الأربعاء، 20 سبتمبر، 2017
10 Songs That Celebrate Bisexuality
Often times, the “B” in LGBTQ feels like the forgotten middle child. Halsey, who is openly bisexual, just scored a No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200 with her album Hopeless Fountain Kingdom which features a song titled “Strangers,” a groundbreaking duet with Lauren Jauregui of Fifth Harmony -- another out-and-proud bisexual woman. We’ve already sang their collaboration’s praises, but it got us thinking of other songs that showed some love to the underrepresented bisexual community. In honor of Pride month, here are our top ten songs about playing for both teams.
25 Songs About Gender Identity
الاثنين، 18 سبتمبر، 2017
CAIRO’S GAY COMMUNITY: A HISTORY OF POLITICAL OPPORTUNISM AND PUBLIC APATHY
Exclusive] In his Cairo Scene debut, Dale Von Kodean examines Cairo's gay community through the magnifying glass of history - starting with the Queen Boat (Cairo 52) incident all the way to the bathhouse raid in 2014.
In the late 90s, life for gay men in Cairo was drastically different than how it is today; a number of bars, restaurants, and public spaces across the city were friendly towards men who preferred the company of other men. Cairo's gay community thrived, men from all over the city were safely interacting, meeting, dating, and expressing their sexuality in relative freedom. This was, in part, due to the government's preoccupation with a long and painful insurgency against a wave of terrorism that devastated the country through the 90s. "The scene was much more alive. We met on the streets, at bars and cafes. There was a gay-party scene so active that most parties had hundreds of attendees," says Youssef*, a 37-year-old Egyptian man who leads a prominent career in the beauty industry.
As extremists halted violence towards the end of the decade - as a result of a deal struck with the government in return for more freedoms and political participation, Mubarak's regime sought to reassert its role as a protector of traditional values by carrying out a public morality campaign. This was the main drive for the famous 2001 police raid on gay-friendly night club Queen Boat in Zamalek. The incident - widely referred to as Cairo 52, which caused an international human rights outcry, led to the arrest of 52 allegedly gay men on charges of "habitual debauchery" and "obscene behaviour", with most local media outlets partaking in the character assassination of the victims by publishing their full identification details and causing irreversible damage to their lives. "I was at the Queen Boat on the night of the raid. I have seen people jumping in the Nile, others getting dragged by the hair and thrown into police vans, it was a scarring scene. Me and my friends managed to leave unharmed because of a friend's connection in the Ministry of Interior."
After the horrifying incident, which was followed by a very public and lengthy trial, the once-flourishing gay scene virtually disappeared; bars and public places stopped allowing single men in, and the Egyptian police kept a close eye on any activity they deemed 'not normal'. The Cairene gay community was forced into hiding and panic, feelings that prevailed for a long time. Around mid-decade, the internet was becoming increasingly accessible, which was a total game changer. "Our friends in the police told us to maintain a very discrete behaviour after Cairo 52, as the government was monitoring everything. We couldn't call each other or meet anywhere. The only way we would get together would be to show up at each other's places unannounced, we were forcefully thrown back in the closet. Most people who could find a way out of the country left around that time," Youssef recounts.
At the time, word on the street was to get off it, and that's what everyone did. No one was dancing in clubs or cruising in public places anymore. Instead, everyone hid behind on-screen nicknames and moved their dating lives into the safety and darkness of their own bedrooms. Thousands upon thousands of gay men were crippled with fear, but their will to live and desire for normal lives endured. "The internet changed everything. Aside from the fact that we could finally talk and meet others in relative safety, we also gained access to studies and facts about our sexuality, which enabled us, and the generation that followed, to be more at peace with ourselves and learn to stand up for our rights," says Mohamed*, 28-year-old corporate employee.
Towards the last quarter of Mubarak's 30 year iron fist rule, the government allowed minimal social and civil liberties in order to appease its critics in the west and appear democratic. The period saw a strong anti-Mubarak movement that sparked courage and hope in the hearts of the country's youth; gay and otherwise. The community began coming out of its shell again, taking over bars and clubs, but unlike the 90s, they were no longer confining themselves to certain bars or places, they dispersed across the city. "I call these the golden days, the city was full of expats and open-minded Egyptians who were out to have fun and meet others. I made most of my friends during that time. We were still cautious, but the horror stories we used to hear became a thing of the past," Mohamed says of the era.
