Arab homosexuality is often perceived as surprising: how to reconcile this orientation with the oppression of the cultural environment? On the other hand, we tend to observe it only through the male prism, even more when we focus on the suburbs. Certainly, the ‘block culture” crystallizes a form of virility sometimes toxic, but do we not forget the lesbians evolving in these districts?

Silent or even invisible figures, they walk their path the best they can, without necessarily finding the space to express themselves. Caught between social pressure and tradition, ZACKARIUM met one of them to learn more about her daily life…

Credits: Two women dancing at the Moulin-Rouge – Toulouse Lautrec (1892)
Hi Nadia*, how are you?

Very good! Glad to be here.

Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

I’m almost 26. I live in Aulnay-sous-Bois (in Paris suburb, editor’s note), I have always lived there. And I’m a recreation center host. So much for the base! (laughs)

You’ve asked me to meet you at FAT, a bar in Paris. For what reason?

This is where I had my first date with my last girlfriend. I’ve been here quite a bit since then.

You’re not together anymore?

Nope. It lasted five-six months, but it’s over now.

Can you tell us why?

She was an open dyke. For me, it’s different: no one knows, except for two or three people. She had enough of it. I understand her, but she wanted more than I could give her.

Have you ever thought about coming out?

Think about it, of course, but it’s impossible. The question doesn’t arise, I would be disowned by my whole family.

Due to religion?

Yeah, but not only. In fact, religion is there but not that much: some deal all day long, others already drink at noon down the block. There are chicks golddigging, too. Finally, the only really religious people in the neighbourhood are the mothers (laughs). But homosexuality is inconceivable for them.

Who’s “them”?

My family, my friends, my neighbours… Everyone I know.

Are you in a relationship today?

No. I see girls here and there, but nothing serious.

How do you meet them?

Mostly by Tinder.

How do you see the future?

I wish I could leave the projects, but it’s complicated. Theoretically, I have no reason to leave my parents’ place if I don’t get married. I don’t think that’s fair. I didn’t choose to be born here, but it will follow me all my life… •

This article is part of the #6 — Between fantasy and reality: the Arab woman today series.

*Upon request, the first name has been changed.

(Cover photo credit: The two friends by Toulouse Lautrec — 1895).