Lets talk about Egypt, Lets talk LGBT!
Given the politics events enfolding the Middle East at the moment, I wanted to take this opportunity to provide commentary from a queer Arab female perspective.
I am extremely happy about whats happening. Yes, because our people are speaking out. But also because at moments like this, humanity’s struggle against oppression is so loud that for once it doesn’t matter who I sleep with. People on the Arab street are screaming so loud, in unity, against one person, that I dont matter, at all. Not one bit.
I am flattered by how important and controversial my sex life is to straight Arabs, but sometimes I enjoy submersing my naked skin in shadows. Right now, I can hide if I want to and I like having that option.
Our people are sacrificing, abandoning their living rooms, kitchen cabinets and babies’ cradles for the streets. But I cannot help but smile underneath the palm I have put to my mouth. I am smiling because for once, I belong.
For once, I am the shoemaker in the old shack downtown, I am the vegetable seller in the pick up truck yelling; “YALLA YA BATATA”, I am the garbage truck driver and the prison inmate. And to hell with who these people sleep with. Because for once we don’t matter as individuals.
For once, my people gloss over my sexual identity and invite me into their arms and homes. For once, my people admit they need my community, and by that I mean the Arab LGBT community. Maybe, they’re being nice out of necessity, because if we are to take out every single man who slept with or fantasized about another man, and every single woman who slept with or fantasized about another woman from these swarms of protesters, Tahrir square would be left with 10 people. Maybe they are inviting me into their crowds out of selfishness. Maybe, I am just another symbol of blatant oppression strengthening they’re cause, because I am queer, because I am an Arab woman, because I am a Queer Muslim Arab woman. Maybe they are taking advantage of me just as much as I am taking advantage of their burning bodies. Either way, as long as its for a good cause, as long as it feeds the hungry; they can take advantage of my identity all the want. People like me know pain, I would be honored to be part of the struggle for social justice.
As much as I try denying wanting to be seen as “a normal person”, I am half lying to myself. And as much as you hate my desire for normalcy and my assumption that being queer makes me abnormal, I hate it too. But you know what, I want to be out like a normal person, and I want my family to be fine with it like a normal person. And I am happy right now, because the topic of my sexuality is so damn unimportant that not even I need to worry about it.
I cannot help but wonder; if Mubarak leaves office tomorrow, would my mother be so blinded by her laughter that she would swing my children (from-another-woman) on her shoulders? Probably not, but its a 50/50.
Maybe it is selfish of me to see something positive in the events taking place in Egypt, Tunis, Yemen and Algeria, taking the lives of many. Maybe its selfish of me to relate a revolution and a desperate call for social justice to LGBT issues. But the truth, its not selfish at all. People like me symbolize social injustice in the Middle East. Would people like us ever incite solidarity protests in Amman and DC, just like the ones taking place in solidarity with the Egyptian people? The answer is no, Arabs do not admit we exist in the first place. I wish I understood why, walking down the street I spot at least 10 queens a day, every day.
The point is, Egyptians got smart. They united, they ceased to be Coptic, Muslim, queer or straight. They united into one big swarm of people. No one knows who’s out there. No one cares who’s out there. So while they’re at it, enjoy your freedom and your anonymity.
I’d like to end this post by sending prayers to those who have lost their lives during the recent events. I would also like to express my sincere respect for those who have taken to the streets to make a statement and demand the change they deserve.