Our Stories: “Don’t Touch My Name”

The following is the first in a series of posts called Our Stories which highlight the rich tapestry of diverse experiences held by our incredible community: Queer and Trans Middle Eastern and/or North African individuals living in and around New York City.

Don’t Touch My Name

By: Ibrahim Khazzaka

Born in Lebanon, I was named after my grandfather.  Everyone in the Middle East understands the name homage, the name tribute to the patriarch.

In a way, we are expected to identify with our grandparents, to seek their strengths and equal their achievements.

I love my grandfather, he’s growing older to become a sterner man than how I remember him.  Still he did travel, met most of his career and social prestige goals. Carrying his name is heavy; everyone wanted me to be like him.  Yet, no one, not even he, showed me a way. Sometimes I was asked to round up my school grades to impress him, to be worthy of his blessing.

In Lebanon, “Ibrahim” was among the old names that people let go of for more trendy ones.  I remember at 13, a barber advised me to go for my nickname, Bob! Ibrahims in Lebanon are named “Bob” (don’t ask) to which I mocked him, saying “I’m keeping it as it is, it’s a beautiful name.” Continue reading “Our Stories: “Don’t Touch My Name””