Sacrifice.

It’s kinda like lying. You do it when you feel you really have to. But it’s always at the expense of someone or something, ain’t it?

This something was my earrings (studs, really – small round black ones), on the day of my brother’s wedding.

Anti-climax? Maybe. But that was just the literal renouncement. This someone was me, and I felt violated.

See, many religious folk I know take gender binaries pretty seriously, as does society at large – often conveniently hand-picking what suits them best, mind you! So if you’re a dude with pierced ears, don’t think you’re going to pass through the doors of a mosque unabashed.

It was the day of my brother’s wedding. Low-key, intimate. Just us family. My brother and I arrived at mosque donning a long thobe; a traditional garment worn by Muslims (only on special occasions for some of us). I’m pretty much agnostic, but because it was my brother’s wedding (a Muslim wedding), what could I do?

One word: respect.

Though I wasn’t the man of the moment, the Imam couldn’t help but stare at me. My ears. With disgust, that is. Without him saying a word, out came my earrings. Even though I had done what he clearly expected me to – judging by his expression – he continued: “Men shouldn’t wear earrings. You can’t enter this mosque wearing them – take those things out of your ears! It’s Haram [sinful].”

Inside, I was losing my cool. But once again, what could I do? Tell a “man of God” to f*ck off? No. I kept my cool. Not out of respect for the Imam; but out of respect for my brother. His big day.

Next thing we’re in the Imam’s office to proceed with the Nikah (marriage). Small. Filled with Qurans, some Arabic literature, a few chairs and an office desk like any other. Mundane. The Imam spoke of the significance of marriage, my brother presented dower (in this case, a sum of money) to his wife, and with his and her signature – they were pronounced husband and wife. That’s when I become a bit bromotional, but anyway – I digress.

Seeing a smile on my big brother’s face was a small price to pay.

But being agnostic in a Muslim family is more awkward than the spelling of the word awkward.

See my studs weren’t a fashion statement. It was me being me: my “fuck you” emblem to whoever believes a man shouldn’t don a pair of studs. To whatever institution denies someone the right to be themselves.

Today, I still yearn for my black matte studs, because it filled more than just my pierced ears – it filled me. And to this day, it’s never been filled.

So everyday I pay the price for being faithless, because, as Rumpelstiltskin would say – everything comes with a price.