Rainbow Street was formed because of the need of a close friend. That friend is Osama. After learning he had been disowned by his family because of his sexual identity, the absence of a safety net for LGBT identified people in the Arab Word living in crisis became acutely evident. Osama was in real danger and lacked the basic necessities of life: safe housing, food, and emotional support.
Since the formation of Rainbow Street, Osama has his sights set on a more hopeful future. Thanks to countless donations and messages of support, we’ve helped Osama find the resources to regain stability as he finishes his studies and plans for a secure and independent future.
As Rainbow Street continues to grow and expand its scope to connecting more beneficiaries to safe housing, a network of support, and resources necessary to form individualized long term plans, we felt it was appropriate to feature the story of the person who prompted our efforts in his own words.
RS: What are the realities of being gay in Jordan for you?
O: It means being under stress all the time and being afraid of everybody around you, because if someone gets to know the real you, then you will see how much they are against you. Their love will disappear at the same moment they find out.
It means not being stable in anything you do. I changed my dorm twice because my father found out where I lived. I had to leave a translation job because my boss thinks gays will have sex with anyone and that it’s a sin.
It means being a double character, like saying that marriage is only okay between a man and a woman, and acting straight. It means being not you and being away from home, out of love, and out of the best things you have had.
RS: Have you ever felt the need to conceal your identity in public? If so, how do you do it?
O: I always conceal my identity in public because I need to protect my life and not put it in danger. I had a fake Facebook account just for talking with other gay people. I had a two-year relationship with a girl just to conceal my identity in front of my family and society in general.
RS: I can see how being suddenly rejected by your family could make focusing on anything else difficult. How have these trying circumstances impacted your studies?
O: My father told me I was not his son and disowned me. My studies were impacted more than anything else because I had to beg my professors to give me exams in a different time than the time given on the university calendar, because my father could easily find out. He is good at those things.
I wear makeup, a veil, and an abaya until I get to campus everyday. Then I remove it all, take my classes, and leave.
I was fired from the internship I was doing because my father called them and told them that I have a history of stealing money. I had to find another place to take my training at.
RS: You organized a fundraising campaign that allowed you to continue school after your scholarship unexpectedly ran out. How did it feel to have people rally around you and meet your need in that situation?
O: It was the greatest favor I have ever received. That was Heaven for me and I would like to thank everyone still donating to me. To you all I am so grateful. Thank you for saving me.
RS: What effect has Rainbow Street had on your daily experience and quality of life?
O: Sorry, but words are not enough. You know the feeling of safety and support that Rainbow Street is giving me.
Rainbow Street made me understand two things: Family is not about blood, and what makes us closer is much more than what makes us different.
RS: Do you have any regular hobbies that give you time to relax?
O: The only hobby I can practice without problems is cooking.
RS: In the best case scenario, where do you see yourself in 5 years? What obstacles will you have to overcome to get there?
O: I see myself holding a B.A. of Applied Linguistics and living outside of Jordan, having my own life and being successful.
DONATE to Rainbow Street and enable us to connect more LGBT people living in crisis in the Arab World to a more hopeful future.