I knew I was one of you and I created my new family

Sarah Khayat's illustrations capture the tapestry of LGBTIQ communities as they weave together alternative families rooted in love and compassion. Khayat delves into the essence of familial bonds formed not by blood, but by a shared commitment to acceptance and unconditional love. Complementing Khayat's artwork, Ward Zaraa's texts provide a narrative backdrop.

17 April 2024

Sara Khayat

Sara Khayat is a graphic designer and visual artist from Damascus. Her work primarily centers women’s issues, identities and issues related to forced disappearance in Syrian prisons, as well as children in devastated areas in Syria. She fights for her causes and explores herself and her identity through drawing personal experiences and visually documenting memories.

My fear manifests in the quiver of my fingers, a silent confession etched in trembling hands. Contemplating the threshold I must draw at the entrance of my door, I ponder its form, seeking a barrier sturdy enough to repel loss without alienating those I hold dear.

Whoever lives in a tent fears its back door, it never closes, belongings will slip away with each gust of wind.

With trembling fingers and an open tent door, I welcome love-hungry friends like me. I call them by their new names, the ones they chose for their smiles and dance with them around a fire that lights and warms at once.

Come in and I will write to you about everything that was in that sad country.

If only they had taken my hand instead of cutting it off, I mourn the loss of what could have been—a life blooming with the vibrancy of flowers rather than stained with the spillage of blood.

I am not that strong, but they taught me the fear of weakness. They lined my body with the ticking bombs of all that is forbidden and shameful. Now I walk with my hands touching them at all times, as if passing through a minefield! In order not to die, I denied my body and embodied my country.

I am not worried either, but I used to walk discreetly in narrow lanes, avoiding the main roads owned by others.

I was not born compatible with society's expectations of conformity, so I curled up inside the labyrinths I had. At night, I ran away from questions and found all of you there, maskless and trembling like me.

I then knew this is where I belonged, this is my new family. Here, within the sanctuary of our chosen family, there are no mirrors, only images of love that adorn the walls, and windows flung wide open. 

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This work is under a Creative Commons license. Attribution: Non commercial - ShareAlike 4.0. International license

Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad