I was born in 1996, in the Moroccan city of Temara. My story isn’t about being Mormon or having any Mormon connections. But our cultures, in many ways are more common than you think. I had a difficult childhood growing up in a broken family. My mother died when I was young and my father was an alcoholic. He was abusive to my sister and I. We lived in a small apartment where I shared a room with my sister and despite our difficult living conditions, she was always there for me. I learned so much from her.
At a young age I didn’t have a clear understanding of my own sexuality, but I was curious. When my sister would leave the house, I would use her makeup to express how I see myself, which gave me a sense of self-confidence and helped me discover my own unique identity. I was curious and I naturally leaned into my effeminacy.
My first sexual experience didn’t come for a few years and it was with a friend who suggested that we imitate what he had seen his parents do in the privacy of their own home. This was my first exposure to homosexuality, and although I didn’t fully understand what I was doing, I enjoyed the rush of that experience. It didn’t take long for the boys in my neighborhood to soon catch wind of our activities, and eventually someone told my father. The day he found out, he came to my room in the middle of the night, poured a bucket of water on me, and physically assaulted me. I was left alone to cry throughout the night.
The next morning, my father let me know that he couldn’t allow me to continue living in his home, so he arranged for me to move into the home a family friend. As the universe would have it, it was in this home that I met Amine, who become my first love.
Amine and I started out as friends, but our relationship eventually turned sexual after we both started to go through puberty. The innocent kissing and flirting eventually led to sex —an experience that felt like a glass ceiling inside of me that shattered. During our several year relationship, we explored and discovered together. We both enjoyed the connection and we wanted to continue with each other.
Our love relationship was cut when we were caught in a romantic situation. I was once again removed from the place I called home, this time Amine would join me in my exile. This scandal left us both ashamed and publicly humiliated in the company of our friends and neighbours. Social media and neighborhood gossip continued to perpetuate our stories, outing us both to our community.
We became the target of constant bullying and abuse from my family, neighbours, past friends and people from our city. I felt helpless and isolated, these feelings led to thoughts of suicide and the contemplation of suicidal action. Scared for my safety, I reached out to a therapist and eventually a physician who helped me begin the process of living a healthy mental life.
My family has never accepted me for who I am. The pain of being physically beaten and insulted by my father still lingers in my memories. The agony of my family members is still visible because of their belief that I am choosing not to change who I am.
I was born as a person who is attracted to males and I can’t do anything to stop it. It is part of my nature. I cannot, nor do I have a desire to change who I am.
I do not live in the United States where queer people are afforded rights by the government. In Morocco who I am is still considered an illegal practice. It is not unusual to be insulted in the streets and people call us names like “zamel” (English word for f*ggot). People have no shame in spitting on my face or verbally assaulting me.
And still, I would not change who I am.
I made an effort to remove myself from these communities of hate and as a result I have spent some volunteer time with advocacy groups fighting for future rights of LGBTQ people in Morocco. I feel compelled to stand up for people and let the world know that we are humans and should be treated like normal people. Our sexual orientations and identities have not made us sick or mentally ill. That is a very difficult message to publicly share in a country that is primarily Islamic. The Mormon and Islamic communities are very similar in their conservative beliefs.
Despite my struggles with religious orthodoxy and governmental repression, I try each day to live happily. I no longer feel a loss of my spirit or my will to live. That is because I have come to love and better understand myself.
Very recently I was granted an Italian visa and I have been able to integrate into Europe which has allowed me the opportunity to explore other advocacy groups throughout the world that are sharing the stories and experiences of people like us. Here in Europe, I have been given the opportunity to live as who I am without any fear or concern to be prosecuted for who I’m. I have been fortunate to find a community of people who have accepted me for who I am. It is here that I was introduced to the Latter Gay podcast by some new Mormon friends and I’ve been able to read more about Mormons and the Mormon cultures surrounding this subject.
I have been able to continue building my self-confidence and I am living life on my own terms.
I learned to stand up for myself and to live authentically, no matter what others think or say about me because I know I’m safe to live as a gay man. I can openly explore my sexuality with other gay men freely without any fear or concern.
My story is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the importance of self-acceptance. Through my struggles, I am able to find the courage to face my fears and to live life on my own terms. I have discovered that true happiness comes from within and that the only person whose opinion really matters is my own.
I came out so that I could be free.
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Each Sunday we feature a new Coming Out Story on the Latter Gay Stories blog. Coming out is an important process that is different for everyone; some experiences are difficult; while others are heart-warming and inspiring. Coming out is rarely easy—but your story will help others draw inspiration from your own experience.
We rely on weekly submissions to keep the Coming Out Stories alive and invite you to share your story now.
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