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David Rabadi Helps The World be More Aware of Mental Health Issues Prompted by Repressed Sexuality

Updated: Jun 13




David Rabadi

Author/Speaker Helps The World be More Aware of Mental Health Issues Prompted by Repressed Sexuality

by Brad Balfour


After David Rabadi was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder – previously known as “manic depressive” illness — he followed a long path to coping with his illness. Not easily understood by most, the condition prompts swings from deep depression to an abnormally elevated mood. 


Though Rabadi’s childhood was filled with joyful memories — house parties, family outings and dinners — he was a curious kid who loved Arabic music and belly dancing. He picked up the dancing from his cousin, Suhair, who was his babysitter. But when he was four, he accidentally caught a family friend who was secretly masturbating. The man then shoved his erect penis into the young boy’s mouth and threatened to kill him.  


A few years later, at seven, he had another traumatic experience when his aunt Josephine passed away from breast cancer. His dad decided that he had to go to her funeral. There, with her body was in the casket, Rabadi’s father told him to “Go kiss her goodbye!” Given no choice, the boy walked up close to his aunt and kissed her forehead. Then, terrified, he quickly ran outside. Throughout the lad’s entire childhood, he spent much more time with females. He was a boy who liked playing with dolls and wearing his mother’s clothes. Even then, he knew that he was somehow different.  


Once, at a special family party with a professional singer, a cousin grabbed Rabadi’s arm and moved him to the center of the room. “Dance!” she said, and everyone applauded as the boy happily followed the instruction. But another male relative said in a harsh tone, “You dance like a girl. You’re a faggot!” The young boy didn’t even know what a “faggot” was, but he knew his cousin was right: he danced in a different way from the other men and boys. From that moment on, he never wanted to dance in front of a crowd. And if he did, he tried his best not to “dance like a girl.”


During this Pride Month, it’s important to consider the mental health issues prompted by denying one’s own sexuality.


Today, Rabadi is an inspirational speaker — a result of learning how to manage his disease and sexuality. He addresses diverse audiences, ranging from high school and college students to business professionals and mental health experts. In his talks, he stresses the importance for each of us of being honest with ourselves by facing our realities.  


As Rabadi tells his listeners, “Accepting one’s reality is crucial to living a life that’s happier, healthier, more satisfying and productive.” This is further highlighted in his book, Live Your Truth: Live To Be Yourself or Die As Someone Else which came out a few years ago. It describes his struggle with a bi-polar condition that emerged as he confronted being gay in a world which condemned his gayness. 


Rabadi’s path to this enlightenment didn’t come easily. His own self-healing involved accepting his truth that he is gay. Instead of denying this mental and emotional reality, this encouraging speaker now acknowledges and embraces it. To quote from a speech of his, “My message to each of you is, don’t feel shame for who you are. For example, if you discover that you have some mental illness, don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Or if you’re struggling with sexuality, give yourself permission to discover your own reality.  


“You’ll make wiser decisions if you don’t automatically judge but actually listen to your authentic self. Then, after acknowledging our truths, we can start to discover the approaches — even medicines, if appropriate — that will allow us to live and enjoy our lives to the fullest.”  


When this Arab American’s parents came from Jordan, they brought along two older brothers and a sister. Born in Yonkers, New York, the child became a first generation Arab American along with his younger brother John. His father was an example of a strong work ethic and a willingness to do whatever was needed. He worked two jobs, one in a factory and the other as a cab driver while his mother stayed home to raise the kids.


As Rabadi became a teenager, he realized that he was indeed attracted to other males. Being a teenager is challenging for anyone, but being a closeted Arab American is even harder. Homosexual acts are forbidden in traditional Islamic cultures, sometimes punishable by death. Jordan and Bahrain are the only Arab countries where homosexuality is legal.  


Even so, most LGBTQ people in Jordan face social discrimination. Until 2013, it was even legal there to kill a homosexual in a so-called “honor killing.” Ironically, many of the very progressive oriented protestors supporting the Palestinian cause are identified as LBGTQ nonbinary. In many Middle Eastern countries, they would be quickly rounded up and killed because of their sexual orientation. 


Today, Rabadi accepts his reality as a gay Arab American. He no longer feels embarrassed for having Bipolar One disorder. Instead, he now functions effectively, and publicly, as a published author and journalist. Having learned the positive value of accepting himself, he now actively spreads this awareness as an inspirational speaker for a wide range of audiences, from students to adults, Arabs and Americans and many more. 


How old were you when you first realized you were gay? Describe the moment you realized it and how did you feel? 


I was seven years old when I realized I liked boys. I had a friend that was the same age and one day we were in his room, and he asked me if I wanted to see what he saw his older brother do with a girl. I said okay. He told me to lay on the bed and then he got on top of me and started humping me. I felt a sensation in my stomach, and I immediately liked the feeling. At the time, I didn’t know that it meant I was gay. As I grew older, I learned that I was gay but kept it to myself because I was told that it was against God’s word, and I would go to Hell.  


Once you understood it, how long did it take to develop relationships? 


Once I understood that I was gay, it was very difficult for me to form relationships with boys because I’m Middle Eastern. In our culture it was the deepest point of shame and dishonor. Gay people in the Middle East are put in jail and even killed. I had a lot of fear, so I suppressed my sexuality for a long time. I did engage with gay sex but never had a boyfriend.  


Given this revelation, how did it impact on your bipolar condition? I assume it expressed itself as you went through your teen years. Describe when you realized you needed therapy/medication? 


I believe because I was suppressing my sexuality, it manifested as Bipolar disorder. I firmly believe you can brush anything off your shoulders but all that’s doing is changing its location. It wasn’t until I was 30 years old that I was diagnosed with “Bipolar One.” Before that I experienced shifts in my mood, but I thought it was normal and that everyone experiences it. I was very productive. I graduated college with my BA in theater and communication. I worked full time. I thought I was perfectly fine except for my denial of my sexuality.  


When did you start your book? Was it a result of speaking out or did it come first? 


I started writing my book after I came out as gay and was diagnosed as Bipolar. It took me eight years to write my book. I had to become comfortable in sharing my personal experiences and the trauma endured.  


What did you feel the book needed to include to be inspirational? 


It was important to me to share my story so I could be a person that faced adversity and triumph. I am the first Jordanian to come out as gay in the Arab community in Yonkers. I know I’m not alone. I’ve met other gay Arabs who are still scared to come out and they tell me I am an inspiration. And in regard to sharing I have bipolar, there is a big stigma when it comes to mental illness. I’m on a mission to make mental illness look so good everyone wants it. It’s time to live our truth and not be embarrassed or feel shame for who we are and what we struggle with. Describe your talks and what’s happening on that front? I go around to different universities and organizations and share my story. I ask the audience in every talk I give, “Do you want to live to be yourself or die as someone else?” Life is precious and we only live once. So do what makes you happy. And know that living your truth is the biggest gift you can give yourself. 


How do you keep the bipolar condition under control nowadays after your revelations? 


I have learned to keep my bipolar disorder under control. I have to take my medication every day. I have to exercise to build endorphins. I see a therapist every two weeks and it’s a great way to keep things in perspective for me.  


Copyright ©2024 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 8, 2024.


Photo © 2024 Brad Balfour. All rights reserved.

Book Cover © 2022. Courtesy of Defining Moments Press Inc. All rights reserved.



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