The Lesbian Scene in Jordan: All You Need to Know
I will approach this subject through the lens of a new comer, who is not a part of the mainstream Queer female community in Amman. Kindly be advised that the views I express here are my personal views, based on professional people watching and limited contact with the community (please do not consider them blanket statements, or take them as unquestionable truths).
What is the Lesbian Scene like in Jordan?
Lesbians have conquered the Ammani landscape, since the advent of ROYGBIV. I have made it through a year and a half as a native Jordanian lesbian; this victory somehow qualifies me to write about the Kingdom’s lesbian scene.
Lesbians in Jordan bear a resemblance to the city’s skyline, with its house-mounted hills, dominating features, and dryness. Those who have come to constitute “Jordan’s lesbian community” often come off as unfriendly to the new lesbian tourist as the dented roads and broken speed bumps of Amman.
As an outsider looking in, the young mainstream lesbian scene in Amman seems hungry and carnivorous; it views every new queer female as fresh meat to be consumed and re-consumed by the entire group of friends, with a side of much expected lesbo drama. People like me, watch it happen over cosmopolitans and long island teas, and think to themselves;
no thanks, I’d rather be celibate and grow
cobwebs in Virginia (pun intended).”
Why is it so Difficult to Break Into Jordan’s Lesbian Community?
True, the LGBT community in Jordan is highly exclusive. Directly approaching a group of lesbian-heads poking a cloud of cigarette smoke and viscous gossip at books @ cafe is ill-advised, unless there’s a common friend stringing you together. However we must all admit that it is offensive for a stranger to self-declare you as gay, while simultaneously attempting to trigger a “get to know you” conversation using your gayness as a foundation. Such an approach can be intimidating to the lesbian comrade chilling at a cafe, given how taboo the subject is. Your direct approach may come off as judgmental, since you’ve simplified this girl’s entire being into who she shares her bed with.
I have been a victim to that kind of approach in Jordan, must I say by straight people, and in all honesty, I did not enjoy being outted (to myself).
As a new lesbian, it is crucial to keep in mind that the community’s exclusivity is more of a defense mechanism against homophobia, rather than an arrogance and simple lack of trust. I find the lesbian scene in Jordan to be very reactionary.
Naturally, years of discrimination, exile and name-calling can elicit a bitterness towards new faces. Human beings, at large, tend to abuse those they categorize as “weak” by using the same methods implemented against them by those they categorize as more powerful. It is a means of self-validation and revenge. For example, domestic abuse against women is more prevalent in lower-income households, because modest men are often “emasculated” by the affluent landlord, the wealthy client, and the government official who shames him into subservience for a petty work permit. Consequently, these men from find the need to replicate the abuse they experience onto groups of people they perceive as weaker; in this case, their wives.
Believe it or not, the same scenario applies to lesbians; intolerance by parents, bullying by schoolmates and unflattering comments by emo-looking hunks on rainbow street is replicated in the interactions between old-timer lesbians and “weaker” new lesbians trying to break into the community. A new lesbian has to “pay her dues” so to say.
Why So Hungry?
Blame it on the unavailability of queer women in Jordan, or the risks a lesbian exposes herself to whenever she outs herself to a new love-interest. One of the most frustrating aspects of being a single lesbian in Jordan is the self-consciousness that your gay-dar should never be trusted, since culture and religion draw a sharp line between a girl’s tendencies (what she likes) and her actions (what she’s willing to admit and act upon).
I’ve come across quite the number of raging homosexuals in denial, banking on their self-control in respect for tradition and God.
As a single lesbian, I admit it’s extremely difficult to identify queer women in Amman, and even more difficult to approach them unless you have a common friend. Naturally, this limits your pool of candidates, and so don’t be surprised why groups of Jordanian lesbians tend to be extremely incestuous.
