My Coming Out Story

There is something that have been part of me all my life but I did not write it down before. I was ashamed of it. Felt guilty towards it. I wanted to change myself to become another person.

Now, I think I am finding my inner peace and want to dedicate this coming out story to all the people like me in the world.

I am a weirdo.

I am one of the awkward persons you meet in your day or week.

That’s it, I’ve said it. I feel so much better.

You see, light social conversations are a nightmare for me. I am very bad at meeting new people and finding the right, light, casual, not too deep and not too shallow conversations to make at certain occasions; dinners with acquaintances, getting-to-know-people-closer meetings, orientations, the social meetings after the panel discussions or conferences, classmates, flatmates, neighbors, distant family members…etc.

Of course, over time (since I am 35), I have worked hard to “perform” a social person in all of these meetings. Sometimes it works very well and sometimes I make embarrassing remarks or positions. I used to be ashamed of those. So very much. Now I don’t think I care much. Perhaps it’s a good thing not assimilate, I tell myself. It’s OK not to fit in all the time. Especially I “trained” myself very well to give the impression I am an “everybody person.” Not awkward at all. Performativity makes wonders.

Unlike casual and light conversations among strangers or acquaintances, I find meeting a very small number of people, sharing drinks, cigarettes and having nice, personal and honest conversations very refreshing and empowering. These are my favorite moments about life.

I am scared of meetings that revolve 20-40 people. I say nothing in those meetings and I feel very self-conscious. Whereas I feel confident at meetings that revolve 100 ppl or more.

I was scared of public speaking but then I became fond of it, especially meeting with like-minded activists and comrades.

I can only do bonding-kind of relationships. That’s why I take friendships very seriously. And that’s why I sometimes value people I shared great moments with online (blogging or uprisings for ex) even though we haven’t met in person.

I don’t think I believe in the concept “socializing.” My brain and body don’t get it. I get disappointed at romantic relationships that don’t involve a real bonding. Interestingly enough, not all people need that sort of thing to be “in love.” I do.

In fact, I can only function in relationships (friendships or romantic ones) that center around bonding. It took me a while to understand this thing about me.

I am a very literal and precise human being. I love examples, long explanations. orientations, well-structed and detailed talk. Because my mind goes like this @($$&%^$(#(@ when I hear a general talk.

I stop listening to sentences that begin with “generally speaking.”

Use your words carefully, please.

I am very organized towards everything (meetings, dates, relationships, conversations, cleaning, buying, planning, going to a bar etc). I wish I wasnt but I am. I am so loving this post.

I am very punctual (unless I am down, unmotivated or depressed) and being punctual among a culture of unpunctuality is, well, frustrating, to say the least. I stop meeting with people who show up 30 or an hour late. I totally get turned off.

I bond very easily with animals. Not sure why I typed that here. Hmm.

Now the good stuff: I talk to myself a lot during the day. Part of my well-being is to understand myself, my new self that evolved during the uprising and the war. After all, I am living with myself ALL DAY. All my life. Sometimes I am not my self and I don’t recognize it. How to deal with that? My solution is that me and myself should talk about it.

These are not simple things. Not common things either. These habits and manners of thinking are sometimes isolating at occasions where casual talk or socializing is a “professional” part of your life as a student or worker. Even in your social and intimate life.

These types or preferences of relationships is difficult when you’re in exile or when you’re a refugee. Saying goodbye to your close friends and family, and entering a whole new space to find new ones, demands a lot of patience and energy that sometimes you have none.

Finally, I am so happy that I came out to this blog’s readers. To the people who feel they’re awkward; love your self and be confident about it. Life is too short to be ashamed.

Sat March 5th









Exiled Razaniyyat

So many things attached to this blog and its newly-constructed meanings over the past 5 years pushed me away from it. Its title, is one of them. The spotlight and the fixed fashionable terms that I don’t intend to discuss in this post. Perhaps later (I am so good at postponing anxiety).

Right now, I am changing the title from Razaniyyat to “Exiled” one.

As some of the readers of this blog know, I was born in the US, so unlike millions (literally) of Syrians today who wish or dream of obtaining refugee status or a new passport, I don’t need to. The opportunity of leaving Syria has been there ever since I was born 35 years ago, in Florida.


Landing in UK September 16th 2015

I am so much privileged that worrying about visas or safety is not an issue for me. This privilege alienates me from understanding or comprehending the need of “refugee” or comprehend really what constitutes as “unwanted citizens” of some countries like Syria, Palestine, Iraq among others. Even thought that my own brother had to cross the sea like tens of thousands other Syrians. I called the smuggler, was part of the money negotiations and the whole process. I still did not cross the sea.

Despite this feeling of alienation, I’ve learned that it’s not productive to feel guilty on things you cannot change about yourself or your privileges. “Invest in resources, Razan.” I keep telling myself.

This is my long explanation to tell you why this blog won’t change into “Refugee Razaniyyat.”

Even though I could not register as a refugee, it doesn’t mean I, too, did not have to leave as well. Like tens of thousands of residents in Syria (Syrians, Palestinians, Kurdish-Syrians among others), I left Assad and IS. But unlike many male opposition activists residing today in so-called Northern “liberated” areas, I also left the male-dominated opposition territories.

As many of you know, dozens of Syrians left Assad’s controlled areas because of their political opinion and activism that will put their lives (and their families)  in danger.


My room in Leeds, UK.

Hence, some went to what’s been called as “liberated areas” in Northern Syria- lands and territories that are liberated from regime’s control and are now controlled by brigades close to the opposition. I lived there for 9 months and 20 days in 2013. Unveiled single woman activist. It was a very draining and perhaps next to impossible to be as such in the area – a discourse you rarely hear from male opposition and media journalists or writers who’ve been or living in these areas.

