Coming out of the walk-in closet

1 June 2010 § Leave a comment

If the disapproving but resigned folks at the Ministry of Justice are anything to go by, the rate of Egyptian female to Farangi male marriage is skyrocketing. Who knows why? If you’re anything like me, you did it because you chose to fall in love with your best friend who also happened to be a mutt of European origins who came to Egypt several years ago “for a few months” and decided to stay…a few years.

In the year or so that has passed since I’ve “come out” with my farangi beau I’ve had numerous friends – both male and female – ask me about the experience. How did my family react? Was it difficult to convince them? How did his family react? How are we keeping it together? And so on.

Unlike many western countries – cross-ethnic, cross-cultural marriage is still pretty uncommon in the Middle East. This should probably be the spot where I offer some statistics about such things, but I’m lazy and love to rely on anecdotal evidence. So, let’s put it this way – I’m the first female in my entire extended family of 12 aunts and uncles and 52 cousins to marry a non-Egyptian. I have one uncle who married a nice European woman, but that’s still more palatable than what I’ve gone and done because he’s a man (though, surprisingly, still not as easy as I thought it was for the Egyptian lads – more on that eventually).

The idea for this blog was born out of those questions, though the title was born a little bit before that during an email exchange with an old family friend. Said friend had herself already married a Farangi, albeit one who was only Farangi by nationality and not entirely by ethnicity. Meaning, he was not all white and he was born Muslim and not a convert like my particular Farangi, but at the end of the day they too had to get married at the Egyptian Ministry of Justice because he is not an Egyptian national. I had emailed my friend to ask about the intricacies of Egyptian-foreigner marriage and at the end of the email apologized for the umpteenth question in that day’s installment of “so I married a farangi.”

She thought that was hilarious and said we should write a book together. Instead I started writing a skit about it for  the Bussy Project – an Egyptian student-led dramatic initiative which “Raises awareness about women’s issues and rights by tackling problems in areas like sexual harassment, early marriage, female circumcision, equal opportunity employment, education, and more.

Basically, Bussy is the Egyptian Vagina Monologues and I knew a friend of a friend who was heavily involved in the project so I joined the Facebook group. I have some theatre background in technical crew and thought I could help out with the set-building or lighting for the show. But then I found myself one day thinking of transforming that email exchange into a comic skit about the real life experience I was having at the time – namely, convincing my family that their worlds would not come tumbling down if I married a Farangi.

However, true to my flighty nature, I never finished the script for the skit. And now, instead, I offer this blog.

Hopefully it will be a resource for practical advice on marrying a Farangi in Egypt if one should choose to do so, but it will also be a place for me to put down my thoughts and explore the difficulties of marrying a Farangi. Surprisingly enough, breaking the news to your conservative Muslim, nationalistic parents that you want to marry a white-boy convert with a funny accent is not the most difficult part of the process. And while my particular Farangi and I had many years as friends to think about the choice we were making, we always thought that getting my parents’ approval would be the toughest part.

This here blog is a document of how wrong we were about that.

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