In Saudi Arabia, homosexuality is a crime punishable by death. Forget about gay marriage. Gay rights are virtually non-existent, so most LGBT Arabs lead deeply closeted lives.
We’re using AJ’s initials because not everyone in her family knows that she’s a lesbian. If 34-year-old AJ could go back in time and tell her 17-year-old self that she’d stop wearing hijab, own a car and have a girlfriend one day, she says her younger self would have never believed it.
“My mom was very strict,” AJ says. “I really couldn’t go out with friends, couldn’t leave the house or visit friends, or do anything.”
But even while living under her mother’s thumb, AJ began to realize she was different.
“I always had a crush on women,” she says.
“Another fun fact about Saudi — it’s very normal for females to have a crush on another female,” she says. “But then when it became more sexual, that’s where you drew the line.”
AJ had no one to talk with about what she was feeling, so she went online.
“I took to Google, looked up my symptoms. Google tells me I’m gay. And I’m like, ‘oh no I’m not.’”
Her reluctance to accept it wasn’t because she grew up Muslim — she says she was never a believer, despite coming from a religiously conservative home. She didn’t want to be gay because it’s nearly impossible to lead an open, honest life in Saudi as a queer person.
Continue reading: https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-07-22/what-its-grow-lesbian-saudi-arabia (source)
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