Today, if I want to go back to the “liberated areas” I must be veiled, and preferably with a husband.

Like tens of thousands of residents of Syria I fled Assad and IS. But unlike many male activist and revolutionaries, I also left the male-dominated opposition lands too.

Exile is my only option.

This blog is going to be about this journey of exile into unknown paths and future.

7th February 2016

Leeds, UK.




Images, Ethics, Action: Online Video, Human Rights and Civic Activism in Syria

Reposted from PULSE:

Thomas Keenan moderates a discussion with our friends, the great Yassin al Haj Saleh and Eliot Higgins (Brown Moses), on the situation in Syria.

We live in a world where images of violence and atrocity regularly flow from battlefields and streets in conflict, and circulate with increasing velocity. Whether they are intended to terrorize, shock, expose wrongdoing, “raise awareness,” or simply show what’s happening — and whether they are made by journalists, fighters, activists, citizens, or even satellites and surveillance cameras — they appear before us and ask us to respond. They raise not only political questions, but ethical ones as well. They are ultimately addressed to public opinion, and their fate is uncertain. Do they end in action, engagement, avoidance, prejudice, empathy, revulsion, memory or oblivion?

This discussion focused on images from the war in Syria, and explored a range of things to do with them.

Razan and I | OpenDemocracy

My latest article on Razan Zaitouneh published yesterday on OpenDemocracy in collaboration with SyriaUntold:

10172824_691852620878867_7378733230773807252_nBetween me and Razan there are those tiny stories that do not belong to and cannot be classified as one of those typical close relationships between friends. We weren’t friends. To me, she was the woman whose path is always crossing mine, a hard working woman who values human life more than any other values favored by other humans. She believes everyone is equal and everyone deserves the same treatment from law. Razan is a true human rights activist who doesn’t just write statements, but actually commits to advocating human rights and equality in her daily life.

Razan cannot be racist, sexist, Islamophobic, homophobic or carry a prejudice, she only targets abusers. An abuser is he who commits a form of injustice against another. Period. Razan’s idea of human life is this simple, and it’s quite admirable to see it remain the same during the world’s most recent crisis. That’s Razan, that’s my mentor; despite knowing her name neither the world, nor many Syrians, even know her.

Click here to read the full text.

Back to Life

I woke up around 4 AM. I thought about you a bit, well a lot, then watched another episode of House.

I sat in the balcony for the first time ever since I moved in to this studio of mine, smoked a ciggie then went back to bed.

I woke up again around 7 AM, wore gym clothes then went out for a quick run – the first time I do it in my life.

I am devoting some time lately to discovering good music. I am currently playing this album non-stop since yesterday. Continue reading

Kali’s Legacy

I lived. Past tense. I lived nine months in a place called Nomy. Nomy was a strange town, I have to say. But that’s not what I want to talk about today.

I left Nomy four months ago. Past tense. It should be over by now, you know, the memories – good or bad. But those memories are called as such because of present tense. The old reality becomes new after leaving. Here is a new territory, your mind is working daily to accumulate new memories. The old memories are not so much old, they’re still alive with me in my speech, temper, I even developed new fakeness in my character. Most of all, those old memories are alive within me through my new semi-phobias. Continue reading

What #Douma4 Means to Me

After almost six months since the kidnapping of Razan Zeitounah, Samira Khalil, Wael Hamadah and Nazem Hammadi by masked armed groups in Douma on 9th of December 2013. We, the families and friends of the kidnapped along with a group of independent activists, launch #Douma4 that’s aiming to put pressure on the kidnappers to release them and tell us about their safety and well-being.

1Razan, Samira, Wael and Nazem have been living in Ghouta for sometime before they were kidnapped: we’re at the liberated areas at last. Now it’s time for the revolution, us, to build it. They did. Razan was documenting in person the violations committed by the regime and armed groups alike. The regime violations are countless with the war being launched on rebels and citizens with the help of experts and fighters from three or more countries. To some, this makes the violations committed by the revolution small, but Razan refused to adopt such mentality. Violation Documentation Center documents human rights violations. Period. The center takes a political stance towards who’s committing the crimes, that’s why it’s a revolutionary center. What exactly do you mean if you’re a human rights activist and “neutral”? What the hell does that mean? Continue reading

UPDATED: Revolutionary and Blogger Marcel Shehwaro Detained and Released

Marcel Shehwaro at Bloggers' Meeting 2013

Marcel Shehwaro at Bloggers’ Meeting 2013

First she was kidnapped by a Aleppo Brigade.

Time: an hour ago around 5ish PM Syria time today 17th March 2014.

Place: Jisr Al-Haj Square, Aleppo.

Reason: refusing to wear the veil.

Activist Mohammad Khalili detained with her.

Right now: she was transferred to a court common i liberated areas called Hai’a Shar3iya. They’re both detained there.

Marcel gave her Facebook credentials to a friend and posted the message below (translated by Joseph Dhaher):

—Beginning of the message —
I am Marcell Shehwaro
I am detained by the Sharia’ Council because of not wearing the veil in the liberated areas
This is the story as it happens:
We were with a youth group involved in a revolutionary activity at the Jisr Al-Haj square
The activity was consisting of putting photos of the martyrs of the revolution in Aleppo and planting trees at the roundabout
Then a leader of the Army of the Mujahideen called Abu Hussanein came and asked me to wear the veil because this area was under the control of the Mujahideen Army. Continue reading