In this weekend’s SMH in the Good Weekend David Marr has written an excellent article on being arabic and gay in Australia.
I know that Kurdish families in the UK practise honour killings on daughters who go native, ie marry or just shag white guys. Here, they don’t go that far. Just beat them black & blue. Gay arabic kids can have the most spectacular family bustup: beaten up, their wallets, id, everything taken off them, thrown onto the street, stripped of family connection.
Lots of parallels are happening here for me. I did the gay arab tour in 1979, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia. The last two countries are appropriate because they were part of the Ottoman empire. My maternal family lived under that culture.
First synchronicity: Catholicism, or rather the SICK end of its spectrum practises exorcism on gay people. So apparently does Islam. Of course Mohammed on his deathbed could not distinguish between devil and angel. Nor could a lot of christian saints! It’s too complicated.
Second: the PAIN. Gay arabic kids talk about their orientation being a constant pain that they would do just about ANYTHING to make it go away. Years of feeling haunted, self-consciousness that bubbled into panic attacks from mid-adolescence onwards. And if you’re tall & poetic, yobs in holdens will jeer at you at street corners, if you’re unselfconsciously striking a poetic attitude!!! A lot of Qld country kids have to leave town so that their family are not shamed. Oxford St is like a refugee centre for ex-Qld’ers. The ones who NEED their family too much commit suicide, take the 303 into a back paddock and become their own target.
Marr describes gay arabic kids ruminating painfully about how to put two disparate hemispheres together: their family ties and their gay identity. That is a biggie, really for ALL gay, lesbian & intergender folk here; but for us woggy ones. We look up & realise life in fast-paced cosmopolitan Europe has moved on, acceptance is a reality, while here in the ethnic backwater it’s often still 1950 or preferably 1850. Beirut is described as a haven of openness, beautiful lesbian couples walking its streets, completely unselfconsciously. WHY, we moan, can’t it happen here already. YES, it happens, one day a year, in the MG parade on Oxford Street, but in the back lots of Auburn, Mt Druit et al, it all moves slowly, controlled by the iron grip of a matriarch who is still in recovery from her own personal crisis of world war two.
May we all be able to express ourselves with dignity and joy!!
PS, while we’re on the subject of gay activism, on this week’s Ellen Degeneris show, the smiling one took the ocean fishing industry to task. It uses dragnets that catch everything, turtles, whales, dolphins, which are hauled in dead, & just tossed overboard. The amount of oceanfloor damage is phenomenal. She quotes a scientific extrapolation that says a lot of the ocean populations will just disappear by 2030. She stopped eating fish, as a personal ethical stance. The things we queers do, we’re beautiful, we’re everywhere.