Dear Pigeon Guts: Can "It Get Better" If You Live in Qatar?

Published: February 11, 2011

Dear Pigeon Guts: I’m a transfer student in the U.S. from a tiny little country called Qatar. Lots of GLBTQ online media is blocked by our government (I was sad when I went home last summer and couldn’t access AfterElton.com!), but I’ve been a good follower of it since I’ve been able to. My question is mainly towards the type of "it gets better" talk that takes place. Most of what I hear is "high school sucks, stick it out, it will get better after that and your family/friends may or may not be okay with it eventually."

That really says nothing at all to someone from a similar culture as mine, because: 1) Though high school still sucks, there is no "going off to college" or making your own life: most kids aren’t expected to move out until they’re married, and some don’t move at all even after that. Very few people actually get their own place before marriage (and even fewer without ever getting married) but those are "oddballs" everyone stares at, talks about, and stays away from (and isn’t an option for single women either). 2) It’s a family-oriented culture. My family, direct or distant, would almost always use "we" when they mean "I" – everything we do has to always be viewed from a full family perspective, not an individual’s. It’s rarely an option. At the same time, your countless amount of cousins are your friends as well as family, so to come out or pretty much do anything out of the norm is, almost literally, to lose everyone you know.

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