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My struggle as a young LGBTQ crypto Jewish boy in Egypt
by Adham Nabil

My name is Adham Nabil ESC class of 2000. My family were one of the few crypto Jewish families left in Egypt. We had to hide and change our names to survive. My story begins when I was five and I was taken to my first ballet class. Even though my mother had to drag me there, I suddenly had found myself in a place where I didn''t feel like I would be judged for not being like the other boys and wanting to play their stupid games. In fact, I was the only boy in the ballet class and I was totally free to be my femmy little self. I never really developed any lasting friendships with boys in school, and I always perceived myself as different than most of them. Throughout the rest of elementary school I would see other boys who would seem inexplicably similar to me, but we always strayed away from each other. I don''t think we consciously recognized what we saw in each other or ourselves, but we knew the gay jokes told at recess were related to us and it was better to keep our heads low. It was only in ballet class or at home did I feel comfortable and myself. I think my family assumed that I would be gay when I was growing up. Often when I was little I would put on my mother''s lipstick or play dress up with my best friend. She would let me try on her dresses and we would perform made up plays for our mothers. My mom had worked as a bellydancer when she was younger and had several gay friends so she never tried to make me behave in a gender-conforming way. However, I once asked her at the shopping mall for a "my size Barbie" so I could play and dress up like her and to this day my mother regrets never getting me one. As I got older I started getting depressed in middle school. I think this had to do with several stressful home life issues, but also dealing with my sexuality. I had stopped expressing my feminine side and became very self-conscious of how different I was than most boys. I seemed only to fit in with the girls but I found myself distancing myself from them, probably because I perceived it as gay and therefore the most dreadful thing a middle school boy could be. I had even dropped out of dance classes. The beginning of high school gave me a brand new start and really turned my life around. My family shared their secret with me and informed me about my Jewish heritage. I always knew I was different. Over spring break that freshman year of high school I suddenly let myself entertain the thought that I might have same-sex attractions. I had always been so busy in my life before worrying about whether I seemed gay and never had allowed myself to actually consider the idea, because deep down it excited me. My girlfriend also realized that something was happening with me and she also noticed that I was emotionally distancing myself. It was like we were becoming best friends instead of boyfriend-girlfriend. On the very day that I was going to break up with her, she told me that we should break up. Shortly after, I told one of my friends that I thought I might be bisexual because I was finding guys attractive. After coming out to myself, the rest was easy for me. My mom had actually told me a year before I came out, "If you were gay, I''m not saying you are honey, but if you were, I would be completely okay with that. I want you to know that." So when I actually did come out to her, she was extremely supportive. I''m pretty sure that my brother saw I was gay when I put it on my myspace and told my dad about it; however, my dad waited for me to tell him in person. I felt that I grew up a lot that first year after I came out. I was completely out at school and I never felt like people tried to push me back into the closet. I no longer needed an excuse to hang out with girls who understood me. I allowed myself to express my feminine side again. Most importantly, I started dancing again, no longer stigmatized by the gayness associated with it.

posted on Sunday, September 26, 2021
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