Time is as fleeting as a scent that throws you without warning.
What is written on our faces will eventually be realized?
When our wings melt, we fall pocketless into our graves.
He taught me the radio song
And asked me to sing it at his grave
Icarus, Mashrou Leila
Spring is beautiful everywhere, but it is more beautiful in Lebanon.
“Alas rotas” (1912), Gibran Jalil Gibran
Middle East is one of those contemplatives, spiritual and mystical lands, which conceal and hide great heritages, riches and unexplored fortunes, however unknown to many earthly inhabitants. The Middle East is the birthplace of a great culture, as well as a great civilization that currently flows indirectly or directly in many European, Asian, American, and Arab countries. To name the Lebanese Republic is for countless people, a magical land, unique, cultured and with Western nuances, curious and diverse in equal parts. Lebanon has always been a country characterized by the historical legacy it has given us century after century, and to this day, it has not ceased to amaze, shock and strike us, reminding us at all times that the world is plural, diverse, apotheosis and unusual.
Beirut is one of those metropolises halfway between Europe, Asia, and the countries of the Monotheistic Deity of Allah. A remarkable city distinguished but atypical. A fusion between East and West that leaves no one indifferent. To understand with enthusiasm and exultation this eccentric republic, it will be necessary to fuse deeply within the cultural humanities of their country, to grasp the most precious beauty that it can offer us.
Brand new, no more than five years ago, four young Beirut architects who love people of the same sex, set up a music group –Mashrou Leila– with an emotional, moving, understanding, affective and transgressive nature. Deep melodies and songs with loving and vindictive airs, despised and repudiated by Lebanese anti-progressive society. A musical career that delivered and gifted with joy and enthusiasm to a tiny and stingy but existing audience, little respected and noted. Permanently persecuted by a masked and antiquated government with the desire to alienate an image of contemporary and avant-garde but of an anachronistic essence.
One of the most acclaimed songs of this young group is ‘Icarus’, an elegant song inspired by Icarus, son of the Daedalus God in Greek mythology. On the other hand, this sad melody urges us to think of the work ‘Dédalo e Ícaro’ by Frederick Leighton, a homoerotic novel about young people in ancient Greece and their adult mentors, with a striking, refined, graceful plot and distinguished but sexual and morbid. Intense and moving work from beginning to end.
Mashrou Leila, is one of those singular, unique and inspiring musical groups that emerge as a myth to help the social evolution of certain nations or homelands that are not very progressive but with a unique, special and latent essence.
The past is a prologue
“I like people to be unhappy because I like them to have souls.”
Virginia Woolf said on so many occasions that there can be no penetrating and intense happiness if there has not been a deep unhappiness before.
Life is a long journey, but at times it can be short and emotional or long and tiring. It all depends on how we live, our view of the facts and our personal management from a rather introspective point of view.
At the Fundació Catalunya Voluntària, we have always fought for equality, a latent and perpetual tolerance. An open, inspiring atmosphere and as a plural and rich office in all the cultural and human aspects had and to have.
So today we will share a couple of stories of people who are part of this human team and their trajectory, so far, in the 21st century, and first hand, how they have lived to be part of this group, which, day after day, it is more visible and open.
‘It was not until the day that I left my village determined to travel that I became more aware that it was totally normal, and where thousands of people were fighting, just like me, for visibility and the fight for rights. fundamental.’
Like many people, it was exceedingly difficult for me to express my feelings. A part of me had always denied this feeling for fear of being different or not fitting into a society. I felt different, a little out of place. I, like thousands of young people, also suffered the typical ‘bullying’ of school for being ‘different’ where of course children did not contemplate the consequences that this type of discrimination can bring.
It was not until the day that I left my village determined to travel that I became more aware that it was totally normal, and where thousands of people were fighting, just like me, for visibility and the fight for rights. fundamental. At that moment, I came out of the bubble that reigned in my reality, and I discovered a much wider world than I knew, I began to leave behind internalized homophobia to begin to understand that situation.
Meeting people who were in the same situation helped me become aware of reality but most of all I will learn to respect myself and see with complete normalcy what I was feeling.
It was at this precise moment that I decided it was time to take the plunge, that is, I began to be myself.
