personality. I also hanged out a lot with women: my mother, my aunts and their girl friends or children. I cannot remember how many evenings I spent in kitchens, creating foil couture dresses for old-bald-looking Barbie dolls.
The truth is, I know how I survived. All I have for me is my belief in me and for the ones I love. My family never had to save me because I never felt in danger. I refuse to think one second that I could have been sacrificed.
The amount of time I have been called “girly” are impossible to count: If I had a dime for every single time I heard a man in the street, in the hammam or at school insulting me and asking to “take care” of him, I would have been a millionaire! This type of behavior is clearly the symptom of a society that cannot handle the core-concept of homosexuality: the fact that two people of the same sex can LOVE each other. But this is another subject, another debate.
Being homosexual doesn’t mean that you must be out. I decided that I would be. Each member of my family had his own coming-out moment. All of this happened when we came back to France.
First, it was my older brother. He found my diary in which I was describing my first intimate encounters. I was 17 and him, 22. It was a dramatic scene that finished in tears and insults but a few months later, he got more understanding. A few years later, supportive. Today, he’s my biggest fan and I have his back no matter what.
Then, It was my mother’s turn, right after her giving birth to my sister. I was 18 and it was short and simple: “Mom, I love men.” She had a caricatural reaction including tears, some references to allah and, of course, many words about her not having grand-children. Since then, she sees my homosexuality as just a detail.
My sister always knew it. She’s always seen me bringing some loud friends at home for a couscous and crossing paths with one or two messy transvestites that I knew from the club scene. She was 12 and insulted by not being informed sooner. Now, we both check out men in the street. Those moments are priceless.
Finally, my father had what I call a maghreb-culture-sensitive coming out. One sentence made the whole thing clear: “Dad, I’m not gonna get married and I won’t have kids”. I also added that Islam wasn’t recognizing me as human being. That last point settled it. His answer was “I pray everyday that it will change”. Mine was: “Good luck with that”. We both laughed. A muslim father’s laughing at a gay joke: check!
I didn’t expect my family to go “yay, our kid is homosexual”. I do not expect my father to hang out with my (non-existing) boyfriend. I will not expect more than this because this is already amazing. I talk, laugh, cry and share moments with my family.
I refused to be sacrificed as a homosexual because my family never made me feel like I could have been a victim. If now I’m an visual artist that shows, performs and succeeds, it’s because of my refusal to let anybody think that he has a power over me.