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Habibi, Enough With The Shame Game: Sami Basbous

Sami Basbous Original Artwork: The Ascent - 105 x 140 cm 2023   January 21, 2024 Sami Basbous   I've been handed this hefty dose of shame, as if identifying...

Sami Basbous Original Artwork: The Ascent - 105 x 140 cm 2023


January 21, 2024

Sami Basbous


I've been handed this hefty dose of shame, as if identifying as a homosexual is something I should feel guilty about. But I refuse to accept their narrative. Shame starts with me, and however others decide to fling it my way is totally on them. Time to move past that nonsense and start asserting ourselves. It's been decades, and too many lives have been lost to this shame game.

Now, in Arabic, we have this phrase, "esta7e 3ala damak," roughly translating to 'shame on your blood.' I’m not sure if we realize how problematic this phrase is, especially when we throw HIV into the mix. Our culture is drowning in shame, and it's high time we break free.

Before we get into, let’s clarify the difference between guilt and shame? They’re totally different animals. Shame says I'm bad; guilt says I messed up. And we've got way too much of the former that we need to let go of in order to thrive.

One major antidote to shame is empathy. You know where this is going, right? We need to spread that empathy, share stories, warm narratives, and let them wash away the crap. Love will always win.

Facing that shame wall brick by brick is the key, or you end up surrounded by four walls. We've got heaps of shame in the Arab world and the LGBTQ+ community. It's like the first item on our to-do list – so let's fix that! 

Working on that shame takes courage, vulnerability, and a bit of self-growth. It's about ripping off that societal niqab and being fully seen. Is it uncomfortable to do? Oh, a hundred percent yes, but truth and courage aren't exactly cozy bedfellows.

Being ourselves is a political act, whether it’s political in the face of society or in the face of political agendas. But by being ourselves, not only are we helping our own self, we’re helping others break free from stigma, shame, and judgment. Courage, they say, is an internal act of faith. Faith in yourself and faith in humanity.

So, here we are, talking about everything that's killing us. It's time to turn the narrative around, say 'screw it,' and share our truths. Let's create a community where we can be our whole selves. Especially in the face of what's happening in Palestine. Let’s shout out our identity. I am Arab, I am homosexual, I am…whatever it could be. Let's turn the narrative on its head.

In a nutshell, let's crack the code, break down the walls of shame, and embrace our truths with a side of courage and empathy. Because love and acceptance? They'll always be the real winners. And bear in mind that you cannot find peace if you don’t free yourself.


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