At 19 years of age, Michael El Bacha wanted to be like everybody else. Born to Christian Lebanese migrant parents, he was the second eldest in a family of seven. Yet growing up in western Sydney he felt different to his five brothers who were into rugby league, fast cars and fast girls.
And it was girls that he had the least interest in. Before he could experiment with his sexuality his parents sensed something was “wrong” and whisked him off to Lebanon where he was forced to get to know his 16 year old cousin Fifi.
Before Michael knew it, he was standing at the alter preparing to marry his first cousin after knowing her for a matter of weeks.
Michael and Fifi were coerced to have sex to consummate the marriage and upon returning to Australia, Fifi gave birth to their son Buddy.
The marriage lasted less then three years when Michael could no longer deny one very important thing. He was gay.
Unable to come out to his staunchly Catholic and homophobic family Michael fled his suburban home and found refuge in Oxford Street where he slept with a man for the first time. It was then he knew that he was unmistakenly gay.
From threatening to shoot him, to hiring a private investigator - his family's determination to put an end to his homosexuality was unrelenting.
After Michael's family tried to spike his drink with a religious potion aimed at ridding him of his homosexuality, Michael slipped into a world of despair where work as an escort financed his life of drugs and promiscuous sex.
Michael is now 34 years old and his family still don't acknowledge his sexuality.
A gay Lebanese friend who was rejected from his family took his own life. A year later Michael swallowed several sleeping pills to do the same, it was a text message from his 13 year old son that saved his life.
Michael now wants to share his story with other gay Australians born to Middle Eastern parents who live a life of fear and rejection.
This book is also aimed at friends and family of gay Australians of a Middle Eastern background. Its not a choice. In a culture where the family unit reigns supreme, why would we choose to be shunned by the people we love the most?