I have had various moments, especially in my village, discriminated against by my sexual condition where it ended up causing me an internalized homophobia, but thanks to the visibility of the group and thousands of people fighting for rights and freedoms I understood the situation. For this reason, I consider the fight against discrimination particularly important because the cause of it can lead to a person ending up disgusted by the simple fact of being so.
I believe in society, and in the advancement of it and I think we are on the right track, but we still have a long way to go. I have hope and I believe in a world where discrimination of any kind will end, because in society not everything is black or white, but a plural, heterogeneous, diverse, and respectful society.
‘Over time, labels have served to name groups, to give voice, and the possibility of struggle. They have been used to appropriate words used as insults, and to empower people who share experiences and ways of understanding life. They have served as a fighting flag. And they are still important. ‘
One of the greatest difficulties we encounter as human beings is breaking the frames of the reality we know. Start a path of unlearning everything we have been taught since we were born.
What is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’ are concepts that vary so much from person to person that from an early age I could not accept it. I remember all my things, that also my brother had, with one difference: their things were blue, and my roses. And in this simple way, the eternal battle that I still have today began. Doubting labels, everything that is simply why we did not think it could be different.
Over time, labels have served to name groups, to give voice, and the possibility of struggle. They have been used to appropriate words used as insults, and to empower people who share experiences and ways of understanding life. They have served as a fighting flag. And they are still important.
However, we must not allow these labels to become prisons. Labels become stereotypes, and stereotypes are another way of not doubting the established, of what it is, simply why it is. We must always be on this path of acceptance, of the freedom to let people live their gender, their sexuality, and their emotional bonds in the way they think is most appropriate — always, obviously, without harming no one.
Identity, and the freedom to live it, begins with the idea that there is no right way to feel, to love, to relate. We need to get to the point where we understand that in terms of identities, there is no such thing as ‘good’ and ‘bad’: there is one for each person, and that is more than enough. The right to be who we are.
‘Going through everything and creating my own world was my choice. Creating my own reality and completely ignoring what was around me made me feel comfortable, happy and calm. ‘
I do not remember when I was fully aware of my homosexuality. I know when I was seven, I was clear that I did not like girls, and I stuck with that idea. From then on, many classmates, especially classmates, would ask me if I had a girlfriend or what girls I liked. Even though I did not have a word to define my sexuality, it was a reality for me, that I girlfriends did not want.
When I was a teenager, I never suffered from bullying, I studied in a remarkably diverse, plural, progressive and not too hard high school. If I have ever been talked about on my back, it may be, I am not aware of it, and I do not care, ‘water you shouldn’t drink, let it run’.
Yes, I remember the high school years and the stages before college. A few hard years on a personal level, exhausting on a mental level and that if I remember now, I get nervous. Little by little, my brain has removed or freeze them and now, these are in the subconscious. I doubt I will ever look for them again, it is important to let the years go by, because the words are blown away by the wind, as are the memories.
When I studied in Barcelona, during my university years, I had in mind to have fun, to live in an open environment, to enjoy the magic of Barcelona and not too rural like the one that had surrounded me before. Today, at almost thirty years old, I think the worst years of my life were precisely the years as a student in Barcelona because I felt that I did not belong to that city, but, in a way, not to my own town.
For those things that life has, I was able to reside for a year outside my country, living a magical and fleeting experience in Poland, a country considered homophobic, one of the most intolerant in Europe. Well, it was in this country, where I discovered precisely that my discomfort had been due to my thoughts, and that ninety percent of my emotional instability was the result of my little responsibility as a person. You discover this when you are older and have more experience. The stage of the twenty is difficult and strange but rich in its essence by the learning that these offers to each anecdote or experience.
One of the best acquisitions I get from Poland is the following: attitude is much better than aptitude. If you are kind, others will be kind to you too.
With regard to the question of discrimination against the LGBT community, the only thing I can say with force is the following; no matter how many activisms are made, there are people who are so intellectually limited that they will never understand anything, not even sexual diversity, not an Oscar Wilde novel.
My advice? They are clear; almost anyone can study a college degree, so having a career is not a sign of intelligence, thinking, reasoning, understanding, respecting, accepting, and analysing, that is intelligence. I have concluded that people, no matter how old they are, and wherever they are from, if they are respectful, will put qualities above defects.
Respect yourself in order to be respected, and live and let live.