Michael El-Bacha: Busting out of the closet
One man's story of being culturally trapped into leading a heterosexual lifestyle against his will is making waves in the community. Ron Hughes reports.
When Michael El-Bacha came out publicly last October in a Network Ten news bulletin about arranged marriages, it was a watershed moment in his life.
The son of Lebanese Christian parents from Sydney's Western suburbs, El-Bacha had undergone an arranged marriage with his then 16-year-old cousin when he was just 19, despite the fact he suspected he was attracted to other men.
As a teenager, El-Bacha fought those feelings because, as he told Gay News Network, “I couldn’t be gay – there was no room in my background to be gay.”
The marriage lasted between two and three years, and the couple had a son before El-Bacha realised he could no longer live a lie.
His journey since then has been a difficult one, and has taken him to some very dark places, but today El-Bacha is out and proud, sharing his experiences on his blog - which is moderated by his son Buddy - and his much anticipated book Oh My God! Am I Alright? is now on the bookstores.
El-Bacha is driven to tell his story for the sake of other men and women who find themselves culturally trapped into leading bogus heterosexual lifestyles.
Although he has no instructions to give, he believes that simply sharing his experiences will help others and particularly help their families to understand and be more supportive of their gay and lesbian children.
It's a painful story and a brave one and well worth reading for people who feel trapped between cultures - and for the rest of us to better understand their dilemma.
Copies of Michael El-Bacha's book can be ordered through his blog ohmygodamialright.blogspot.com.au
Oh My God! Am I Alright? is also now available from the Bookshop Darlinghurst in Sydney and Hares and Hyenas in Melbourne.