The Jordanian Online Lesbian Community
When I first got to Amman, I was disgruntled by how difficult it was to meet fellow queer females. There was no “correct” way of doing it. I resorted to facebook groups and other websites, such as afterellen.com, in search of Jordanian lesbians who would have mercy on the new lesbo in town. I found posts by foreign lesbians, who were in Amman for a visit, or a temporary stay. I found a couple of posts by Jordanian lesbians, who offered help. Given the how closed off the rest of the community was, I was suspicious of the Jordanians who were open to meet with new lesbians.
My hesitance was later justified, when I heard stories from acquaintances who did fall victim to the welcoming posts, only to find themselves in a car with two lesbians, and one bottle of vodka to be chugged.
I am not saying you should not reach out to the online community; I am simply encouraging caution.
Online Resources For Lesbian Women in Jordan
MyKali is an invaluable source to the LGBT community in Jordan. If you have ever googled Jordan LGBT, then you have probably found yourself surfing through this online magazine. Although the magazine –and all other Jordanian online resources for that matter- cater mostly to gay male audiences, I am of MyKali’s columnists (my articles go under - “Lesbo and The City”. No I didn’t pick the name), and I’ve been trying my best to focus on lesbian topics. MyKali is putting in much needed effort into involving queer female writers nonetheless, the deficiency of lesbian-specific information and resources can be frustrating. The limited information is what compelled me to start my own blog; Queer Girl’s Ink - Jordan(www.queerink.tumblr.com).
One thing I realized as a consequence of my experiences as a lesbian in Amman, is that you should be proactive, if something does not exist in Amman (and many things don’t exist in Amman) then you must be the one to create it. Call it proactive.
The lesbian scene in Amman is hard to crack. However, I realize now that being a gay woman in Amman is not as terrifying as I first thought it would be. You may have to rely on coincidence, common friends, or the internet to meet your first lesbian in Jordan, but once you do, you’ll witness a small community germinate around you.
Believe it or not, this society is making strides. To say “I have a gay friend” is not as suicidal as it used to be.
I have noticed that straight friends, near strangers and family members, who have been suspicious of my sexuality, try their best to signal their suspicions, while letting me know that “it’s okay”. The way they their sentiments are expressed is extremely politically incorrect, but that’s beside the point. I find their sincere effort to be a step forward. Straight people are confronting my sexuality, instead of blocking it out. Straight people are learning how to co-exist with my gayness. Perhaps, they are even beginning to like it.
So to the new lesbian in Jordan, I will say; Amman is a harsh city, but don’t be disappointed. It takes a little bit of patience.
Alyah Al Aswad
- 6 notes
- middle east
- women's health
- human rights
- Alyah Al Aswad
- gay community
- lesbian scene
- social equality
- Arab LGBT
- jordan LGBT
- jordan lesbians
- Jordan Lesbian Scene
Day 29 Writing Prompt
Day 28 Poem ~ Alyah Al Aswad
Re-crumple the geometry on the college block of an exhale,
into a shadow show of flames
that dance in the pit of your diaphragm.
Her eyes have learned how to fork yellow sun ray missing the flat of a wooden blind,
so her joy can splatter like egg yolk.
She talks at me,
with the consideration that my depth is shallow fried
because I barely unribbon the instruction in her voice,
just sink my pocket watch in her voice,
as it pumps through the valves of my
tonight, wine bottle, and alone,
I sweep her hum under my memory rug as she talks weight and iron
I need its acoustics in my bones in winter.
She doesnt speak enough.
She communicates in knee caps slashing their way through
the thick of people.
Her best temperament visits on Wednesdays.
She sits on the ground,
knees bent backwards
Her hair is a throne.
Her neck is pivotal.
She does not walk,
she orchestrates with hips.
She is an orchid growing in the wood of a farm swing.
Day 28 Writing Prompt
· knee caps
Day 27 Poem: Tissue Matters ~ Alyah Al Aswad
You carry me up to the inner junction of your eyes,
as if I am to have a conversation with a giant,
they river on the banks of too much laughter.
