Phoenix Rising B.S.

Music On, Music Off
A highlight from Daraj l Fann - the "art stairway"
Word has it Acid re-opened its doors last Friday. It’s good to hear about a place (re)opening up in Beirut, rather than more places (including the Government) shutting down, amidst all the “Lebanon is at the edge of major civil turmoil” and the “the country’s due for its next war” that we’re hearing around.

It was starting to look like a pattern in the last two months, with Acid closing down, then Ahwet l ‘ezez – a symbolic old-style Gemmayze hangout turning into a bank branch – then Basement – a pillar of Beirut’s electronic music scene falling under the real estate frenzy – to mention just these two. Pretty depressing indeed in this gloomy political atmosphere.

What exactly ended up happening with Acid, did the manager come to terms with the owner, the neighbors – and what was the real problem to begin with anyway? I do not know. But what’s reassuring’ about it being back up is that it disproves those who thought it had something to do with it being a gay club.

Apart from a serious identity issue (the
college football font and the rest of the flyer says
it all), the RGB party was ok fun
A few weeks ago there was a tweet about this article that read “One Beirut Gay club down, two sprout up!”. The two clubs in question were RGB in Sin el Fil (tried it once) and Vice Versa in Broummana (haven’t tried), which I believe are both still on. The editor at GayMiddleEast made it sound as another great example of Beirut’s ‘eternal ability to reinvent itself’ or the ‘phoenix rising’ cliché bullshit, and even ended his article with a resounding “Beirut – the super cool gay capital of the Arab world!”.

With all the shit going on in the country (and Acid back up!), this all seems so hard to swallow today!

UPDATE: I found out from Boy Breathing Beirut that they closed Acid back last Monday. Officially red-taped. Allegedly the place "promotes sexual deviance”.


K Gets Some Support

DrFaDi says:

First, i would like to congratulate you for choosing a psychologist who believes he cannot change you. Actually, being gay is no longer considered to be a mental illness. On the contrary, shrinks should not try to change sexuality of a person, but make him feel comfortable with it.

Banky: policemen (London)

I believe your problem is being afraid of your homosexuality. Have you thought of WHY you are afraid of being gay? Are you afraid of being different? I think you already know that homosexuality is normal, i would even say it's natural. What is more convincing is knowing that there are gay animals!! In animal kingdom, religion and society don't play any role, so they can behave as they please. (btw, statistics show there are 10% of a population that is gay, just so you don't feel lonely).

It's too bad that society has put limits for this natural preference. It was common in Greek and Roman societies to have gay sex, it was even common between the teacher and his student. Athletes used to do it too, many ancient drawings show this. But when monotheist religions came and ruled, they banned all these practices and considered them as sins. It is even banned for married couples to have sex if not planning to conceive. They just want to protect The Family.

Nowadays, since the liberation of minds and declaration of Human Rights, homosexuality is being liberated from religion. Societies are looking at gay people in a human point of view. They are after all as human as straight people. So my advice for you is accept yourself, be happy with yourself, and don't worry! There are many openly gay people who succeeded, there are even more who are in the closet but still help their brothers. We should be united to change society's view. Be proud to be gay!

Majd says:

Yo, K, I just came out to my Palestinian/Syrian dad living in Canada a couple of months ago. It was difficult, full of contradictions. And i'm still living the shock resulting from it. I haven't had a conversation with him that's more than "hi, how are you." since i told him. Like you, i'm not OK with the way casual sex is, in a way, shoved down our throats (no pun intended), although i have a many friends who enjoy it. It's ok to have those different contradictions. The most important thing is that we're aware of them and try to resolve them.

Anon says:

Great post ! To this anonymous writer from another anonymous writer... If there is a reason why gays would ever want to change, its not because of us being gay- its because society is still learning to understand and accept us. We are living in a historical and changing time period. But if society accepted us just like they do heterosexuals, i highly doubt anyone would ever think of changing. The love and intimacy that two guys share is beyond words, but if i have to think of a word to describe it, it would be "phenomenal".

That alone would never make me want to change to please others- that fact that it feels so right and natural. I'm a 100 % Lebanese, happily married(to a guy) . We have a child together and my Lebanese parents and cousins all know and love me unconditionally. My Husband, son and I attend church regularly and the pastor loves and respects us as we are. We live our lives very normally and rarely ever encounter prejudiced or discrimination. We enjoy being an pioneers in our community and braking barriers for the younger LGBT generation who needs good role models. I pray that you can find some inner peace and love and acceptance.
In Pride we Trust

Anon says:

If I may, there are a couple assumptions here that aren't shared by the entire gay community. For example, I didn't start understanding I was gay until much later in my life, thinking that my attraction to men was simply because of the lack of women in my life (I lived in Syria, where gender segregation was more popular). Once I moved to Lebanon, and a short trip to England later, I realized I could have access to all the women in the world, and it wasn't going to change what I wanted.

