My name is Mounir, I was born in a society with lots of taboos and topics you are not
allowed to talk about. My father and mother, to some extent, were different even from the direct family. Different in the sense of raising us in a more open minded set from the surrounding society. We were able to discuss some “taboos” and give our opinion on many topics.
Since a young age, I was different from everyone, I was bullied a lot in school, I still played what boys play (soccer, basketball….) but there was always this artistic side that no one understood, except my parents, which they encouraged as much as they could as we were a low income family. With time, this side of me disappeared as the means to continue it was not available.
While growing up, I started discovering myself, my body and my sexuality which I came to terms early on, at the age of 12 or 13 as I remember, but this was the biggest taboo that I couldn’t discuss with anyone, even my somewhat “open minded” parents. I always thought if they knew about it it will kill them which made me want to leave the house and be on my own, live my life as a gay man. I never could really do it until I moved to France with my partner, where we are now happily married. However, I made sure to “come out” to my mother before leaving to France.
Being at peace with my sexuality made me more open to experiences, be it good or bad, and ultimately it helped shape the Mounir I am today. Part of it was discovering my body where I used to go to a river nearby our house and swim naked there, as I always loved the feeling of freedom that came with it, away everyone else, and from society, and at some point away from myself and all the problems running wild in my head. Moving to France is helping me express myself without any fear of being persecuted or judged, and experience nudism more, something I had always longed for.
A big part of this goes to my partner who is always supportive of everything I want to do. He comes from the same background and society as me.
I am the lucky person who got to call Mounir his husband and partner. Back to the discussion at hand, as Mounir said we come from a society that still has some way to go to accepting differences, not just within orientation, gender, or sexuality, but ethnicity, religions, and much more. I am also fortunate to come from a family that is considerably more liberal and open minded than the norm within our society, but even with that struggled with my identity a lot more over the years.
To a certain extent I still do to this day. I always felt that something in me was different for as long as I can remember. Be it comparisons to my charming brother, my charismatic father, or my friends overall, something just did not click. That was in fact my queerness. I have also been through the onslaught of bullying, stigmatisation, and rebellion in my teenage years, and that lead to me burying my queer identity under the deepest pits of the earth.
I did not really come to terms and accept myself fully until I was 24, and the circumstances behind that were also messy (a mix of gossip, ex girlfriends, and a lot drama), but when I first told my friend the words “I am gay” it was one of the most freeing moments in my life. I moved to another country in the region shortly after and sadly that did not help, given the underground nature of the queer community, my development in it was mainly through the apps, and that really limited my own self acceptance and confidence. Outside the community I am confident, proud, funny, charismatic, and commanding, but as soon as I am in a space that is dominated by the community I shrink, my confidence fades away, and I cross my arms and become very isolated. I feel like an outsider. It does not help that I have long struggled with my self esteem in my appearance as I had started losing my hair when I was 16, and baldness takes its toll on even the most confident of people, of any gender.
Fast forward to today, where I am happily married to the love of my life, I am confident in my appearance (though I have my off days sometimes), I am out to all the friends that mean to me, and my family is not only aware of my true identity, but love it, support it, and take pride in it as much as anyone from within the community itself.
I still have a long journey ahead of me in terms of self exploration and growth, and while this was really out of my comfort zone, I am happy it got to push me out of my limits. I still am shy and awkward in gay settings, but Mounir and my friends are helping get to spread my wings and shed away the shame and fear that I still carry, and show me that the biggest obstacle ahead is mostly in my head and really nothing but a small step towards complete acceptance and pride. For that, I am very excited for what is to come and cannot wait to see how future me will look like.