I swallow the saline water
and my flat chested-ness cringes at the taste
of your flow.
You tuck me back into your pocket,
I fit in well and rub my cheek against your thigh,
for a minute, I have an owner and I belong.
Silent beings are destined to be disposable.
You force your back hand into my home,
ambivalent about whether I should face my fear of heights
and the crash into the interior of a trash can.
I saved your sleeve from the run in your nose,
next thing I know I am shivering
in the violent hum of a garbage truck.
Thank God your mayor believes in recycling,
in my reincarnation.
I’ve been rather sick for the past couple of days, and that is what has slowed me down on the 30/30 challenge. Its extremely difficult for me to generate poetry with a sore throat - believe me, I’ve tried sitting at my computer to write a poem a few times, I’m just too exhausted.
I just need a day or two to recover, and then we’ll be back on track. I apologize for the inconsistency, but sometimes human immune systems falter at the worst times.
By the way, I am looking to feature a few queer writers on the blog, so if you think you’re interested, please inbox me or shoot me an email.
Day 25 Writing Prompt
Day 24 Writing Prompt
So today is a thursday (last day before the weekend for those of us who love in the Middle East), so I’m gonna go with a soft/fun writing prompt;
Day 22 Poem: Amman: Who A City Would Sleep With ~ Alyah Al Aswad
The pores in this city’s forearms,
crack streets and syringe speed-bumps,
inject me with Pedestrian Refuge Islands
of red hibiscus thrust.
Give me more body.
I am dependant on substance,
and I tremble in my shrinking faith in the reality of reality.
I am entirely gay,
but I crunch straight
and walk within him one-named;
for a job, for a roof under my head,
for a family to say,
yes, she is ours.
My eyes eat faces,
caving in by the realism of hunger.
There are families of tens,
who spread yesterday’s sports section on living room tiles,
scattering it with too many plates of nothing worth mentioing,
because kids need a pitiful victory to dip in teapots Friday mornings.
This meal is not fit for this people’s king,
just tailor made for loyalist mortals like them.
For the love of survival,
cradle your pedestrians equally.
These powdered pavements,
are an antiquity worth sniffing to the poet,
The city’s wind carries his sandstorms
in trays of dust,
to the gust of a Westerner’s nostrils.
He pays him in doses of modernity,
because corrective rape is till common
to the third world country and its queer community.
Amman was one bland man
until the spring purged its pride,
so he spread his borders as if they were real thighs,
and we stood in anticipation in the same kneeling posture as leg hair would;
to give the tourist something fuckable,
in an alley of the world where love affairs like this one are punishable.
And its situational homosexuality;
a culture forgives this act in a context of dry depressions,
as long as it pays,
as long as this city’s deviance is behind shut doors,
as long as its deviance is not rubbed in your face,
promising to give jobs to your children,
promising to take the bite out of a US tax payer’s mouth
and give it to you.
ungroomed as crack babies,
because they are crack babies,
they are the off-spring of a Lady Liberty junkie,
but you gotta realize either money runs out
Never tell me I belong here.
- 3 notes
- creative writing
- spoken word poetry
- 30 poems in 30 days challenge
- Middle East Politics
- Middle East
- Jordan Politics
- queer politics
- Alyah Al Aswad
- American politics
Day 21 Poem: Scraped Knee’s Returned Letter (30/30 Challenge) ~ Alyah Al Aswad
Do not misconstrue my nudity into a break-up poem.
It was raining,
Shoe went on a splurge of kinetics with Foot,
and so I landed face first.
Skin was a good woman,
I had never imagined I would lose her,
not at this age.
I am saddened by the incident,
Her submissiveness to Asphalt’s sexual temptation
curls me into a question mark at night.
The ease with which she slipped makes me wonder whether she ever held on to us strong enough.
I met Scab,
I may be in a constant state of desperation,
but I’ll recover,
I pray for a big love every night,
on bended knee.