My Children Are Ashamed of Me

2018

I feel like my children have become uneasy around me because of the time I did in jail.
They don’t treat me like I’m their mother.
“Well, you have been to jail,” my siblings say.
“You act like someone who’s been in jail.”
social stigma, prison

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In Love With Another Girl

2019

We were walking down the street, holding hands.
A man passed us by and laughed in derision.
“What are you in love or something?”
social stigma, sexuality, harassment, the street

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Before Hijab

2014

Noha and I are old friends.
Right before she and I started wearing the hijab, we went to rent a beach house.
Our hair was down and we were wearing summer clothes.
I can’t begin to tell you how well they treated us.
They were very respectful.

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The Struggle to please everyone

2017

Ever since I was a kid, I struggled to please everyone around me. I tried to look they way they wanted me to.
“Wear this”. Okay.
“Get a haircut”. Okay.
“Dancing isn’t allowed”. Okay.

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Possibly a boy, possibly a girl

2018

I was subjected to derisive comments on an almost daily basis.
The one I got the most was a quote from one of Mohamed Saad’s movies: “Possibly a boy, possibly a girl”.
I got that practically every day.
At the beginning, I’d usually yell and fight with the person who said it.
Until one time, I got into a fight with a guy who made fun of my hair.
masculinity, bullying, gender violence, harassment, social stigma, the street

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The Complaint

2019

It happened during an Arabic lesson,
Which took place at the library.
The teacher played a tape about the punishments of the grave.
I, in addition to another student, were the only Chrisitians in the classroom.
The sheikh on the tape was insulting Christianity.
So we excused ourselves from the library,
Because we didn’t like hearing those insults.

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During Ramadan

2017

Out of nowhere, a taxi swerved and stopped right in front of me like it was a police car and I was some criminal on the run.
An elderly woman stepped out of the taxi.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing dressed like that?”
I was wearing loose-fitting blue jeans and a black t-shirt. My tightly-coiled hair hung about my face untied.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.

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It’s called “Bipolar Disorder”

2018

I can sleep for very long hours
Or become sluggish and eat all day.
Then suddenly, I can sleep very little hours, barely eat anything, finish a lot of work in such a short time, and have tremendous energy to move around.
mental health, depression, social stigma

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We Weren't Playing

2016

I’m a guy.
I was ten years old at the time.
We were living in a family house,
Which meant I was oftentimes left alone with other family members.
They’d tell me they were just going to play with my toys,
But we never actually played with them.

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He Used Me as His Punching Bag

2017

After 12 days of marriage,
Full of hitting, swearing, and being rude,
I called his brother.
He told me the same old garbage:
“He’s young. He’ll change. Be patient.”
domestic violence, gender violence, physical violence, addiction, marriage, divorce, social stigma

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