By: Lisa R. Riskalas
As homosexuals in an Arab country we all go through the same stages of coming out, denial, fear, carelessness and eventually pride. But some of us get stuck on the second stage due to some surrounding force; it can be anything from family and friends to employment.
At the age of nineteen, I found myself stuck in that exact stage, I told myself and many others that I would never come out to my family unless I am heading off to the airport and never coming back.
It was around that same time that I heard of Mashrou3 Leila. I recall the first song I heard, “Fasateen”; my jaw dropped at the sight of the video and the lyrics. For once I found myself attracted towards the Arabic language, the music simply hypnotized me, and as time went on I sank into the Mashrou3 Leila sea of causes, astonishing music and absolute raw honesty, and I was not the only one.
About five years later, I stood at the entrance of the Zouk Mikael Amphitheater, staring at the sight of cops and security guards everywhere. My heart pounded as I waited for the event to start, eyes carefully scanning the surroundings for a sign of disturbance and protesters but none were found.
The area was surprisingly peaceful, filled with just a few people, most of them sitting in the lunch area. Others already running to the gate, waiting for it to open so that they can jump on the first chance they can get to sit in front. I immediately ran after these people and took my spot in the front of the stage.
The bands started right on time despite the fact that barely a few people had arrived, first came Jammit the band, and then Sandmoon and by the end of each performance you could feel the vibe changing. People started moving closer to the stage and the place became far more crowded. And by the time Loopstache and Pindoll started performing people were surrounding the stage with their arms up, dancing and singing in joy.
Finally Mashrou3 Leila arrived after a few minutes delay. The screaming got louder and I was one of the people screaming at the top of their lungs. You could feel the energy shifting from musical to an astounding show of love and support for Hamed and the gay community in general. The band’s performance had a lot of heart, you could see it on their faces as they stood on stage staring at the crowd that it wasn’t simply the fans that knew that this performance was more than a concert, it was a fight against haters. As fireworks started, Zouk Mikael Amphitheater metaphorically turned into a battlefield where Hamed Sinno kicked Fouad El Adem’s ass by simply dedicating one song to him “Eskandar Ma’louf.”
As their performance ended, I walked towards the backstage entrance hoping to catch a glimpse of my personal hero where I could actually tell him the one hundred things I’ve always wanted to say. As I waited, I naively asked a cop “how’s it going?” and he nodded back at me with a very cold facial expression, I couldn’t tell whether he thought I would turn into a zombie and bite him or if he simply was disgusted by my homosexuality, and either way I didn’t care.
I walked back to stage after a few minutes of no one coming out besides whoever got backstage passes. I started watching the last performance of the night, Who Killed Bruce Lee playing their energetic and enthusiastic music on stage when I received a text from my friend who stood at the backstage entrance telling me to come quick. I ran passed dancing people, nearly tripping a couple of times until I finally arrived and saw Hamed standing with a bunch of people surrounding him and taking pictures. At that moment, I forgot everything I ever wanted to say, I simply walked up and said “Can I hug you?” and the answer was yes.
After a group photo with my friends, I asked for one more by myself where I surprised him with a kiss that I had held for years until I finally got to meet him. His reaction brought me even more joy as the photo was taken, all those words I wanted to say simply came out in a couple of hugs and a kiss to a person I deeply consider a hero, as him, his music and his band helped me (and surely many people) get through the second stage of coming out and get to the most wonderful and freeing one of all, Pride.
All in all, the performances were wonderful and the bands all did magnificently, hopefully my detailed experience could at least put the people who couldn’t attend stand in my shoes. See you at Mashrou3 Leila’s next performance, at Wickerpark on September 7th, get your tickets at http://www.ihjoz.com
No the attack was not only on the Transgender/Transsexual/Transvestite community.
The attack was against all the community.
Some might be mistaken by thinking that the police have a problem only with men wearing women’s clothes. Even if that dickhead has taken them as an example to justify his malicious actions.
In Lebanon, you feel that there is acceptance for a male sleeping with another if he remains a man. How? Simply by abiding to the general perception of how a man should be.
1- He should wear men’s clothes. Of Course!!! We are oriental, we live in an oriental society, where manhood has a meaning that is different from anywhere of the world. I’m an oriental man. I have body and facial hair all over, I brag about it… My manhood is built upon erasing the presence of women. Hell yeah, she should be submissive to me. Why cause my Mama has treated me like a prince, she fulfills all what I need, but if she doesn’t?! I beat her, or at least I get grumpy like a kid and start nagging like b*tch!!!
