FOF #599 – Gays in the Muslim World
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It’s easy to take your daily life for granted. Despite not having universal health care, equal rights or the ability to get married, we still have it pretty good in the United States. But, there […]
As a gay man who has lives most of the past 11 years in the Middle East, I can’t wait to download and listed to this episode. Of course, living in the Middle East means it takes 100 times longer to download stuff off the net than in the rest of the world.
I’d be interested to hear comparisons of my experiences (fat (or “steroid-fat”), hairy, I’m only oral or top, 30-second cummers, selfish, arrogant men who think they’re not gay if they’re the ones fucking) to those of the author. Or there are the married lebanese who seem to be exclusively 100% bottom when in the sack.
According to iTunes, only 6 hours remaining til the download’s finished. Welcome to Kuwait!
It’s EE-raq. AY-raq sounds [and is] so trailer park.
The WSJ had a great article on this topic:
Daily Archive – April 3, 2007
April 3, 2007, 6:47 pm
Gay Life Thrives, Quietly, in Saudi Arabia
Gay life is flourishing in Saudi Arabia, despite the country’s puritanical laws. The kingdom’s adherence to sharia, or Islamic law, as its sole legal code largely impedes socializing between men and women. Nadya Labi reports in the May issue of the Atlantic (subscription required) that such strict separation in many ways has made it easier to be gay than straight in a society that forbids all sexual activity outside of marriage.
Sodomy remains punishable by death in the kingdom, which maintains long lists of prohibitions — against smoking, drinking or going to discos. In many homes, families won’t allow a man to be alone with an unrelated woman, but that standard doesn’t apply to companions of the same sex. For some Saudis, the strict limits on gender-mixing have made homosexual relationships a safer or more accessible option, as long as the behavior is kept private. Consequently, cities like Riyadh and Jeddah have emerged as centers of gay life in the Middle East. As it has elsewhere, the Internet has provided a convenient way for people to connect privately — Web access has grown tenfold in the kingdom since 2000.
While the West associates homosexual behavior with sexual orientation, the Middle East traditionally hasn’t — homosexual behavior often is regarded as an act, not an orientation. Many people who act on sexual urges don’t consider themselves gay, and others dismiss past homosexual behavior in their lives as part of growing up. Even the 18th century religious scholar who founded Wahhabism, the fundamentalist form of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia, drew a distinction between homosexual desire and homosexual acts. Today, gays in Saudi Arabia operate under something akin to a Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell shield — parents who suspect their children are homosexual say nothing, rather than risk any shame that knowledge of the truth might bring.
Still, in a country where nearly everyone — gay and straight — lives a highly restricted life, gay rights aren’t a subject of discussion. Western gay pride advocacy is seen as “too much a masquerade for attention,” says one gay Saudi man. “Women’s rights, gay rights — why? Get your rights without being too loud.” – Nick Timiraos
In regards to the guy who burned the Koran and how you said it was a waste of money. Every year people spend thousands on fireworks and Christmas lights. Your thoughts?
Could be wrong, but i don’t think there’s an analogy between the koran burning and the general waste of money, even if that waste has a supposed religious undertone. i think if someone burned the shroud of turin in protest against a belief of christianity, the public outcry would be monumental. i tend to agree with fausto in that he could’ve easily sold the book and donated the moolah to an organization that could concretely deal with the issues he opposes.
Best Guest Ever!
I loved the Middle Eastern flavored opening theme song. Terrific!
Fausto, as far as I could tell, didn’t have any issue with the burning of the Koran on a spiritual level. He had issue with it being worth $60,000 and that the money could have been used to benefit people. The point I was trying to make is that there are things throughout our culture where the money could be used for better things. Fireworks not only are expensive, but horrible for the environment, yet every year different cultures all over the planet use them. The war in Iraq is another good example. I kinda agree with Fausto about the book burning being a waste of money, but I can also see the point of the person who burned it.
Great interview! It sounds like you could get moocherx on the podcast for a follow-up, to probe the issue further… 😉
There is a documentary called “Dangerous Living (Coming Out in the Developing World)” which shows many gay related issues with coming out in various cultures – including the 52 gay men on the Queens Boat on the Nile in Egypt in May, 2001.
Very enlightening and interesting show. In some ways, the way it is in muslim countries reminds me very much of traditional Asian views, in that homosexuality is very much tolerated, but identity as “gay” is frowned upon. Similarly I see a lot in ancient asian history where homosexuality with certainty do exist, but remain hidden part of society. People certainly do not identify themselves as “gay” even if they have sexual relations with people of the same sex. Similar to what was said in the interview, it wasn’t until up take of western values that intolerance and the gay identity become more prevalent.
The “gay” identity is very much a western concept in viewing behavior as black and white. By claiming and acknowledging the “gay” identity, one is labeling (and classifying) oneself, in a sense, limiting oneself to a particular behavior. I can somewhat understand my parent’s viewpoint, about me “limiting” myself to homosexual relationships.
In someways, I think the muslim countries where sexual orientation is more fluid is somewhat more advanced than western culture. I suppose it would be comparable to what is termed “metrosexual” in western societies. However, intolerance of the “gay” identity forces homosexuality into the shadows and prevents those societies from further advancement.
To waste money is not the same as spending it. If I burned 30,000 dollars in cash instead of donating it to someone/some charity you’d think I was out of my mind.
I could say that I’m against what the U.S. Govt’ stands for and that’s why I’m burning 30,000 in cash. I would get lots of publicity and you could argue that I’m making a point.
But if you really belive constructively in your message, you’d see the value of the book/money/item as a tool to build a better world, not burn a part of it.
People buying decorations and throwing them away is not a waste, because they enjoyed them. Nobody enjoyed this guys work of art, and he probably burned it where nobody could see it.
It would be the equivalent of me buying Christmas decorations, and burning them because I’m against Christmas. Not much fun or really that big of a message if you look hard enough.
Swarthy – just the way I like them too. If Michael Luongo and I went cruising together, sounds like we would constantly be cockblocking eachother. Ah well, I don’t mind sharing. In the Netherlands we have one of the world’s only (or so they claim) Arabic gay bars: Habibi Anna. But what really fascinates me is the park-phenomenon. Lots of married Arab men out in the parcs at night here – all claiming to be top (because being bottom would be too feminine) and then very easily flipping when you get them into bed. (This is second-hand information as I don’t do parks, but I know an expert in this area.) There is something unusual (to a Westerner) going on with their concept of masculinity. At some point my expert friend got called names (fag) by a group of young Arabs when he passed them, though on separate occasions he had ‘had’ 3 of them. Must be group behaviour. Will be checking out that book, sounds fascinating.
That was a great interview and I’m going to buy one or more of Michael’s books (through the FoF link, of course).
One thing I think that Michael has wrong however is to say that Islam is a religion of peace. It certainly isn’t. The Koran and the other teachings of the Prophet quite clearly advocate the extermination of all non-muslims. I’ll go on to say that Christianity is also a religion based on and explicitly advocating violence. I don’t know enough about the other major religions to have an opinion.
This isn’t to say that Muslims and Christians are not peaceful as individuals, because in my experience they usually are. But their religous claims to peace come from ignoring large and important sections of their own religous texts and historical teachings. The unfortunate fact is the the bin laden philosophy is probably the closest form of pure Islam based on a strict reading of the Muslim holy texts, and Fred Phelps is probably the closest form of pure christianity based on a strict reading of the Christian holy texts. The extremests just accept at face value what their religions teach.
I think this shows why both religions should be avoided.