In moments of secrecy and shame like these, the Arabness and Americanness of my inner self seem to be most tense, conflicting, and painful.This secrecy not only brings the shame of feeling like I am constantly doing something wrong, but it also separates two spheres in my life.With my stricter Druze family, I am expected to act like a perfect Arab woman, one who is essentially dateless and sexless until her Druze wedding.I’ve never been strongly attracted to, let alone fallen in love with, a Druze man.All of my friends are non-Druze, and most of my friends are non-Arab-American, a situation that is common for many Druze individuals in the United States.Druze is a monotheistic religion centralized in the Middle East with fewer than two million people worldwide.
Therefore, any person I would like to be with, I would have to hide from my stricter Druze relatives.
This secrecy causes a lot of shame when Druze people, especially women like myself, date non-Druze people.
The pressure to love within my small religion (and the pressure not to love beyond it) was a foreign concept to my non-Druze friends who never had restrictions. I was drowning in the traditional, heterosexual American narrative of romance–that you fall in love, you get married, and you settle your life with your romantic partner.
For American Druze like myself, you aren’t supposed to love whoever you want; your entire romantic narrative must fit the Druze mold.
As you can imagine, not a single soul, besides my brother, in my elementary, middle, or high school was Druze. In a country with so little Druze people, how are we expected to fall in love with someone who comes from our same small, Levantine religion?Nevertheless, many American-dwelling Druze people are still expected to find Druze love despite this disproportion.