There is a fairly old Turkish song I listen to from time to time entitled “Yalan” – or Lies. In the song, the singer keep repeating the words:

“Yalan başkası yalan. Dünyada ölümden başkası yalan.”

Lies, it’s all lies. In the world anything but death is a lie.

I find comfort in this song, because at times I find it to be fairly true. Like countless others, as a gay man who’s been in the closet ever since he turned 13, telling lies is a daily routine.

We lie to our parents, nodding our heads when they go on and on about our wedding and the grandchildren to come. We lie to our distant family and friends, pretending to actually find that big breasted woman who passed by attractive when in fact we were too busy noticing the guy with the handsome face standing next to her. We finally lie to ourselves, telling ourselves that it’ll get better if we just stay the course and take things a day at a time, as if by some miracle our parents’ homophobic ideals will just wash away.

Yes, as closeted gay men, we have become the masters of lying, taking each lie and plastering it into the masks which we wear to please others. Each one a different shape, formed from different circumstances. Each one colored by our creativity, held together by the dried blood shed from the hurtful things we hear on a weekly basis. Then, a smile carefully carved into each mask, as to not give away the true expression underneath.

Sometimes I’m startled by how good of a liar I’ve become, far from that innocent young boy who shared his first kiss with his best friend. It’s almost as if I’m losing track of where the masks end and where my true face begins, and it’s terrifying.

I wish I could tear all the masks I’ve so carefully crafted to bits and pieces, burn them to ashes, and finally show my face to the world, the whole world, not just to the selective accepting few.  There are many who have, mostly white men coming from liberal backgrounds, or others that have just put aside their families and homophobic friends and started anew.

The reality is, however, that at the end of the day, I’m neither from an accepting family, nor do I have the strength or will power to throw my family and friends away. So I keep on wearing the masks that society has forced me to create.

I can only hope that I’m not buried with them…


About thepersiancloset

Hey there! I'm a gay Iranian-American raised in the US, studying Dentistry and hoping to open up my own practice some day. Being brought up in a Persian household proved (and proves!) to be difficult when my very liberal gay self clashes with the more conservative members of the household. Follow me on a week to week journey of growing up Gay in the Persian closet!
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2 Responses to Masks

  1. BG says:

    Hi I encourage you to keep blogging (or at least journaling) in order to stay sane during this period of your life. I won’t be so quaint to say everything will “get better”, but I have some understanding of what it’s like. While it’s impossible to leave your family, know that when it comes to the gay issue you are the mature adult and family members are the naive children; some will remain children but most will grow and learn to the best of their ability. They share your difficulty in dealing with this issue so cut them a little slack. Moving forward 100% of your family’s attitude toward homosexuality is now taken from the attitude you show them. This is key. When they meet “the one” if you are hesitant in any way, then they assume that something is wrong. If you are unyieldingly confident about your love for your man AND for them, then they’ll assume that it’s not quite as awful as the mullahs portrayed. It’s worked out that way for me and my Iranian boyfriend. IMO being Iranian-American you are a major catch for any guy. And you shouldn’t settle for anyone who cannot love your parents and family as much as you obviously do.

  2. Hey BG,

    Thanks for the visit and your kind words!

    I definitely agree that my attitude towards the issue influences them, although I also know that they were raised in a highly stubborn environment and often have the ‘my way or the highway’ attitude. Only time will tell.

    I look forward to the day when I meet the guy who I can support and present to my parents with pride, regardless of their reaction.

    Good luck to you two, say salam to him for me =)

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