Middle East / North Africa

Refugee’s tale: ‘the homosexual’s biggest enemy is homosexuals themselves’

A former employee of  religious affairs ministry in Jordan, gay activist Khalaf Yousef fled to Lebanon after receiving death threats and currently is a refugee in Canada. He was recently interviewed by the online Jordan-based LGBTQIA magazine MyKali.

Khalaf Yousef, currently a refugee in Canada (Photo courtesy of My.Kali)

Khalaf Yousef, currently a refugee in Canada (Photo courtesy of My.Kali)

‘No Ordinary Story’

These are excerpts from Khalaf Yousef ‘s recent interview with MyKali. The excerpts start with his description of:

How he extracted himself from a sham marriage, then cried

Because of pressure on me from my family, friends and the sheikh, I decided to get married. First the engagement happened and then marriage. I knew I could not live with a woman under one roof. The first night was hell, worse than hell, because I could not have a sexual interaction with her since I am not attracted to women. I started making up excuses until more than seven months had passed. I could not have any sexual interaction with her during that time. My last resort was telling her that I wasn’t sexually capable of being with any female. Her reaction was very hostile; she cussed and I was not able to answer, because she had every right to be angry….

[My wife’s family] told me they were ready to end the marriage under one condition; that we met in the Diwan of the family to tell everyone that the problem was me, not his daughter, and that she was still a virgin. They had me sign documents to bide me to this condition. I agreed to everything. The day came and more than four hundred people were in the Diwan. Her father stood up and told everyone that Sheikh Khalaf is going to divorce his daughter and is about to share the reason. He signaled to me to stand up and tell them.

Khalaf Yousef in the mid-1990s as a Salafist (Photos courtesy of My.Kali)

Khalaf Yousef in the mid-1990s as a conservative Sunni Salafist (Photos courtesy of My.Kali)

I had prepared a short, yet direct speech to communicate the idea. I started with the Quranic verse: “or those male attendants having no physical desire”, I explained the verse and then told them that I was one of those men mentioned in the verse, that I had not been able have a sexual relationship with my wife for the past seven months, that the girl was still a virgin and was innocent of this whole ordeal.

My heart was about to burst out of my chest, my knees were shaking like an earthquake had erupted in them and my mouth was very dry with nervousness. After my speech, I sat down and the hall was completely silent. I looked at her father’s face and he looked very happy and satisfied, so I asked to leave. I rushed out of the hall and found some trees where I stood and cried.

Would you like to send a specific message to the readers of MyKali? What would you like to say to the straight and gay communities?

I would like to communicate two messages the readers of MyKali.

I say to the straight society: You had no choice in being straight; you do not choose to be attracted to the other gender. Religion, morals and how you were raised have nothing to do with it. The same goes to homosexuals. Therefore, anyone out of those around you can be homosexual; it may be the closest person to you; or a doctor that saved your life. Would you return his good deeds by denying him just because he is different? I do not think that ingratitude or ungratefulness is moral or manly.

The homosexual and LGBT society is a part of our society whether we like it or not.

The second message is one I would like to communicate to the LGBTQIA for the first time. Unfortunately, the homosexual’s biggest enemy is homosexuals themselves when they deny their own nature, orientation, and attitudes. A huge responsibility falls on your shoulders from two sides: one is accepting yourself, and that can only happen through the second element which is being educated about it. Educate yourself, read about sexuality, genders and their variations. When it comes to accepting oneself, you must know that the problem is in the people, not yourself. Your sexual orientation is your personal life and it is none of anyone else’s business; that is if we are talking personal freedom and not nature and science. In the end, I wish everyone would have a nice life, a great future and continuous success. I end with my warmest wishes to everyone.

For more information, read the full interview in My.Kali.

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2 thoughts on “Refugee’s tale: ‘the homosexual’s biggest enemy is homosexuals themselves’

  1. What an unfortunate and difficult experience for this young man who was, himself, so closed to the idea of expressing his homosexuality that he did marry, thereby creating a difficult social situation for his wife and family. While that situation did resolve for the spouse, it does not seem to have resolved for Khalaf.

    When he blames other homosexuals and calls us our own worst enemy, he displays what we call internalized homophobia. “The self-hatred that occurs as a result of being a socially stigmatized person.” (Locke, 1998). Or, “internalized homophobia happens when LGBQ individuals are subjected to society’s negative perceptions, intolerance and stigmas towards LGBQ people, and as a result, turn those ideas inward believing they are true.” (Revel and Riot http://www.revelandriot.com/resources/internalized-homophobia/)

    In Canadian society today, there is no longer a general expectation that people will stay life-long in the closet. Most of our schools expose children to the different sexual orientations and gender identities and most parents no longer deny their children but embrace them as they are so that we are able to live “normal” lives, marry and even adopt children. We have anti-bullying programs. We have full human and legal rights here.

    Being a recent arrival to Canada, perhaps Khalaf has not yet had sufficient time to recover from his own experiences and so continues to heap the entire responsibility of coming out solely on the individual homosexual. First, it is society as a whole that must offer support to sexual and gender minorities, allowing all its sexual minorities to become fully themselves. And all of society must encourage all our young people, indeed everyone in society, to be themselves and to accept the diversity of other’s sexualities and gender identities.

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  2. Pingback: Uganda: Congolese refugee becomes LGBTI activist | 76 CRIMES

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