Dress It Up In Light

Just superb. That's the one word I would use to describe the sound & light show of the UFA event/competition, which premiered yesterday and will play again a few times until end of year.

For info, the insurance company brought together a bunch of Lebanese artists who created really cool short clips that were projected on the Downtown building. It used a very high-tech kind of 3D projectors that would tailor the projections to the greatest detail of the heritage building. Each competitor team's artwork came with its own soundtrack and had at least something creative, something impressive or something interesting about it... Long live young Lebanese talents, creativity, and energy!

On the downside this high level of quality makes it hard to choose who I want to vote for... I'll need to bring a better jacket and watch the show again another time (no worries, it's free!). But for now, I thought I'd use some of the low-res pics I took to make this collage - consider this my holiday wishes card! Best wishes to all of you folks.

- Post and pics by GiB#2.


Life Without Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Americans have been actively debating lately on an old policy referred to as “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, a policy that allows the military to investigate its applicants’ sexual orientation and to prevent openly gay guys and girls from joining and serving in the military. The Democrats put back this question on the table last year in yet another effort to repeal this old policy, and due to the newly acquired power of the Republicans, to no

...that's until yesterday, when the happy news came out: “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” has been repealed. Big win for LGBT rights activists and for a number of personalities who are highly sensitive and personally implicated in this issue from Barak Obama to… Lady Gaga. The reaction in America is nothing less than a jubilation - take a look at this excellent mashup on the subject from the Huffington Post.

But just like the U.S. is geographically, this debate is thousands of miles away from the level of our own debate here in Lebanon. Here, it is hard to even imagine putting the words “gay” and “military” in the same sentence. As a matter of fact, we’re not even able to put on the national debate agenda an archaic law that criminalizes homosexuality, let alone actually repealing it… but this post is not just another bashing of our infamous Article 534 – it’s about our very own version of don’t-ask-don’t-tell.

When I first heard there was a movement in the States to repeal don’t-ask-don’t-tell before I knew what it meant, I thought: Who the hell would want to revoke a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy? can you imagine what life here would be like for us gay guys in particular, if it weren’t for the don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy that the Lebanese people sort of abide to nowadays: "If I don’t ask or tell you my religion / political affiliation / what turns me on, then please, don’t ask or tell me in return."

Knowing how indiscreet and judgmental Lebanese people can be, sometimes we can almost hear through their thoughts as they scrutinize us wondering to themselves ,“does he have a girlfriend?”, “is he married?”, “is he gay?” – what would it be like if they did not keep at least some of their questions internally to themselves? I mean it’s one thing to be “out” and comfortable with oneself as a gay guy, and another thing to have to deal with this kind of people’s questions and opinions on a daily basis…

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing, not a ring: just please, never ever repeal don’t-ask-don’t-tell in Lebanon!

- By Gib#2. Photo credit: The Huffington Post


Nudity and the Family Jewels

“The management” of the gym I go to put up a “notice” recently, reminding everyone that they can’t be walking in the nude in the Lockers area “for ethical reasons”. Chance for us to talk a bit about the Lebanese and their family jewels.

It is no secret that we are quite a conservative society, and as such, we tend to be quite inhibited when it comes to nudity. That Lebanese guys hate to be naked around each others is easy to notice through many little things of everyday life, especially for us GiBs who tend to notice them due to our interest in men.

Our society seems to close the loop against public displays of nudity on both sides of the equation. On one hand, guys don’t like to show up naked, even in men-only environments, and never had to do it growing up for reasons like not having Pool Day at school. And on the other hand, every public place is designed to encourage this kind of privacy, from individual changing cabins to individual shower rooms, such that guys never have to get used to it anyway.

This is very different from the West, where I discovered as a kid that it was normal, for example, to shower in an open shower room along with classmates. It happened without carrying any sexual connotation whatsoever. Being raised not to associate nudity with shame and taboo as we are here, I believe the kids abroad stand a bigger chance to grow through puberty more comfortable with their body and with themselves in general.

Also in the West, it is generally accepted for guys to hang around naked in front of each others, say in a gym’s or a pool’s locker room. How many movies have that locker room scene where you get to take a peak at the lead actor? There, nudity among men seems to come much more naturally and more often than not, there are simply no ‘privacy options’ even for the shy to play prude.

As far as I can tell from my own experience, this inhibition is also true of Lebanese family men within the privacy of their own home. They are uncomfortable being naked in the presence of their wife and kids. I was almost shocked the first time I went to Europe as a kid and saw that in my cousin’s family, it was normal for daddy to shower all together with mommy and the three kids – not something I would ever see back home. And no, they were not naturists.

I don’t consider myself to be neither a voyeur, nor an exhibitionist, just a guy who doesn’t mind seeing a naked guy around. Within the limits of moral behavior, I consider that every person is free to be as uninhibited as they want – on the basis that others can just look away if they’re bothered. It’s a personal choice and a cultural matter. And as much as I respect other people’s feelings and ethics, I hate being told what to do and not do as far as personal and cultural matters…

… so to “the Management” of the gym, I just want to say that this notice sounds kind of backwards to me - and I hope it doesn’t have anything to do with homophobia…

-- by GiB#2

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