Earlier this month, we invited Daily Hive Vancouver 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 fifth of our reader-submitted coming out stories during Vancouver Pride Week 2016 details a young Iranian women’s struggle to gain acceptance for being gay in her own culture and the discrimination she experienced in the United States after 9/11.
As a queer Iranian woman I can tell you that the road has not been easy. My story is one that begins in the beautiful city of Tehran, moves on to the United States after 9/11, and finally delivers me into Canada where I currently live.
As a child, I remember drawing beautiful dresses imagining myself as an adult, I was a child full of love and dreams. There was no curly hair to hide, no accent to mask, and no crushes to keep secret; it was all just part of me until I learnt that I was different.
I recall the moment I realized that I didn’t look or sound like any of my North American classmates. My hair was thicker, my skin was darker, my tongue spoke words in Farsi; I was the odd one out. In the aftermath of 9/11, I was targeted because of my differences and it was the first time I experienced hate, and unfortunately it would also not be the last.
Already hyperaware of my Iranian background, I now noticed an attraction to not only men but also women. For context, in Farsi there is no positive or even neutral word to describe a person who is gay, bisexual or queer. I had somehow survived being bullied, hated and discriminated against for being Iranian yet now my own culture did not have a word to describe who I am. I felt utterly alone, a child abandoned by the world, but there was something within me that refused to give up.
I had this fire inside that I couldn’t be the only one, there had to be others. Slowly, but surely, I started to find these beautiful people.
What was surprising is that everyone had a story. We had all been called the same names, pushed into the same walls and told we hadn’t found the right guy (for woman) or girl (for men).
Over time, I started to love all these different parts of me. It is what makes me unique, it is what makes me strong and it is what makes me the person I am today. This is not only a coming out story, but also a story for all to hear and do something about. No one should ever learn what hate is, let alone a child through first hand experience. Love is, and always has been, the answer.