"A Gay Girl in Damascus" bravely blogs and builds online following from Syria

"A Gay Girl in Damascus" bravely blogs and builds online following from Syria
A Gay Girl in Damascus blog

(CBS / What's Trending) - Homosexuality is illegal and taboo in Syria. That, however, didn't stop 34-year old Amina Abdullah from launching her own blog, "A Gay Girl in Damascus."

She speaks to What's Trending over email about deciding to risk her life and continue to share her brave stories with the world.

Abdullah describes her blog as "an out Syrian lesbian's thoughts on life, the universe and so on." She has built a following for her fearless and powerful accounts of life on the ground and out of the closet.

Abdullah notified her readers on May that she has gone "underground" and in hiding after security services came back again to find her.

A recent post titled, "My Father, the hero," recounts her father confronting two security agents who came to arrest her. They were accusing her of being a Salafist and a foreign agent. "MY DAD had just defeated them! Not with weapons but with words ... and they had left ... I hugged him and kissed him; I literally owe him my life now." What's Trending: How did this blog begin?

Amina Abdullah: I have been writing for a long time but never really done much for publication (besides some rejected science fiction stories!). I did regularly post comments on assorted websites but ... those were likely of no importance.

One day, I stumbled on the lezgetreal.com website and posted numerous comments ... and a little while later, I got an email from Paula inviting me to contribute. I did, and then set up a blog for my contributions plus some of my own writings. Until very recently, though, I assumed my readership was countable on single hand.

WT: Have you had to keep yourself and the blog secret?

AA: I never tried to do so. I assumed it was far too obscure for anyone to actually read it and didn't think it particularly necessary. In addition, my own day dream has been to encourage other women in Syria to be more upfront. I didn't realistically expect much!

WT: What have the responses been?

AA: Incredible! And almost entirely positive ... I have suddenly begun to be called "Damascus Gay Girl" by friends in the protest movement ... and gay or straight, they've been totally supportive

WT: Why are you hiding right now?

AA: I don't want to go to prison, though I am not scared of it. I believe I can do more for Syria free inside Syria than as a martyr.

WT: It seems while the web movement is creating change, there is still no major noticeable changes for equal rights.  What are you thoughts?

AA: We are building. My own guess is that nearly all Sunnis, and a great many from other groups are now with the opposition. And, we are closing in on victory.

WT: What is next for you, and what message do you have for those in the close and afraid to share their sexuality in Syria?

AA: Don't be: The worst thing we face is our own fear. If we want to be free, we must first overcome our own worst enemy, which is the one within us. It is that fear that has allowed the dictators to rule; it is that fear that keeps us as Arabs, as Muslims, as women and as lesbians trapped. If we stop being afraid within ourselves, we can achieve freedom. The prison of our own minds is the darkest place.

For me, it has sometimes seemed like it was harder to be out as an Arab Muslim woman in America than as a lesbian in Syria. Maybe I am lucky.

But, if we can be bold in who we are, we can achieve true freedom.


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    Shira Lazar is the Host and Executive Producer of CBSNews.com's new weekly live interactive show and 24/7 news hub, "What's Trending".