I remember the first time I became aware of my attraction to men-- I was probably around 10 years old and flipping through a clothing catalogue with men in underwear and thought, ‘Why can’t I peel my eyes away?’ I remember asking myself why I was different and being frustrated about why I didn’t like girls. I remember having arguments with my dad; he told me ‘be a man’ pretty frequently. I remember being conflicted every time I went to church and asked myself if I belonged there. From a young age, I had to hide myself and sacrifice my authenticity to minimize humiliation and judgement. This journey of indescribable conflict has shaped me into a different version of myself, and the struggle has been a painful battle. In my experience, being queer in a Coptic community is like trying to mix oil and water. No matter how hard or fast you stir, the two will eventually separate.
I live with my beautiful boyfriend, but still struggle to tell people I grew up with about him. Every day I learn more about myself, and it all seems right, yet there is a part I keep hidden. The repulsion for homosexuality is so heavily ingrained in the Coptic faith. I grew up in the church and attended 3-4 times a week. As I grew confidence in my sexuality, I began to distance myself from the church and no one reached out to check in. People who I spent so much of my life with didn’t seem to care; I decided this was a turning point. I still strongly believe in Jesus and see His power working in my life, but I have lost faith in the people who are supposed to be the ones who preach love. I look toward the future, and I am hopeful for a world where I can be who I am and love who I want without fear. I’m hopeful for a future in which the queer Coptic community is accepting without conditions or hesitation.