Mariah & Me: 3 People Share How Mariah Carey Changed Their Lives

Updated: Dec 17, 2020

Stories by: Tofik Dibi, Louise Chantál & Carlos Cornejo

Mariah Collage by Breana Quintero for Our House

When we developed the theme of Pleasure for this months issue, our very first themed issue, we brainstormed on the things that truly bring joy to the masses. Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas" was the first thing that popped into one of our co-founders mind. A dedicated Mimi fan herself, she knew immediately that we must go to the people for stories of Mariah.


Naturally, we found three incredibly dedicated Mariah stans. These are their stories. Share yours in the comments and we'll post on social. Happy Mariah Holidays!

Legendariah, My Savior

By: Tofik Dibi


As a queer Muslim kid growing up in Amsterdam during the nineties, there wasn’t a lot of space for me to just be.


There wasn’t any space, actually.


So, I spent my days mimicking the cool straight boys, all while trying not to stare at them too hard. I was sure someday I would find a girl who’s allure would make me fall head over heels for her. Little did I know, I would never find that savior girl–at least not in the way I expected.


During a school trip, I stumbled on a cassette in the guest house we were staying in. It had songs by different artists, one of whom was Mariah Carey. One song in particular that stayed with me was “Vanishing” from her debut album. After just a few seconds of listening to the song, I was shook. I never could come to terms with my father dying years earlier, but the lyrics to her song expressed everything I was feeling and couldn’t verbalize.


Reaching out into the distance

Searching for spirits of the past

Just a trace of your existence to grasp

And if somehow I could recapture

All of the memories

And bring them to life

Lord knows I would

-“Vanishing,” Mariah Carey


The vocals were hers, but they felt like they came from inside me. From that day forward, I inspected every lyric and devoured every song of her that I could find. I found a girl and fell in love. Her music set me on a journey, because it created a space for me to express my bottled up emotions and queer fantasy.


I envisioned full-on weddings with imaginary and random boys, as I sat in the back of the bus, listening to Mariah’s love songs on my headphones. I fell in love and broke my heart in a grocery store, in the park, on vacations. I got cheated on and became the cheater. I experienced romantic dates on the beach and kissed on rooftop terraces underneath the stars. In reality, I was a lonely boy sitting in his room, but in Mariah’s songs, I was the starring lead in a Hollywood love story.


Even though all of these adventures only played out in my head, the daydreaming helped me cope until I could muster up the strength to stop hiding. I would wait for my mom and brothers to leave the house, so I could really cut loose. I would belt along to “Can’t let go” and “I am Free” at the top of my lungs until the neighbors started banging on the ceiling. It was as if I was belting out the shame I felt for being queer. It was musical therapy.


Once I was a prisoner

Lost inside myself

With the world surrounding me

Wandering through the misery

But now I am free

-“I Am Free,” Mariah Carey


At first I didn’t tell a lot of people about my adoration for Mariah, because being into diva’s is kind of a dead giveaway for queerness. Yet, when Butterfly came out, I threw caution to the wind. Listening to “Outside” felt just like listening to “Vanishing” for the first time; it gave words to everything I was feeling. It made me realize I never saw myself reflected in my family or friends, in movies, books, or television–not completely anyway. In that song, I felt represented.


But in your heart

Uncertainty forever lies

And you'll always be

Somewhere on the

Outside

-“Outside,” Mariah Carey


Those poor neighbors.


Now that Mariah’s memoirs are out, I understand why my connection to her was always so deep. Like me, she also grew up with no real space to just be. Music was the space she used to be seen, heard, and loved. Her music is where misfits like myself felt exactly that. Even the ultimate festive Christmas bop, “All I want for Christmas Is You,” came out of a necessity to feel joy and happiness when she didn’t have that space in her childhood. Her festiveness is a refusal to give in to trauma–and that’s why the song became a modern classic.


Thank you, Queen, for accompanying me with your music on a long and windy road. If you read this, I hope you are sitting next to your fabulous Christmas tree, one of many I presume, sipping on top tier eggnog. I want you to have a moment, dahling and take in the impact you, till this day, have on the lives of people across the globe. People, like me, who found comfort and hope in your music.


Bless your heart, Legendriah.


About the Author:

Tofik Dibi resides in The Netherlands and is a former member of Dutch parliament, currently a writer. He has a book book coming out in January, Dijinn.


You can connect with him here and here.






My Fairy Godmother, My Madrina

By Carlos Cornejo


Mariah Carey (MC) is a Fairy Godmother. For me, MC has always reminded me of my mom’s youngest sibling, who is also my Madrina, godmother. The samples Mariah employs throughout her music career, her own original music, dulcet tones; they were a meeting place where different generations came together to bond over these now-iconic songs. On one hand, there was my Tia who was a teen when she emigrated from El Salvador to San Jose, California. On the other, there was my generation, the children of first generation immigrants to be born in the U.S. But then, Mariah’s covers–specifically those from the ’90s, like Without You, and I’ll Be There”–captivated my Grandma’s ear, another generation. She was hypnotized by the splendor that is Mariah’s elastic melisma. “¿Que linda como canta, verdad?” she’d ask me. I’d nod profusely to assure her that I wholeheartedly agree.