Revolution Journal – October 2011
October is still vague in my memory – I do not remember when things happened exactly, but I do remember what happened. For the first time in years, Damascus nights were getting colder in October. It felt like a normal weather, but everything else was far from being normal.
I was finally able to talk to my family and discuss what had happened. Something was built up which I did not have the energy to destroy – I was exhausted and disappointed. Exhaustion came from everything; the active work in the revolution, the problem I was having with my uncles, and the gay life in Damascus. As for disappointment, it was because I have sacrificed so much in my life for my family and I felt betrayed by everyone.
We carried on our leaflets distribution. On a night when we did so, the pressure broke me completely. I cried and told my best friend what had happened earlier with my uncles and my sister. She was the only who could understand me at that point because she knows everything about me. Being the great friend she is, she never commented and said anything; she just offered hugs and a box of tissues.
My brother came to Damascus to do his medical tests, but to be on the safe side, I had already packed and moved to a friend’s place to avoid any kind of problems with my uncles. When I was with my brother for his colonoscopy, Damascus fountains were dyed in red to symbolize the Syrian blood lost in the revolution. It was an awing and horrifying scene. I wish I can explain more about the idea and how it was planned, but that might endanger my friends in Syria.
On the same day, I had my last and final argument with my uncles who showed up in the clinic. While I was waiting for my brother to be out of his session, my uncle started threatening me even more violently, “Even though I believe the army is killing soldiers in the frontline, and even though I believe the army is responsible for the killings that are being reported. I can’t defect. I have a family to take care of. We are all getting calls about your suspicious activities. What do you want? To fuck around with men freely? This is not going to happen in Syria!” That’s true, it will not happen in Syria under a regime killing its people and trying to spur a civil war in the country.
My uncle sounded like all the “silent majority” in Syria who were trying to convince themselves that there are at least some truth behind the regimes propaganda – a 2% truthfulness would have been good enough for them to be content with being silent; this is what the revolution media activists were serving at that point.
Exaggerated news started to reach the media; some of them were actually leaked by the regime who had a plan to discredit the news and appear as the victim to the Syrian public. Some civilian journalists served that very well with exaggerated and, sometimes, false reports. We also started to get worried by the calls to form a “Free Syrian Army”. We had to find ways to verify news and violations of human rights from both sides. We found our reliable sources which confirmed that up to that point, violations on the revolution side were not as grave as they started to become later.
My mother came to Damascus for a chemo round. When I went to meet her and told her that I was planning to leave, she said, “yes, please leave”. It was the first time she accepts that I might go faraway from them and we might not meet for a long time. Even though I have moved out from my family’s house since I was 18, I was always close and there for them whenever they needed me – my mother always felt content with that.
Thanks to her brothers and brothers-in-law, I had to say goodbye to my mother in a hospital ward. It still hurts me that we never had much time to say goodbye. She held back her tears, and so did I. They left to Hama, while I went to my friend’s place to plan another leaflet distribution – a last active work for Syria, in Syria, before I leave.
We were about to be questioned that night as well, but this time we rehearsed a fight and even a beating up. Nobody dared to come close to us when were calling each other all the bad words that exist in the Syrian dialect – we even borrowed some other words from other languages. It went well, but we had to leave while still having some leaflets with us.
I had to act normal with my gay friends. We got drunk on Qasioun mountain one night and danced till 3 in the morning. I was also meeting them frequently at nights and have the same silly gayish conversations we used to have.
One night, while I was going to meet my gay friends after a round of meetings with activists, I was stopped by a young man who was a part of the National Union of Syrian Students. He wanted to go through my bag, which still had some leaflets from the other night. When I realized that, I had to come up with something. The man was a civilian, but he said, “This is my NUSS ID. I also have a gun”. I told him that NUSS were students while I was not, furthermore, I was not even on campus. He said, “We are doing this to protect you”, to which I replied with, “You are threatening me with a gun, I don’t see how is that protecting me… I need someone to protect me from you.” I insisted on having a police on official duty, but there were not any. The only police officer was off duty, so I called my secret police friend and had him have a heated conversation with those men. I was able to get myself out of shit once more. Having those leaflets is punishable by at least 15-year imprisonment under Syrian laws – there was no need to frame me up with anything.
Media-wise, the amazing Shueibi continued his farce on Addounia TV. The homophobic innuendos continued with an added element – masons. In this video, he “expose” the prince of Qatar as a mason who had been trying to make Bashar a mason, but the latter was rejecting because it was against Islam. Like killing innocent civilians, women, and children is not. Oh fuck, who cares? It was always funny to see him blabbing.
Bouthaina Shaaban became emotional on an Independent interview because she “was afraid to visit her mother’s grave in Homs on her second anniversary”. To which most Syrians said, “well bitch, mothers in Syria don’t even know where their children are buried”.
I went to Marjeh Square to say goodbye to a friend, when I saw pigeons in the Square for the first time. It was a surreal scene – pigeons, which are supposed to be a symbol of peace, are in the same place where armed security forces and shabbiha were deployed. I told my friends that I thought those pigeons should not be there and the man feeding them should be near the Omayyad mosque. He said, “those are the pigeons who were near the Omayyad and this is the same man who was there”. I joked about it saying, “Why were they “moved” here? Will the regime actually arrest them for “gathering” near the Omayyad and “protesting”? My friend laughed about it and he said that he did not think so. I said, “well don’t be surprised if they do that. A regime that kill donkeys might arrest pigeons… they are stupid enough to do it, especially that messenger pigeons are banned in Syria since Hafez Assad came to power”.
Here is the video of the “donkeys massacre”, which happened in September 2011.
I left Damascus to Aleppo where I stayed for about four days. Before leaving Damascus, I had to post something to say that all LGBT people should join the revolution. I had already worked with many actively involved LGBT people before that, but I had something to say. Homophobia won in my case even before the regime did. Homophobia and political activism exiled me from my country. I will write about my last day in Damascus and the few days I spent in Aleppo later.
- Revolution Journal – September 2011 (syriangayguy.wordpress.com)
- Revolution Journal – August 2011 (syriangayguy.wordpress.com)
- Revolution Journal – July 2011 (syriangayguy.wordpress.com)
- Revolution Journal – May and June 2011 – Media (syriangayguy.wordpress.com)
- Revolution Journal – June 2011 (syriangayguy.wordpress.com)
- Revolution Journal – May 2011 (syriangayguy.wordpress.com)
- Revolution Journal – April 2011 (syriangayguy.wordpress.com)
- Revolution Journal – March 2011 (syriangayguy.wordpress.com)
- Revolution Journal – February 2011 (syriangayguy.wordpress.com)
- Revolution Journal – January 2011 (syriangayguy.wordpress.com)