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Guest Delphinus

Religious friend's great reaction + Islamophobia - grrr...!

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Guest Delphinus

I was recently over at a dear friend of mine's place, and he asked if he could ask me something... I knew what it would be and I told him yes, that's he's my friend so I would answer. So he asked me if I "like" guys or girls. I told him that I like girls but not many because I rarely fall in love (true - I think I added this mostly because I realize that people are often portrayed as hypersexual). So, we talked for a while, and he was completely accepting. Ever since, I feel like he's trying so, so hard to show that nothing's changed as he keeps saying that friendship involves acceptance not judgement, and keeps referring to me as 'beautiful.' (OK, that part I don't get but OK). Anyway, I put this in here because he's very devout Muslim, and I know that even if he isn't saying so, that this is hard for him; it goes against what his culture has told him (not Islam - homosexuality isn't referenced directly, I know). He doesn't know how I ID gender-wise (how much can I tell him at once? and it's not necessarily important for him to know). But now, he's wanting to ask me more questions and it's not that I don't want to talk with him, it's just that I'm afraid that he'll push himself too far and then not like an answer that I give him. Moreover, I'm not sure if I should let our other two friends know that he knows (I'm pretty sure they both know already, and I know that neither of them would care). I'm a little confused about how to handle this... It's so much. I'm not sure he knows that I'm feeling just as overwhelmed by his great reaction as he is feeling by having me come out to him. Maybe I should tell him that? I don't know...

Secondly, and I really just tacked this on because of its temporal proximity to the aforementioned: Islamophobia sucks! My friends and I were out and this kind of butch young girl with her girlfriend glared at at us - esecially me - the look she gave me was a mix of ethnic/ religious intolerance and queer judgement. NOT OK AT ALL!! I just wanted to say 'seriously? you're going to judge us when you don't even know how to pick a halfway decent looking flannel shirt!? yalla...!'

End rant. Advise please. Thanks!

- Del

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Guest Sarah Faith

Hey Delphinus :)

I've found that communication goes a long way! I'm not saying that every relationship I have survived me coming out unscathed, but the majority of them did. You should communicate your feelings with him and let him know that its a bit overwhelming. People have a habit of filling in what goes unsaid on their own and that's not always a good thing. If you really trust him, then be honest with him for me this has more often then not been a benefit not a hindrance.

As far as islamophobia goes, I have to admit that after 9/11 I have felt that way at times. It is really easy to fall into broad generalizations based on the bad deeds of a few, and I know being trans I should have known better. Especially in that I had a Muslim friend from Iran when I was a kid, and he and his parents were great. I never said anything offensive or such but I did feel really guilty for thinking it! It does suck to be judged due to ignorance and I'm sorry you and your friends had to deal with that. :(

Good luck with your friend though. =)

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Guest Delphinus

Hey Sarah,

Thanks for responding. I think you're right; I need to just talk with him a bit more about this. It's just very hard to know how he's processing what I'm saying... *sigh*

Re 9/11: I think that reaction was pervasive. Even I made some mental generalizations about Saudi after that... Interestingly, I've discovered that the judgements I made at the time were similar to how even Saudi's judge the extremism there, which makes me feel better about it. Still, the fact that you immediately brought up 9/11 speaks volumes about how a lot of people in the US feel. They see Middle Eastern, they think 9/11.' They hear 'Muslim,' they think '9/11.' I really just don't understand. I mean, nobody hears 'Spanish' and thinks 'Crusades! ACK!' Like that girl the other night - she was undoubtedly anglo, does she look in a mirror and think about the Saxon invasion of Britain? How about the obliteration of many Native American cultures? Slavery? Of course not. I guess I have a unique perspective with this because I identify as Mediterranean but I also have a lot of Celtic, some Native American, and some Germanic in me so, I recognize the good and bad in every culture. I'm also very sensitive to ethnic/ religious bigotry because as a kid, I was thrown into walls, searched by security "randomly," cursed at, etc. just because people thought I was Muslim (I've also had a few encounters where people have made comments about me thinking I was Jewish). And you know, I never told them I wasn't even though that might have made them leave me alone. I never said that because I cannot and will not draw a line of distinction where none exists. In fact, the only reason I even have thought about ethnicity lately is that for once in my life, I actually feel like I fit in on that level (with my friends). This may seem trivial and even a little ignorant but when you grow up in a conservative place with people constantly questioning and judging you, it's like finally being able to let go of your breath that you've been holding in for way too long, you know? I don't know... I just know that my friends and I love each other and that we "fit" together on nearly every level (intellectual, emotional, etc.); they only thing that really distinguishes us is that I'm queer and they're not. And really, how much distinction does that provide? Not much. :-)

- Del

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Guest Sarah Faith

I know how that is Delphinus, talking about those sorts of things is really hard for me too! I always think the other person is thinking the worst possible things to what I'm telling them and I end up just not saying a whole lot. With the exception of a few people I actually end up saying things (In person) in as few words as possible, and its an awful habit. You may find that you cant get everything you wanna get out in one talk, and just need to get what you can out over the span of many conversations. It's just best to keep communication going. :)

The Funny thing about your question if that girl looks in the mirror and thinks about what her ancestors might have done, it's actually possible! I love history, and I've studied a lot of myfamily history. I'm Part British (Mother is actually a British Citizen), Cuban, Scandinavian, German, Romanian, and Native American. I actually have looked in the mirror and considered the fact that my ancestors likely did a lot of pretty terrible things, but I'm also a history nut like I said so that's probably not normal.

And yes I agree it's a terrible mindset to fall into, it is far easier to hate due to ignorance then try to understand. Like I said I fell into it a few times after 9/11 but as I said it never went any further than thoughts and I did feel extremely guilty for it because I knew better. After 9/11 we as a culture just put all Muslims into one category and didn't really look back. Unfortunately when you reduce people to broad generalizations you dehumanize them, and broad generalizations are easy to hate.

My best friend is of Mediterranean decent as well, and he used to let his beard grow out, mainly out of laziness, and he would receive some of the same kind of treatment at random. Even got "extra screening" many times at the airport even even though he's american born, has no accent, doesn't even have a name that would make them suspicious. WAY too many people make snap judgements based on appearances alone.

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