We came to Australia from Jordan when I was 9, and we ended up living in Castle Hill, a very Christian area. As a result, I went to a public school filled with Christian teachers, where I was one of the few Muslims in my school. So I was already different, but then when I was about 13 or 14, I started feeling that I was even more different. But I didn’t really want to say why.
It was considered cool to be a bit of a homophobe at my school. And of course, there was no support for non-heterosexuals at all – for example, it wasn’t even mentioned in sex education. There was this one Scripture teacher who said people become gay because they get bullied, which made me very confused, and another time the deputy principal was making fun of a very feminine guy by imitating his mannerisms. So I grew up thinking that being gay was just wrong; it was wrong at school, and it was also wrong at home. I still remember one night when my father saw Mardi Gras on the SBS news and said how disgraceful those people were. So every single time that I thought about being gay or anything related to it, I would just reject it in my mind.
Then, in year 10, I went to Paris as an exchange student and I had my first kiss with a girl. I realized then that I was gay. When I came back, I really came out to myself, and I felt very depressed. I started skipping school and ended up getting alopecia because I was so worried about anyone finding out. I had this fear of people rejecting me, and I didn’t want my parents to have more problems than they already did. My father was getting sick, he was undergoing dialysis and I was his caretaker twice a week. So I told myself that I didn’t want to hurt him.
Then one day, my parents found a gay magazine in my room, and they confronted me, hysterical. In their minds, they thought that being gay was a Western phenomenon – I didn’t tell them that I had been like this since I was 13. Eventually, there was so much friction at home that I moved out, and it was really then that I started exploring who I am.
I had started working at Just Jeans in the city, where I made friends with gay people for the first time. I found it fascinating how comfortable they were with their sexuality, and it allowed me to have a sense of connection with others that I hadn’t had before. After that, I went a bit crazy and did the whole four nights a week in Oxford Street, drinking a lot and so on. But at the end of that year, I started saying to myself. “Hang on, I need to question what I’m doing here.” So I applied for Sydney uni and started studying Human Geography part time.
Now I’m working on my honours thesis, and I just spent 6 weeks doing research in Myanmar. I also lived in Indonesia for 7 months as part of a student mobility program. Those times fundamentally changed me. When you live outside of your normal environment, it really forces you to question your moral compass – who you are, what you want to do and what kind of life you want to ultimately live.
When I came out I felt like I had to make the choice between my sexual identity and my faith. But I’ve realized that’s its not really that black and white. Identities are so complex, and my personal relationship with God shouldn’t be decided by what others believe is the right path.
I’m in a really good place at the moment. I feel a lot more settled than I used to – I’ve made a lovely queer community that I can happily call as friends – and they all seem to love my Arabic food and pop music!
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Welcome Omar! What a brave and honest human you are. I am glad to read you are embracing all beautiful aspects of your identity.
“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!” – Dr. Seuss So glad you found you!
Welcome to Australia.
I trust you can also build a strong group of non judgemental heterosexual friends as well.
I’m glad you’ve found your true self. Sorry you had such a hard time getting there. Thanks for sharing your story.
Well done you, for finding yourself. You sound like a very well grounded person who has his direction in life.
As a side note, I’m so sorry that you experienced bullying at school and witnessed inappropriate teacher behaviour. I’d like to think that doesn’t happen in too many schools and I can guarantee it wouldn’t happen in any that I work at!
What a delightful young man. I am proud to call you Australian. I hope your parents have reconciled with you. You are wonderful man. Good luck for your future.
Good on you for being strong enough to work through those years of confusion & self-hate. You are as worthy as anyone else, and I hope you continue to enjoy the hard-won realisation that you are ok, and even more, that you are deeply worthy and deserving of all the happiness life can deliver. Go well, Omar ????
Thanks for your open, honest sharing of your story Omar. You’ve dealt with a lot and its great to hear that you’ve also had experiences that have helped you become comfortable with the person you are. ????
Great story , puts a lot into true perspective. My concerns with events like the Mardi Gras . Is not that the parade is mostly gay folk, but rather its the lewd behaviour. That type of display conditions others to think that gay people are immoral. And that is not the truth as your story shows. So for me its not a persons sexuality , but it is their public behaviour. I met a couple recently , gay men travelling in a caravan on holiday. They wouldn’t be seen dead in a mardi Gras parade. Glad your life in Aus is better now and thanks for putting something back into the community.
❤️❤️❤️❤️ never be afraid to be who you are Omar, there will always be people out there who will support you. Yes, the world is full of people who want to tear you down, but there’s just as many of us who will help you to keep standing. Ox
“My personal relationship with God shouldn’t be decided by what others believe is the right path.”
Thanks for sharing your story, some powerful messages there about finding yourself, and being true to yourself and acceptance. I’m glad you can be yourself here in Australia.
I’m glad you found your true self and are happy now. Well done. I’m sure it took a lot of internal strength and fortitude. Others who judge you do so because of their own insecurities and problems
Your story really resonates with me, having been brought up in a certain religious system that suppressed who I truly was and finally breaking free at 17. I applaud your courage, self growth and personal development Omar and wish you all the best!
What a wonderful young man Omar is! I am so glad that you are being true to who you are. Life is good.
Thank you for sharing, and Good on ya! “Identities are so complex, and my personal relationship with God shouldn’t be decided by what others believe is the right path.” This is so true. Good luck with the rest of your journey, Omar. You are an amazing person.
Respect to Omar. I am fortunate enough to have spent time with Omar in Geography at the uni of Sydney. Omar is smart, hard working, compassionate and dedicated to his culture and identity. He’s a model citizen and our classes are richer for his participation. I wish him success as he finishes up his Honours year and I greatly hope he goes on to a PhD and leads change as a young gay academic. Hugs
This is so great to hear your story Omar. I really hope that if I have children and they attend castle hill high or the like that they can be taught to be themselves and love one another. The only time I was able to learn about homosexuality was in CAFS which I believe should have parts which are taught in PE or a compulsory unit in year 8 or 9 which teaches that we are all different and their is nothing wrong with that. Good luck completing your thesis.
Omar, your story is amazing. Working with you I would have assumed everything in you life has always been roses. You are hands down one of the most balanced humans I have met.
Im sorry I dont know how that got up. I was reading recaps before….. . I meant to say thank you for sharing your story. All the best
Love you and your story. Not a negative thought in it. Looks like you have found your Nirvana. All the best in your life. I wish your parents would realise how much they are missing when we strangers embrace you with all the love and warmth. Would love to meet you.
Thanks for sharing your story…. just curious on how your relationship is with your mother and father… now that you are on your “coming out journey”… I have a friend who is adore who is of Arab background and in their 40s who has not even done half of what you have done 🙂
I’m glad you had the strength to be you, Jordan. You’re right, issues of faith and identity are not black and white. You’re a star ⭐️
What a well written self accepting story, Omar. You have a rich collection of perspectives you can draw upon to navigate through your Life. And you will definitely collect more along the way. I foresee you finding a wonderful partner to share your journey.
Welcome Omar, thanks for sharing: so glad you were able to leave the Middle East as a child before your sexuality would have made your life hell.