Earlier this month, we invited Vancity Buzz readers who identify as LGBT to submit their own ‘coming out’ stories as a way of empowering and inspiring others who may be struggling with their own sexuality.
The seventh and final of our reader-submitted coming out stories during Vancouver Pride Week 2015 details Hasan Abood’s struggles of coming to terms with his sexuality, which conflicts with his parent’s believes, and finding a balance between sexuality and his Muslim faith.
Occupation: Arab Student Counselor, ELS Language Centers – Vancouver
My name is Hasan Abood, I’m 27 years old. I was originally born in Iraq in 1987 to Muslim Iraqi parents. I’m gay and I’m happily engaged to my fiance, Tarn Paul Khare. I want to share my coming out story and the struggle that I faced.
My whole life, growing up, I always knew I was gay. I used to wear my sisters’ dresses, play beauty pageants with them. I used to play with Barbie dolls. I never liked sports. I always liked art and I always knew I was different. I also knew that I was attracted to men.
Never have I looked at a girl and felt any sort of attraction. In fact, my parents saw how feminene I was growing up. They seemed okay with it. They never really objected to me dressing like a girl. Growing up, I kept denying myself because my parents would indirectly hint at the fact that to be gay is a sign of illness; it’s wrong, and punishable by God.
My father used to always make remarks. For instance, he would watch a film that would have a gay character and he would express how disgusted he would feel about it and he would make it loud and clear.
When I was about 16, he took me to Tim Hortons and confronted me. He said, “Are you G?” And tears started streaming down his face. He couldn’t even say the whole word. I was scared and I denied the whole thing. He saw an MSN conversation with a guy I was seeing.
I kept telling him that I’m not and he kept saying that he will help me change. And then for a while, I kept trying to change myself to make him happy, though I know I couldn’t change.
Then in 2008, when the film “Milk” came out, my dad found out that I went to see it and he kept yelling at me and all. Then, when the film won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay, writer Lance Black, who is openly gay, gave his speech and it was an openly gay speech. I made it clear that I was rooting for him.
My dad noticed that and he took me out to have a talk with me. This was when I opened to him fully, told him my whole life story.
We both cried. He told me I had two weeks to find a job and leave and that I am no longer his son.
At that time during the recession, I didn’t have a job and I was so dependent on my parents, I was scared. Even my sisters advised me to deny that I was gay because it’s hard to find a job. On a side note, I was out to both of my sisters and they have always been supportive. For instance, Rand, my sister, knew I was gay since I was 12 when I came out to her.
Anyways, I went back into the closet once again and my dad tried to help me change. I went through a religious phase. I became so devout to Shia Islam. I started going to the Huseneya [Shia Mosque] and I became very devout. I thought that if I became religious, I’d change and I’d become straight. Then, I realized that I have been going to the mosque, yet I have not changed. So, I left God altogether and realized that God really hated me and I was not proud to be Muslim.
Then, I started to accept myself slowly. I started to hang out with some of my gay friends. I started going to clubs and meeting gay guys. And then, I met my Tarn. My heart just told me he’s the one.
So, my whole life, I grew up, afraid to be myself, afraid to face a truth, and afraid to love. Then everything changed on April 9, 2011. That day, Abbas Kazi and I went to Mohammed Shahid’s birthday. It happened to be also Tarn Paul Khare”s birthday, too. I hadn’t met him in person at the time but I did add him on Facebook because I thought he was so hot, it was crazy.
Abbas told me that he will write a card to Moe and I will write a card to Tarn. I said I didnt know him. So I wrote him a card, regardless, and then I met him in person and I gave him the card. Would you guys believe me that my heart stopped beating the moment I saw him? I almost forgot the whole world, forgot my existence, forgot myself… I was in love. Love at first sight. YES!
I couldn’t stop looking at him the whole night and he noticed that too. My eyes gazing at his eyes. His smile. His eyes. His lips. I admit, I came off too strong and I admit that I wanted to marry this guy even after a week of meeting him. I remember telling my friend Mehdi how I want to marry him and he said, “Girl, slow it down!” But my heart told me that he’s the one.
Tarn didn’t want a relationship because he thought I was too much and he just got out of a relationship. So, we became friends and time went by. Then there were days when we secretly hooked up. In time, Tarn and I got closer and closer. We started spending time alone, doing things by ourselves. Going on adventures.
And I will never forget this but the day when I was leaving for my Toronto trip, right before he dropped me off at my family home, he kissed me and that kiss gave me goosebumps. I left for the trip, yet I was thinking of Tarn. I couldn’t stop thinking about him throughout my trip.
My birthday came, we dated officially and I left my family. I left my home and moved in with Tarn and his mother, God bless her. She took me in and treated me like a son; she knew about us and she was and has always been supportive. Our love blossomed and our relationship continued to build. On March 9, 2012, he proposed to me and we got engaged.
My parents found out about the engagement and they no longer wanted to speak with me, especially my father. My mother and I are slowly texting each other now and we’re talking. I have a feeling she will come around one day. I’m not sure if my father will.
But luckily, I have support from some of my uncles and cousins. I know I might’ve hurt my parents, but I know in the end, I chose to be true to myself and live an honest life, filled with love, a life with a man that God has sent to save me.
I realize, in the end, that God is so great and accepting despite what others say. I know God created me this way and He loves me just the way I am.
I found the balance between religion and my sexuality, and I am still a proud Muslim and yet I’m gay. I may not be a practising Muslim, but I inherit all the beautiful things that my religion taught me and the most important thing that sadly many radicals seem to overlook is love and through love is what I will live.
Vancity Buzz is a proud media partner of the 2015 Vancouver Pride Festival