GiB#2 | W.C.ruised

I was hanging out at the Beirut Souks a couple weeks ago, keeping an eye out for a cool swimsuit – the one thing I still need to get for the summer. I find one but it’s for $200 at Aizone, and the 30$ one at H&M is just not it. Boring. I need to pee.

After looking for the restrooms for about 10 minutes, I finally figure out that the access is through the stairs from inside the restaurant. It’s quiet and secluded up there, and sounds empty except for one guy washing his hands. I walk in towards the urinals, all three of which are empty. They have no partition between each other, an unusual thing in prude Lebanon.

I admit to choosing the middle one – perhaps randomly, perhaps because I’m a man of the middle, indecisive as a Libra; perhaps it’s the adventurous GiB lost in lust who picked it, the anywhere-anytime type of guy. The fact of the matter is, I chose the middle one.

A few seconds later, I hear the guy’s now using the hand dryer. But instead of leaving then, he walks back to the urinal next to me and unzips as if to pee. I’m thinking, who the hell does the hand-washing before the peeing? Ten seconds later he’s still standing there, but there’s no sound of any fluids. I feel he’s peeking at me. When I turn to look at him, he’s indeed staring, and oh, he’s also jerking off.

This is gross and embarrassing, and the guy’s not my type. And even if he was, I’m not up for it today: my date of the moment is meeting me at the Souks in about an hour, and I already have enough weight on my conscience for dating this guy, a friend of my ex. So please spare me also having to cope with the idea that I had a quickie in the restroom while waiting for him.

Sorry dude, no-go it is. So much for ever doing it in a public restroom, maybe some other time – I’m out of here!

Although not-so-hot, this furtive GiB episode kept me wondering. I can’t imagine how a straight guy would have reacted in my place, getting cruised by a random guy at the urinal – I mean this is Lebanon, and this thing could easily turn into a gay bashing scene. I’m not straight, so it was not a big deal.

For having lived abroad, I know that public restrooms often serve as gay cruising spots in other countries. I also know that GiBs are getting way out of control these days... But GiBs cruising in public restrooms of Beirut's malls?! That sure is news to me…


GiB#2 | What is This Mykonos?!

I didn’t get to go, but I hear SuperMartxé did turn out to be one hell of a huge fun GiB party, at least according to some friends who stayed there till 6.

Now it’s the turn of Matinée, the organizers of the famous Circuit Festival in Barcelona (the gay festival par excellence), to make a stop in Beirut for their World Tour. For one whole day on July 18, GiBs will turn the swimming pool of the Riviera hotel on the Corniche from Silicon-Botox Beach to… well GiB Beach.

… and these parties are all firsts. It’s kinda crazy this year!


Do gay men eat fastfood?

Using the LGBT cause to win customers is quite debatable. The following TVC was launched by McDonald's France the past months.

Remember, beyond the positive discrimination, this campaign concept is nothing but a copy of a Lebanese campaign: COME AS YOU ARE was launched by Crepaway, a major casual restaurant chain in Beirut, back in 2005. They had all sorts of funny situations portrayed in posters, billboards, web campaigns; but never included the GiB element. McDonald's started their campaign in 2008. Are international brands following the footsteps of our local companies. Will GiBs break the stereotype of cozy home-cooking and go for a fast burger served by a clown? So many unanswered mysteries..


GiB#2 | When Nature Wins Over

Beirut is no Green city.

Only a handful of public green areas still exist today within the city, like Sanayeh or Sioufi. Large privately owned lands like the American University of Beirut’s campus or the French ambassadors’ Residence des Pins (el Horch), are among the very few lots that have survived rampant urbanization. The recent efforts to plant trees on street borders remain marginal (often at the expense of the sidewalk, only adding to the already dreadful pedestrian experience). Our waste treatment company Sukleen has the monopole (of poor recycling). Our numerous NGOs are too often helpless… And the government’s efforts to fight air and water pollution are nearly non-existent: we have free ventilation coming from the sea, don’t we?

…So to remind us of this windy blessing, on hot windless days, the Qarantina waste treatment facility (or is it the livestock containers from the Port, or maybe the nearby slaughterhouse?) emanates nauseous smells into the entire Northern part of the city… and no need to mention noise pollution as the cherry on the cake, as it’s far too alien of a concept around here.

Yet, I like to think that things might be taking a Green turn. Certainly not through marketing gimmicks of political parties like the Marada’s latest campaign pretending to be “Green”, but perhaps through combined public/private Green efforts such as these: A recent article in TimeOut states that a major project is almost underway, that would turn the banks of Beirut River into public garden spaces; The man-made island facing Qarantina is supposed to turn into a public garden. Solidere has long promised to create public gardens in Downtown and in a large part of the reclaimed coastal land around Biel. As for air pollution, there are talks about reviving public transportation including the historic tramway and railroad; and the call is growing to harnessing renewable energy in Lebanon.

In the midst of these all-too-pale green prospects, my most enjoyable spectacle is that of Mother Nature claiming back some of its rights, not by design this time, but by force.

This fig tree in the first photo of a bridge in Beirut, took advantage of our negligence in maintaining our road infrastructure, and found its nest in one of the water evacuation holes.

Green-haired botanist Patrick Blanc made a good choice by choosing Beirut, joining forces with up-and-coming architect Karim Begdache to develop one its famous vertical gardens: sometimes our walls naturally do that! (second photo of a wall in Gemmayze).

My own favorite is when nature reclaims the stones of our city’s abandoned mansions. In the third photo which was taken not in Beirut, but in Sour (Tyre), this blossoming pomegranate tree (grenadier, remmene) was able to develop its whole roots vasculature up in the air, without any contact with the ground, feeding off a leak in the sewage pipes…

Say GiBs, don’t you just love it when nature wins over?


GiB#2 | It’s Getting Warm in Here

A few weeks ago I put up a post that was sort of an open call for a true gay festival in Beirut. Judging by the parties going on in June, I think we’re getting closer to it every week!

 As one would have expected, Danny Tenaglia’s gig last Saturday was as GiBby as it gets. The crowd was perhaps smaller than usual, but GiB attendance was massive for this exceptional performance of the gay DJ who went on till dawn.

But watch out: Even bigger GiB-oriented events are coming up next.

Supermartxé, the famous label from Spain, is kicking off its summer 2010 world tour in Ibiza on June 18, then flying straight to Beirut where it will throw a potentially huge party at la Marina Dbayeh on June 19. The advertising campaign is now in full motion. The flyers were all over the place last Saturday in Hamra, discrete yet suggestive... let’s hope the gig lives up to its promise!

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