I grew up in the Gulf region of the Middle East. I have a very open minded family who always embrace differences and they try their best not to judge homosexuals. Nevertheless, I always saw them whisper to each other after a homosexual would pass a table. For example when they explained how they met their first homosexual couple, they expressed how wonderful they were but laughed uncontrollably at the simple fact that they (lowered voice) "were gay"... shhh.....
Compared to other Arab families, I liked that my parents were open minded. I never thought that homosexuality was a big deal either, but when one of my friends would talk to me about a homosexual person, I would automatically say: "ewww", or, "she's just doing it to show off to the guys", or, "he's not a man at all!"- the last comment is a classic Arab insult towards a guy. I never thought to myself how it would feel if someone ever said that behind my back if I were gay.
When I met a homosexual person, I would always feel deep inside that they were "different". I avoided saying anything to them because I had no idea what to discuss. Until I left the Middle East for college, and that was when I started befriending homosexuals, and that weird "inner" feeling of them being different was completely gone. It was gone because as a dark Middle Easterner dating a Blonde guy, I felt how it was to be different and I don't mean to sound conceited, but I felt bad for the people who were missing out on me. I wondered- how many people am I missing out on?
A few years later, I started watching my sister, wondering how a smart beautiful girl like her could still be single? I noticed how the shy girl she was would be over confident around men almost proving to the whole family: see? I am attracted to men. I knew deep inside that was not natural, that, for example, if she was actually attracted to a certain guy she would feel very shy. I knew right away she was homosexual, but never told her anything from fear that she might still not know it or that she was not ready to confront.
When she did tell me, I was VERY relieved. Very much so. She felt so much better, and was generally a happier person I could tell. She sent it to me in an SMS: "I have to tell you something". Then she did not respond for an hour or so..... during which I was trembling from fear and yelling at my boyfriend to stop talking to me because my mind was so scared that she would tell me something terrible. She finally SMSed me back after a million messages of me threatening to sue her if she keeps scaring me with those messages and then not responding. She wrote: "I am gaye and I have been in a relationship for 6 months". I was very relieved.
So to all you out there- this is one of the good ways to break the news to your homophobic family. Let them say terrible things about homosexuals and AGREE with everything they say. Then one day when they are in the best mood, expressing their love for you and how much they love you, tell them you have to tell them something in a way that makes it seem it's life or death. I know it's mean, but it helps with the relief when they know it's not a matter of life or death....
Knowing my sister, I know for a fact that it was a matter of life or death for her. I helped save her life simply because I loved her. I ignored any other feelings that rose up as a result of my past prejudices- and as a person, I love myself so much more for being more tolerant to this world's differences. We have no right to shape each other, so what makes it okay to selfishly shape our thoughts towards each other?
I have known now for several years. She has been heartbroken two times before and now she is in a wonderful relationship. I have supported her then and support her now and I say this: love is love, in all its purity- and nothing like identity can shit on that.