A man wearing women’s clothes?! Hell I’m confused, this is the end of the world. Men in our countries should not be weak, they’re not allowed to cry, they’re not allowed to get in touch with their deep emotions. They should be tough (*ROAR*). Oriental men should be like lions, they just move to go eat, piss all over their territory, and have fights with other lions to prove dominance, oh and kill little children that can become potential threats to the throne, including the children in us.
2-Of course an oriental man is not allowed to get F*cked. What?! What’s next?!?! Them wearing skirts?!?! Well in Scotland they do, and they’re sizzling hot manly!!! A man in our countries is still allowed to f*ck men, even donkeys. But getting F*cked?!?!? haaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!! Then we start bullying him : BYENTEK. LOUTEH!! Some bullying starts at home, some in the street, some at work!!! Well, I’ve met many straight men that have the fetish of getting F*cked! So what???!!! Are they any less as men?! I never thought that a man’s hole is public property!!! In the army, a guy that gets f*cked is sent away from the army, because “he’s less of a man”. A guy that f*cks, is only punished, but he’s still man enough to eat raw snakes (*ROAR* again).
3- It doesn’t stop here, oriental men should not wear traditional clothes anymore. In Lebanon, that’s part of being half a man, now you should wear a regular untight jeans that don’t show your ass, or a suit cause you’re so European. You’re are not allowed to put Arabic maskara, people tend to forget that Arabs used to do. A man also is shamed for doing plastic surgeries. An oriental man doesn’t really care for his looks, his machismo is enough. You’re not allowed to pluck your eyebrows (HOOOOOO). Well I know straight men who do all of these. Hell, I know straight men that even like to wear women’s clothes in bed, and also put make up, with the reddest lipstick.
In Lebanon, if you match what an oriental man is, even if you’re gay, you’re accepted, because you’re still a man. While all the hate goes on against Transgenders/Transvestites/Transsexuals cause they refuse to be oriental men, they don’t wanna be men maybe in the 1st place, but they’re not allowed this privilege. Born a man, you die like a man! Right?! You have a d*ck?! You’re doomed!!!
I call on extra protection for the Transsexual community, they are taking all the hate to protect us, they’re defying the norms to make us feel accepted, they’re the first victims of Homophobia, even inside the community.
Oh and one last thing, I call on bar owners and managers not to abide by homophobic conceptions, to refuse fear, and not to forbid Transsexuals from entering their bars, cause that for sure is a crime against the community, against our HEROES (HEROINES)
F*ck you, oriental man….
By Joseph Aoun
My imaginary Lebanon
Once upon the time, there was a Lebanese mother of two, who cared for her children, Antoine and Antonella, and tried to raise them to love each others and take care of each others.
Antonella, was a transgender, she was loved by all, beautiful, humble, had a high sense of humor, lived like a diva, wore the best high heels in town.
Antoine, was a constipated straight guy, he didn’t find his place in the gay community because of his ugly character and closeted case, and had no sense of FAB.
They grew together, Antonella tried her best to let her brother embrace the love of life, but he always refused it. Jealousy have blinded his eyes and heart from seeing the love Antonella had for him. All he could see was the love of people towards his sister and always envied her for that. He never understood the fact of him not being popular like her. People loved her genuinely. She always managed to grab attention wherever she was, while him, nobody looked at him in her presence.
Antoine decided to run for municipality one day. Antonella was there for him, and she played a major role in his campaign, people voted for him because they loved her so much. But Antoine couldn’t really appreciate that cause his heart was full of hatred.
He hated her so much till he became homophobic against every Fabulous person. It’s not true that gay people are harmless, he used to say, they are malicious, they forbid me of people’s love. He never knew that people could see the hatred in him and his incapacity of loving, and therefore could not love him like they love Antonella, who loved life, loved people, and was humble and glamorous in the same time.
One day, Antoine thought of his position as head of the municipality, and thought to use it for his own personal interest, by revenging from Antonella, so he decided to close Ghost, a place where she used to gather with her friends to have some fun and change some mood, and humiliate his sister in front of people, he conducted her to the police stations of the municipality without having any legitimacy for such an act, removed her clothes, and took pictures of her beautiful body, thinking that people would be disgusted.
What Antoine ignored this time, is that people stood more than ever with Antonella, they cried for seeing her being humiliated in that way, having her body violated, seeing a brother doing such a thing to his sister, making her suffer verbal violence by ignorant policemen, who hit her, and raped her dignity.
What Antoine ignored also, was the fact that Antonella is not weak, she will never have her pride broken, she will never go submissive by force. Antonella this time knew that her brother needs to be taught a lesson. Antonella will take off her high heels and make sure it leaves a mark on Antoine’s head, just because she loved him and she needs him to wake up of his hatred mode.
Let us all be Antonella…