One of the lowest points in Michael El-Bacha’s life came on his wedding night. He felt like he’d disgraced his family because he couldn’t consummate his arranged marriage.
Now 39, El-Bacha, who’s from a strict Lebanese Christian background, was only 19 when he was told by his parents to leave Sydney’s Western suburbs and to marry his 16-year-old cousin in Lebanon.
He was trying desperately to ignore his feelings for other men, but with his parents checking the newlyweds’ bedsheets he would have to perform as best he could – and in 1996, the couple’s son was born.
Returning the Sydney, after years of questioning himself he eventually left his wife and came out onto the gay scene in a big way, becoming a male escort and losing himself in drugs for a while before falling in love.
El-Bacha has told his warts-and-all story in a powerful new book that’s just been released. He tells Same Same he’s the first gay man with his cultural and religious background to ‘come out’ so publicly.
“It’s not just a coming out story,” he says. “My journey will take you through depression, suicide, losing myself, love, struggle, and coming a full circle with acceptance and triumph. It gives hope with a purpose.
“I understand cultural restraints are unrealistic, therefore I aim to raise awareness for individuality,” he concludes.
“I truly believe my story will help many, no matter the race or beliefs.”
Michael El-Bacha’s book ‘Oh My God! Am I Alright?’ is now available at Sydney’s Bookshop Darlinghurst and Melbourne’s Hares and Hyenas bookstores. You can also buy it from the book’s website here.