My name is Hasan Namir. I’m the author of God in Pink (Arsenal Pulp Press) and poetry book War/Torn (Book*Hug Press).
First, I want to express my gratitude to Open Book for inviting me to be the Writer-In-Residence for the month of October. It’s my pleasure to spend the month with you and I’m available if you want to contact me anytime with questions or comments.
The theme is Daddy Writer To Be for a few reasons:
1) I’m a writer;
2) My husband and I are having a baby in December;
So, throughout the month, I’ll be sharing posts that will be part autobiography, chronicling my love story and the journey to becoming a father as a gay man, while infusing discussions about writing that is birthed from my life experiences.
As this is an introduction post, let me tell you more about myself. I was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1987 where I spent 11 years of my life in a beautiful country, growing up in a loving Arab-Muslim family.
Over the years, I knew I was different. I used to wear my sisters’ dresses (or try to fit in them). One time, I got stuck in one and my mom had to help out of it. I used to play beauty pageants with my sister who have always been so enthusiastic with me.
I never liked sports, even though my parents, in desperation, enrolled me for every sport possible like tennis, taekwondo and soccer. Unfortunately, I had zero interest and they eventually learned that and gave up . What I loved instead was reading Arabic books and poems. I didn’t know I was gay growing up, but I did have strange feelings when I met a boy my age. I knew that I couldn’t have those feelings.
My family and I immigrated to Canada in 1998. The first few years were difficult for me because I didn’t have the language to express myself. I felt like a complete outsider. I was trying to reconcile between my Iraqi identity and my new Canadian identity. It wasn’t easy learning English in middle school. I had to take ESL for many years up until I was in grade 9.
I was being excluded from the rest of the class. I wasn’t like them. I knew I didn’t belong. I really had hoped that the English courses I took in Iraq helped me communicate better. That wasn’t the case. I had to spend hours, one-on-one with ESL teachers. At the same time, I read a lot of books to help me improve. I was obsessed with R.L.Stine and the Fear Street series. I also read all the fairy tales’ books out there.
When I was 12 years old, I wrote my first short story in English. It was called Linton Street Stop and it was published in an anthology for young writers. That inspired me to keep reading and writing. As I was reading a lot of horror books during my teen years, I became interested in writing stories in the horror genre. I was contributing some of these stories on www.writing.com and received feedback on them. When I was in grad 12, I wrote a horror novel about a serial killer, which was my first complete manuscript. Then, I joined www.nanowrimo.org and managed to write the whole book in a month, receiving commendation from my Writing 12 teacher, which was a big deal to me!
I was writing a lot of horror stories because I was trying to distract myself from the reality of my situation. I knew deep inside that I had feelings toward the same sex. I didn’t want to write about that because I didn’t have the courage to share these stories with my high school classmates. I didn’t want to be bullied.
As I grew older, I realized that I had to come face to face with the fact that I was different. I knew that I somehow had to make a decision between accepting my sexuality as a gay Iraqi Muslim man, or deny myself and stay in the closet, making my parents happy. My whole life changed the moment I met Tarn.
The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.
Iraqi-Canadian author Hasan Namir graduated from Simon Fraser University with a BA in English and received the Ying Chen Creative Writing Student Award. He is the author of God in Pink (2015), which won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Fiction and was chosen as one of the Top 100 Books of 2015 by The Globe and Mail. His work has also been featured on Huffington Post, Shaw TV, Airbnb, and in the film God in Pink: A Documentary. He was recently named a writer to watch by CBC books. Hasan lives in Vancouver with his husband. War/Torn (2019, Book*Hug) is his latest poetry book.