On sexuality and ruining opportunities

17 December 2010 § Leave a comment

I recently went searching through the Inbox of my very oldest email address (service provider: Rocketmail, long ago bought out by Yahoo! Did anyone else have a Rocketmail address??)  and found this gem of a line from an old high school friend who, though infrequently, really just wrote the best emails ever. She sent it on the eve of her own wedding to a Farangi of the American persuasion. The following two sentences capture the absolute essence of what my marriage to a Farangi meant on a larger scale:

The last two weeks were spent recuperating with my parents in –, making minor preparations for the HINDU WEDDING… my parents seem happy probably because the relations are happy because my potentially errant sexuality has now been tamed by the iron weeds of wedlock and they can move on to the job of talking about how no one else in my family will marry well as a result of this miscegenation.

Long ago, in a land faraway (or, er, another now-defunct blog) I wrote about the occassionally visited topic of my sexuality, which was in question as a direct result of my lack of (known) love interests or marriage prospects. Also, I consistently refused to engage in what Egyptians call “gawaz saloonat“. Literally translated that is, “salon marriage” meaning  a marriage match which occurs on the basis of formal family introductions, which usually occur in the formal drawing room (salon) of the bride-to-be’s family home. In other words, a marriage based on reputation, status and anything but love or even familiarity and regard between the two people to be married. I railed against this form of meeting a guy and below is one instance of what happened in the aftermath of yet another fight over my refusal to go the salonat route:

One somewhat amusing outcome of this whole situation is that when I was discussing with my mother yesterday how I’d rather never get married than just marry some guy who looks good on paper just to please my parents/society she suddenly looked at me suspiciously and said, “Are you a lesbian?” To which I responded, “Well, that’s an interesting question. Would you rather I tell you I’m a lesbian, or would you rather I just never get married?” Which was kind of mean on my part, as it threw her into a bit of a frenzy, and it’s not true anyway.

On this blog I will from time to time visit the idea that while I am not gay I often felt like I could relate very well to what my gay friends were going through. The fear, the self-loathing, the “what’s wrong with me why can’t I just love who they want me to love?”, the defiance and the eventual acceptance of self. Of course I appreciate that there’s one huge difference between me and my gay friends and that is that ultimately once I got over my own fear and self-loathing there and prepared to face my family and micro-society I would have all the support of the state, religious and social institutions to be with who I wanted to be with.

Another point I wanted to touch upon which was brought up in my friend’s email is now that we’ve got a full-on Farangi in the family how will it affect the marital prospects of the other women in my family? I hope it won’t, though my sister in the past has “lost” suitors because she lived in America by herself for a whole year while attending an all-women’s college (*gasp*! the horror!) so I can’t imagine that my own act of miscegenation will endear her to that particular crowd.  Also, the daughters of my most religious aunt  have begun clamoring for me to introduce them to more foreigners (though not necessarily Farangis, and preferably, I believe, other Arab-Muslims born and raised). I don’t imagine that their salafi father (whose brother-in-law was a prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood) will look too kindly on me introducing them to European converts.

But, hey, at least I won’t die a lesbian spinster. Right, mom?

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