An Open Letter to Young Gay Men in Egypt



Here’s to a community that is continuously discriminated against. A community that is harassed, arrested, discredited and side-lined.


Hello Boys,

I am not a man of influence or vast knowledge, but I’d like to think that my past five years of living in Egypt as an out gay man and mediocre LGBT activist can shed some light as to how you could possibly navigate the disaster that is homosexuality in Egypt.

It is not my intention to preach, or to judge, or even tell you how to live your lives. Ultimately, what I hope to achieve is to help you realize that you, too, have the right to live a happy, healthy and fulfilling life.




1. Bullying




If you’re anything like me (which you may not be) and you have been, or are being, bullied by your heterosexual friends (who probably still don’t know you’re gay) for being “different” or even a little camp, know that half of these dudes are either self-hating human beings (who you don’t really want in your life), or just very closeted and they find themselves insecure around you.

You deserve to be around people who accept your differences and love you for them. Of course, if you’re a teenager, I know and you know and everyone knows that teenage boys (and girls) can sometimes behave like evil spawn’s illegitimate children, leading you to feel pretty helpless and worthless.

Don’t worry, it gets better. Trust me.




2. Never pretend to be someone you’re not




I personally still struggle with this, but I’ve been trying my best to overcome my need for continuous approval. I realised that whoever I pretend to be is usually someone I (as in my conscious self) would genuinely dislike, especially when I was still in the closet.

I’m not saying go out there and come out to everyone. What I’m saying is, if you like to buy Vogue and design dresses or even go to ballet class, do it! No one can stop you, nor should you give anyone the authority to get in the way of your potential.

The same advice goes for gay men who are surrounded by other gay men who have concrete definitions of what a gay man should be. These guys judge you relentlessly and call you “faux-gay” because you watch football, play rugby and don’t adhere to their gossip sessions and conversations about which top has the nicest body. Gay men can be as vicious as teenagers too, so don’t let their negativity get in the way of your happiness.




3. On Grindr, Tinder and dating applications




Fact: We live in Egypt, we don’t have any gay bars and, well, acting on your sexuality is punishable by law. Thus, your only real means of meeting people is online for Discreet Gay Dating.

Let’s face it, some guys online can be creepy. Never feel pressured to send any pictures; it is your body after all. Never meet someone who makes you feel uncomfortable. Never meet someone who blows you off repeatedly and only texts you when he wants sex (unless that’s the agreement you have). Finally, never judge dudes solely based on how much muscle they show in their headless torso picture.

I’d like to think I’m in decent shape and not “swipe left worthy”, and yet, some of the greatest dates I’ve been on and crushed on were with people who weren’t my type. And some of the biggest assholes I’ve met were guys who were “my type”.




4. Dem one-night stands




One thing that bums me out about gay dudes here is the state of continuous, unnecessary hyper-sexuality. I’m not referring to guys who enjoy a more liberal sex life — which in no way should be something people shame you for — I’m referring to guys who seek out continuous emotional satisfaction through one-night stands.

We’re all guys, we all have physical needs, but meeting someone for a quick sesh of hanky panky can (more often than you think) leave you feeling empty inside. Make sure you’re in the right emotional and psychological state when doing it.




5. On coming out




Whoa! Here’s the big one. When I came out to my family, I expected a storm of hate to hit me in the face. After all, this is Egypt and no matter how hip your parents pretend to be, they are still Arab parents.

I was surprised by my family’s reaction. My brothers were a breeze, and I am forever indebted for that (one of my brothers drunkenly went out with his wife and bought me a rainbow badge to put on my T-shirt).

My father, being the Superdad he is, didn’t flinch for one second, even though I knew he was concerned and definitely not 100% okay with it. However, being the amazing devoted father he is, he never let it get in the way of anything and was always supportive of my previous relationship and eager to meet my former partner.

My mother, on the other hand, was not as easy. Her first words when I told her four years ago were, “ya khosara”, which to me, was way more painful than “get out of the house”. It took us about a year to be able to speak about it again. I think she only came around fully when she saw how destroyed I was during my breakup.

That being said, with all the tension between us, I am unbelievably grateful for that woman. She stuck by me even though she didn’t believe that I was living my life in the way she’d ever want me to.

This brings me to my most important point: Even though my parents are very different than most Egyptian parents, Every. Single. Parent. Comes. Around.

I’ve been advocating for LGBT rights in Egypt for four years now. I’ve met men and women from tiny villages in Minya to Mansoura who, in one way or another, were outed to their parents. Never have I ever seen a case where both parents gave up on their kids. Usually, both come around (mothers faster than fathers), or at least one of them does. Yes, they try to force their kids into reparative therapy and yes, they shame them, yell at them and often times temporarily disown them, but trust me when I say this: None of it is permanent.

I understand a big fear of coming out isn’t just lack of acceptance; heck, it’s mostly about fear of damaging the ones you love beyond repair. That being said, yes, there will be damage; however, it’s never beyond repair. If you do choose to ever come out, make sure you only do it when you’re comfortable and are already surrounded by people who support you for who you are. For a while after you do come out, you will feel rather alienated. But again, it gets better.




6. Security (a very important one)




Never give your number to someone online who seems sketchy. Never ever send pictures of your private parts that show your face (don’t send them in general, to be safe). Always tell a friend whom you trust where you are if you’re meeting a guy for the first time. Finally, be very discrete about where you meet up and don’t ever think it’s okay for you to fool around in a car. It always ends badly. Trust me.

Don’t put yourself at risk for a little bit of sex. The consequences of getting caught when you’re not ready can be very detrimental.




7. Sex




It’s your body. If you meet a guy and decide to change your mind about sleeping with him, don’t feel obliged, it’s your body. If a guy is forceful with you sexually, leave. It’s your body. If a guy is too touchy at a party and you’re uncomfortable, call him out on his BS and leave. It’s your body.

Unless you’re in a committed relationship where you trust your partner and you’ve both been tested rigorously, always wear a condom. I don’t care if he tells you you’re the first person he’s ever had unprotected sex with or if he tells you he just got tested. He’s probably lying. Don’t put yourself at risk for an STI. No glove, no love; full stop.




8. On love




Another very important one.

Don’t be discouraged by the amount of guys online who solely want to have sex. If love is what you’re looking for (in whatever shape or form), then you keep staying true to yourself until you find the right person.

Even in Egypt, that right person exists, so don’t give up on it. You never know, you may, one warm February night, meet a sparkly-eyed gentleman at a Total gas station who you end up summiting mountains with and going on crazy adventures with to places you’d never imagined to see with unfamiliar names like Nungwi and Tabatinga.

That being said, relationships are tiring and hard work, especially if you’re gay here. No one really recognizes your relationship, you are probably not out to your families, and that eventually takes a toll. So, just take it one step at a time and play it cool.

Never agree to a relationship dynamic you’re not okay with just to be with the guy. There’s three and a half billion other men in the world, of which (statistically) 350 million are gay, so trust me, there are plenty of fish in the sea.




In the end, learn to love yourselves and love others and never give up on what you want and who you are, because if you lose that, what else do you have left?


Yours truly,

Ahmed A.R.




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