By the end of the millennium's first decade, a younger, bolder, and more knowledgeable generation jumped in the driver's seat. This new generation hasn't lived through the trauma of Cairo 52, and was better equipped with technological savvy, exposure, and awareness to deal with the hardships which came with their innate desires. They didn't seek validation or feel ashamed of their sexuality. This fearless generation came out to their friends and families, led powerful careers, dressed as they saw fit, and would not be told how to live. The power of this new generation as a whole, coupled with the rising influence of social media, led to one of Egypt's most glorious moments; the overthrowing of Hosny Mubarak. After the revolution, an explosion of art and self-expression took Egypt by storm, with the country's homosexual population taking a leading position. "We were suddenly free; for a good year or two, we were safe from prosecution, as authorities got pretty occupied with politically stabilising the country again. We spoke up on social media, said what we really thought, and fear finally took a backseat to the myriad of hopeful emotions we were feeling at the time." Yehya*, an artist who was 18 at the time of the revolution, says with a subtle yet proud smile.
It wasn't long before the government started paying attention again, and in another attempt to fight off the Islamists as the guardians of traditional values, signs of another crackdown began surfacing after the 2013 ousting of unpopular Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. Police traps were set using gay dating apps, public places adopting a look-the-other-way attitude with their gay frequenters were either warned or shut down, and life for the community, once again, took a turn for the worse, except that things were different this time. "The gay community has always been targeted for primarily political reasons," says Yehya. "It's never about traditional values or religion. The government arrests a bunch of us when they want a strong distraction or seek to make a powerful statement."
In December 2014, Egyptian police forces stormed a local bathhouse in Downtown Cairo, and arrested everyone inside on charges of debauchery. The arrest was made after receiving a tip from TV host Mona Iraqi, who claimed the bathhouse was a den for "group perversion acts." Videos and pictures of the televised incident went insanely viral on Egyptian and international social media, sparking a fierce online campaign against the TV host. The furious campaign led to countless international condemnations, which eventually cost Iraqi a managerial position at Shnit, a Swiss-based international short film festival, and landed her on trial for defaming the men arrested at the bathhouse, who were all - in an unprecedented ruling - eventually released for lack of evidence, under tremendous social media pressure.
The social media campaign, which followed the incident, was a true testament to the power of digital activism, and signalled an attitude change on Egyptian society's part; 13 years earlier, Egyptians stood by, watched and even applauded the government for Cairo 52, this was no longer the case. "You would think such an incident could have easily scared us again, but it didn't. Instead we took to social media and expressed our anger and frustration, and to our pleasant surprise, we were joined by an army of Egyptians who were forever changed because of the revolution. We've come a long way," Yahya concludes.
Today, the community stands in a unified spirit, yet scattered and divided. Some are still primarily looking for a way out, others choose to live in safe social bubbles of like-minded individuals. While those with no such luxuries either take the risk of stepping out on the city's streets wearing their true colours, or silently remain locked away in their dark closets. Safety for the community, similarly to other prosecuted minorities in Egypt, remains subject to the political agendas of consecutive ruling regimes.
*Names have been changed to protect the interviewees' identities.
The Prime Minister of Serbia has marched in Belgrade’s Pride parade for the first time ever.
Openly lesbian PM Ana Brnabic joined hundreds of LGBT+ activists on the streets of the Serbian capital.
Parts of the city Pride route were cordoned off by riot police to prevent clashes between right-wing groups protesting the event.
Brnabic told reporters that she wanted to partake in the march to signal a move towards a more diverse Serbia.
“The government is here for all citizens and will secure the respect of rights for all citizens.
“We want to send a signal that diversity makes our society stronger, that together we can do more,” she added.
Although extremist groups gathered with protest banners no incidents were reported.
Serbia held its first Pride in 2001 but rallies were met with violence.
Since then, Pride parades have always been organised but not always carried through.
In 2010, over 100 people were injured at Pride as right-wing groups clashed with police trying to protect those marching in Pride.
Pride has been held routinely since 2014 and activists said this years event was by far one of the most relaxed in recent years
Goran Miletic, one of many LGBT+ activists at the parade, said that Brnabic partaking in the event was important but that issues surrounding equality in the country still needed to be resolved.
