My name is Hasan. I’m a young man who works with the LGBTI community in Jordan, which is a conservative Middle Eastern country. I’m writing to tell you about my father who passed away two months ago. I would love to tell you about our great relationship but words cannot describe the support he gave me. So I would like to write to him directly in the hope that he will be listening from somewhere …
“My dear father, I wish I had a true chance to thank you enough for being who you are, and to thank you for supporting me emotionally as no one has ever understood my emotions the way you do. Thank you for loving me for who I was and accepting me for the person I was determined to become.
I remember when I first came out to you discreetly, without telling anyone else in the family because I was confused about my feelings, I knew that you would not be violent towards me or disown me, but I never expected your reaction when you told me nothing had changed and that I needed to be strong instead of being afraid and shameful.
I knew that you truly loved me regardless, unlike many Arab parents who want their children to be the way they want them to be and place so much expectation and pressure on them to fit a certain image to please them and society. I really admire you for the way you dealt with me and my siblings in respecting our choices and perspectives. We grew up to be fearless and you have taught us to be fair, kind, independent; to be a rebel and to be open.
In the last day of your life you kept discussing with me my future plans and you asked me to continue achieving my dreams. You hoped I would find a scholarship for a masters degree and encouraged me to continue the work I’m doing with the LGBT and marginalised communities.
When you told me that one day people would appreciate my work and I would set an example as a leader, I panicked. Then I called my sister in the early hours telling her that you kept me awake to talk about things that could have been discussed at any time and not at midnight when I should have been in bed before a day’s work.
I remember I told you: ‘Baba we can talk and discuss this stuff later’.
You looked at me and said: ‘I’m sorry, but I felt the need to tell you now that I’m so proud of you.’
Your last words were ‘I’m proud of you’, and now I want to tell you that I’m proud of you as my father, I’m proud of my siblings who continue to carry the love and the pride that you gave to us. We learned how to love truly and unconditionally in a time and world you can’t find this kind of love.