Queer Arab women stage reading of ‘real stories from real people’

ActivismIsrael/PalestineMiddle East
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Bareed mista3jil
Bareed Mista3jil (Image: Meem)

A group of Arab/Arab American women are transforming the book Bareed Mista3jil, a collection of “41 true (and personal) stories from lesbians, bisexuals, queer and questioning women, and transgender persons from all over Lebanon”, into a stage performance. The actors are fundraising for an April conference in Istanbul. The performers will read narratives from some of the 150 anonymous authors who contributed to the book.

The book was compiled by the Lebanese organization Meem, which works with other queer Arab groups to counter Israel’s “pinkwashing” tactics. Activists may remember Meem from voices speaking out against the Stand With Us LGBTQ workshop at the U.S. Social Forum.

Take a look at excerpts from the book below.

Excerpt from the story “How It All Started”:

And so it went for a long time. Nightlife was the only place ‘fortinfees’. The general attitude wasn’t really about activism; it was about meeting up. And of course, problems arose inside the so-called “community” at the time. The more people we met, the more we found friends and rivals. Fights broke out between people all the time. Some were benign, but some got really serious. People would report each other to the police or out each other to their families. A lot of people were severely depressed and got lost in their double lives that they became hooked on alcohol or drugs. There were no daytime conversations; everything happened at night. We came to Acid every week with our most basic instincts on our sleeves to let out all the tensions from our daytime closets.

Excerpt from the story “God’s Will”:

My mother is a devout Muslim woman. Her belief in God is so powerful that she surrenders everything to His will. Anything that happens is because God wills it. And so she didn’t question or challenge my homosexuality ‘Allah heik ketiblik,’ she said. She told me it made no sense for her to try to change God’s will. Shortly after, I told my father, and he had the same reaction: ‘We cannot change what is God’s will. If it is meant for you to change, you will change on your own.’ This is an odd reaction for Muslim parents, who usually get scared of their children’s actions being sinful. Not my parents. When they thought about it and discussed the matter between themselves, they deduced that my living a lie was a bigger sin than my sexuality. They told me that it was better for me to be honest with myself and my parents than to be a hypocrite.

For more on the stage performance of Bareed Mista3jil, check our their kickstarter.

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