Never did it cross my mind, though, that there was something wrong with me. I understood quickly that there was prejudice against who I was, but I didn't think that who I was was particularly wrong or vile - I thought other people were prejudiced. Reconciling my faith and my identity were harder, but somehow being biologically who I am just didn't seem so wrong to me.

Which brings us to the pill question: No. Even after thought, even after realizing that I'd have to work harder and live in the periphery, I don't want a pill that would change me. I'd be far more frightened of anything that would so fundamentally change me than anything anyone can throw at me. Literally - I fear not being myself more than losing my life. This isn't to say that your experience isn't legitimate or that others don't experience what you experience.

It's just too kind of offset the assumption that we ALL feel that way. As for telling parents and stuff, that is more along the lines of not hurting them rather than not being comfortable with who we are. I also hide that I drink and eat pork, and have occasionally smoked stuff that wasn't tobacco. That's not about being ashamed of that as much as I know my parents would really, really not like it.


K’s Shout Out

Dear GiBs,

It’s only been 2 days since I’ve been reading your blog, and today seeing that you haven't written anything yet in 2011, I decided to write to you.

I could relate to many things you said, but not to most.

Like you, I have lived my whole life in Beirut, I understand the culture we live in and the injustice that is part of our lives. Whether we are gay or not.

Like you, I come from a disappearing middle class, one that like any other social class in Lebanon is filled with social and family obligations.

My path however is quite different from yours.

I realized that I was gay a couple of years ago, and scared about it I decided to go to a psychologist for help, with the hope he could help me change.
He explained to me since the beginning, that there is nothing that can be done. I did a one-year therapy (secretly), at the end of which I decided to tell it all to my parents. It wasn't easy, and now, one year later, it still isn't.

Throughout therapy I could never find a guy here because he would be Lebanese, and Lebanon being a big village we would be bound to meet again or know someone he knows.

After telling my parents, I realized I could not live here any more and therefore left to the States for a year. During that year, I made great friends, had some amazing experiences, but nothing sexual. I was too afraid to take a step in that direction.

While abroad I would always have the same discussions with the gay guys I met. The minute I would meet one I would ask him:

- I there was a pill....
- NO!
- But you didn’t even hear the question...
- I know your question! They warned me about you! If there was a pill that would make me go straight?!
- Euh... yeah
- Well the answer is no!
- How can you say no so quickly! I mean think about it!

… and then I would go on depicting a scene almost as in science fiction, where gays would line up to turn straight just by swallowing one pill – in the back of my paranoiac mind there would be a side effect to that pill, but of course I would never add it to the discussion.

It would take me almost 20 minutes afterwards to describe to them the scene, the characters they were, and the advantages of being ‘like everyone else’. I would look at them, their eyes buried into deep thoughts, hesitantly change their answers from this offended "NO" to a tentative "I don’t know… it depends...", or an undecided "maybe".

Basically my whole point with this is how do you accept it enough for you to live it?

Because in my mind NO ONE, NO gay accepts it fully. There will always be a small noise nagging you from inside your head. Which is normal. No one wants to be different. No one wants to be part of a minority that has to fight for their right of existence.

But how do you accept it enough for you to act upon it? How does GiL’s horniness to pick up a complete stranger outweigh his fear of this stranger stealing from him, killing him? What he recounted is even worse than my imagination had created.

I’ve never been to Acid, or Bardo or any of the places you talk about. In fact, I never understood people who go there. Aren’t they scared of being recognized by other people?

You seem to be quite comfortable with your homosexuality but (if I understood correctly from your blog) you haven’t told your parents yet while I, who is still fighting it internally, already have. So many contradictions lay between us!

I want to believe I am not the only one that feels this way, though while reading your blog and others’, that’s not how it seems.

If being gay is difficult enough, being gay in a third world country is even harder... but being gay in a third world country and not accepting it after a year of therapy and another one abroad is more than I can deal with.

I hope you were not offended by anything I said, because it isn’t at all my objective but simply the way I look at life.

Thank you for sharing your experiences, I am sure you are helping people, not only in Lebanon, but around the world to accept themselves.

-Your fellow GiB

-- guest post by K. Photo taken by GiB#2 in San Francisco.

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