“Same As Me”: A Different Kind of Magazine for the Middle East

29 Apr

How do you say “gay” in Arabic?

Shazz” – “Gay” and “pervert.” So… let’s try again.

Zemel” – “Gay,” but also an expletive. No again.

Mithly” – 1. Arabic for “the same as me.” 2. A respectful way to refer to homosexuals. 3. The name of a gay magazine launched in Morocco this month.

The LA Times’ “Babylon and Beyond” blog reports that Mithly has received partial funding from the European Union, but was still printed clandestinely with 200 issues distributed under the counter.

Lebanon re-launched a similar gay magazine, Bekhsoos – loosely translated as “concerning” – last September. Bekhsoos has many articles printed in English, which you can see here. Their most popular article boasts 3,892 unique visits. It’s called, “I’m Changing My Sex,” and it was published on the international day of action for sexual and bodily rights across Muslim societies, called, “One Day, One Struggle,” (November 8th).

What effect do such magazines hope to have in a region where the issue seems so hopelessly intractable? A journalist for Mithly is quoted as saying, “The sad truth is that it is quite impossible to enter into a dialogue with the Islamists about homosexuality. So the only thing we can do is to add our own voice to the debate in the hope that we will be able to change the homophobic mentality in our country, even if we realize that such a thing is quite impossible in the near future.”

We admire the brave efforts to generate a discourse around gay issues in a society where it is punishable by imprisonment to be gay. We are inspired by the hope and persistence demonstrated by the wonderful people responsible for these publications.

Post by new BLoGT contributor Bryan.

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