Barra magazine back on track
BEIRUT: After years of patience, Barra is going to be launched again on IDAHO. The Lebanese LGBT Media Monitor conducted an interview with editors in chief Ahmad Saleh and Jean Salim to get all the details about the re-launching of this magazine.
The Monitor: What drove you to re-launch Barra and what made you succeed after many years?
Barra: The project of re-launching Barra has been a topic talked about in Helem for years with many attempts that failed. This year one of Helem’s founders George Azzi reunited a group of people who were determined to re-launch Barra. What really helped us is that IDAHO was two and a half months away from when the idea came out, so we set that date as a deadline.
The Monitor: What are the topics that the magazine will have?
Barra: There are many sections:
- Theme Section and Feature Article: each issue will have a different theme with a feature article.
- Interview with someone related to the theme or with someone who marked the LGBT community
- News section: including local, regional, international news plus news from Civil Society groups and Law cases. Avoiding any that the Lebanese LGBT community can’t identify with.
- Arts and Lifestyle: a section that will have an LGBT perspective, not necessarily by LGBT, not necessarily about LGBT
- Opinion piece: a platform for anyone regarding any topic
- Health: Sexual and Reproductive Health but also any topic the LGBT community can identify with more than any other Non LGBTs
- Fun section: Comic Strip, Horoscope, Games, Jokes, etc…
The Monitor: We heard that the magazine is going to be open to articles by the public. Why did you choose that instead of handling the magazine to a group of professional writers?
Barra: We will have staff writers who are responsible for editing and translating articles as well as writing in every issue. At the same time Barra was first issued for a purpose: publishing articles about LGBTs that were not accepted in the common media. That’s why we decided to make it open to the public.
To be accepted, the articles should be: non offensive, constructive, non-pinkwashing, and not resembling tabloids.
The Monitor: What do you think will distinguish Barra from other LGBT media outlets and Blogs?
Barra: We think the more outlets there are in the public the more discourse and more diversity the community will have. We will be the only media outlet that is in print. Our printed issues will include both Arabic and English articles (80% Arabic). And our online issue will have all articles translated into both languages.
The Monitor: What to expect from the first issue?
Barra: It will be very different. It will have the crowd shocked that something like this is happening in Lebanon.
It will include both issues targeting activists and non activists (LGBT 101)
The Monitor: Are you afraid of any obstacles (legally, financially…) hitting your way?
Barra: Our only fear is any lack of involvement from the LGBT community. We are also scared from their reaction towards this magazine: will they consider increasing the visibility to the LGBT community is a negative step?
We’re not afraid of having any Legal problems since we are sure that Barra is completely Legal as long as we don’t sell it, in which case it will need a special license.
The Monitor: Where will you distribute Barra?
Barra: Barra will be at LGBT friendly venues (pubs, gathering places), AUB Jafet Library, partner organizations. We are also talking with other universities and libraries. We are trying to reach contacts from outside of Beirut to help in this but this is much harder.
The Monitor: Anything else you want to add?
Barra: We hope people will identify with the articles in Barra. We want to clarify that it’s going to be a free magazine. We encourage everyone to send us anything (opinion pieces, stories, pictures, games, memes…) under a real name or an alias at: email@example.com. All articles will be edited for grammar and language structure with the agreement of the writer.