“Today we walk together and together we will stress that problems still exist and that we want to work together to solve them,” Miletic said.
The election of Brnabic signalled a move towards Serbia competing for membership in the European Union.
Brnabic is one of few country leaders who are openly gay or lesbian.
She is currently joined only by Ireland’s Leo Varadkar and Luxembourg’s Xavier Bettel.
Over 20 people have been arrested in Zanzibar after they were accused of engaging in “homosexual activities”.
Authorities in the region, which is semiautonomous of Tanzania, said that over twelve women and eight men were arrested following a police raid.
Hassan Ali, a regional police chief, said that officers raided a hotel in the area and arrested the group of suspects.
It is believed that they were attending a workshop.
Authorities have claimed that they suspected they were engaging in homosexual acts.
Ali confirmed this and said that police would “intensify vigilance against these groups”.
“We rounded them up because we suspect that they were engaged in homosexuality in Zanzibar, which is illegal in Zanzibar and is against the law of the country,” he said.
In Tanzania, if a man is found to be engaging in homosexuality then they could face a jail sentence of 30 years to life.
The country’s penal code states that anyone who “has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” can face prison.
Other laws are also used to punish men who have sex with men such as a gross indecency law which carries prison sentences of up to five years and fines of a maximum of 300,000 Tanzanian shillings($134).
In recent months, the country cracked down on the LGBT+ community as the Home Affairs Minister, Mwigulu Nchemba, said that activists would soon face arrest and deportation.
Nchemba announced that domestic and foreign campaigners for gay rights would face criminal repercussions and that those who wanted to campaign should leave the country.
“Those who want to campaign for gay rights should find another country that allows those things,” Nchemba said.
He went on to stress that the country would be pursuing legal action.
“If we establish that any organisation registered in our country is campaigning for gay rights, I will deregister that organisation.
“If a Tanzanian national is doing that campaign, we will arrest him and take him to court and if it is a foreigner, we will immediately order him to leave the country.”
Health Minister Hamisi Kigwangalla announced the plan as part of the same government crackdown on “the homosexuality syndicate”.
“I will publish a list of gay people selling their bodies online,” Kigwangalla wrote on Twitter. “Those who think this campaign is a joke are wrong. The government has long arms and it will arrest all those involved quietly.”
They have since backed down on the threats and insisted that they would “deal with this issue differently”.
Kigwangalla confirmed on Twitter: “For strategic reasons and to avoid destroying evidence we will deal with this issue differently and will keep you informed at every step.”
He also said that releasing the names would be akin to “freeing a devil in a bottle.”
Earlier this year the country stopped 40 privately run clinics from providing HIV-related services because they “cater to homosexuals”.
LGBT Syrian refugees ordered to leave Zara after homophobes attacked them
A group of five LGBT Syrian refugees say they were thrown out of Zara after a homophobic customer attacked them.
One member of the group, Tarek Almolki, told Dutch newspaper Het Parool that store staff in Amsterdam, Netherlands ignored the man as he began to abuse them.
Almolki says the homophobe began verbally abusing the group, but Zara employees failed to confront him on the remarks.
The alleged victim says the group was labelled “bad Muslims” and told they “deserve to die” by the man.
“He shouted ‘Allahu akbar!’ repeatedly across the store,” Almolki added.
In a terrifying turn of events, the man then took to attacked the group physically.
“The man tried to attack us several times, spat in our faces and shouted that he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and he would kill us,” Almoki said.
The man then turned on a transgender members of the group – punching her in the face and tearing her dress.
He then “screamed that she was a ‘kafir’, an infidel who ought to die.’”, according to Almolki.
The stunned and scared group say Zara staff “did nothing to protect us and laughed at us.”
Eventually security guards get involved in the situation – only to turn on the LGBT refugees.
Guards came to the area of the shop the incident had happened in, where they told the refugees they were banned for a year, and police would be alerted if they ever returned.
The trans woman who was attacked, identified only as ‘E.’ told Het Parool: “I’m 42-years-old and gay and feel very comfortable about it.
“I come from Syria and have lived for 13 years in the Gulf states, but I’ve never experienced anything as dreadful as this.”
Representatives from Zara’s parent company, Inditex, declined to comment on the incident.