Over the past week I’ve been on holiday in Amsterdam, which is a gorgeous city I’d visited once before during Queens Day Weekend back in 2011.
A ‘friend’ of mine, “H”, lives in Amsterdam so I decided to use my current time off (will explain soon in another posting) to do a bit of traveling and get out of London for a bit.
H is Moroccan and Muslim.. and is fairly closeted about being gay. He’s a nice enough guy and was generous of him to allow me to come stay at his apartment again while in Amsterdam (and I’ll discuss how that went in yet another post soon…).
Anyway, one thing Amsterdam has going for it is that they have an actual Arabic Gay bar! Well, it’s actually Egyptian and owned by a straight guy, but is very welcoming to all, regardless of where they come from.
The first time I came to visit H in 2011, we tried to find this bar one night when he’d gotten off work, but couldn’t find it for some reason.. So this time we went there right away after I’d arrived, and ended up there 3 nights in a row as this seems to be one of the only gay bars H goes to regularly.
The cool thing about this place is it’s very friendly, though the guys from different cultures (i.e. Egyptian, Moroccan, Turkish, etc) don’t necessarily interact unless there’s a friend or whatever in common.
And by going to this bar I got to try shisha for the first time. It’s a lot smoother than smoking a cigarette or a joint, and can come in a variety of flavors.. H kept getting an apple flavor cause that was what he liked.
Anyway, what I found so fascinating about this bar is how this was a place where any Arabic or Muslim gay man (or woman, though only saw a couple of straight women there) can come and be with others just like them.
Of course anyone who’s knows me fairly well knows that I’ve gone out with and befriended several Arabic/Muslim guys over the past couple of years. And from my experience of knowing these Arabic or Muslim men there is easily one common denominator – they’re all pretty much closeted and have no plans of ever changing that.
While in Amsterdam I spent a bit of time with a sexy Egyptian guy called “B” who I met at this bar, and we talked about the whole being closeted thing and how it makes things difficult when it comes to talking to one’s family about your life. B moved to Amsterdam from Cairo several years ago to live with his boyfriend (who’s Dutch), and they have a great life together it seems.
However B is constantly getting pressure form his family to get married to a woman, and recently his parents kept talking to him about the daughter of a family friend whom B has never met.. and they immediately offered to talk to her parents to arrange the marriage. He’s obviously declined their offer, though he still gets pressure from them since he is now 26 and should be married by this age according to them.
Obviously I cannot imagine what it’s like for B or H (he was previously married) and the pressures they have to go through from their cultures to get married and start families of their own. I count myself very lucky to have grown up in a Western culture that is more open minded about all of this and I can live my life openly without pressure.
Hopefully some day soon, that will change for people like B or H, and everyone can just live their lives as openly as they choose to.