fredag 29 oktober 2010

Pink Imperialism part 2. Pink Washing in Beirut?

I was at my favorite gay bar in Beirut last night. This bar is very frequented by tourists. The music was pumping, the Halloween decoration was hanging down from the ceiling. I sat with my friend who is the owner of the bar and drank my favorite late night drink, Arraq.
All of a sudden a big and noisy man with maybe a little bit too much to drink entered the bar. He was happy and loud and wanted Arraq like me. He kept on asking if me and my friend were a couple so we started to play along. He wanted us to kiss and touch each other in front of him, and asked if all of us could have a three some. I got amused by his way of consuming me and my friend as an object for his desire, so I started to talk about Beirut and sex. The man was a chancellor from The Australian Embassy of Cairo and was at a visit in Beirut to let off some steam.
He praised Lebanon for being so more Liberal then Egypt, when it came to sex and bragged about how he went down to the Corniche of Beirut and had sex with five Syrian workers. Here in Lebanon the term “Syrian worker” means a poor man from Syria with no legal papers that is doing all the shit job for the Lebanese people. In Cairo the poor people that he had sex with had to be bought in a much discreet manner.
-It’s somehow through these gay men on the embassies that we have start to have a little liberation to be able to open bar and clubs that is oriented towards the gay crowd. My friend said.
Now, when the rainbow flag is the new black for the neo-liberals, what does gay liberation means in a neo-liberal world with demands for open markets? Now when gay is THE measuring tool for the west, to stamp a country in the global south “western approved”, what is the demands?
Israel is getting the trend and is now promoting itself as “the only safe place for gay people in the Middle East”. With this approved stamp from the west, Israel is pink washing the not only the crimes and the occupation towards the Palestinian but hides the fact that Israel is a very religious, homophobic and patriarchal society. Benjamin Peim wrote an article in The Jerusalem Post, that the hunt for the pink dollars has positioned Beirut and Tel-Aviv in a battle of becoming THE hotspot for gays in the Middle East.
If this is accurate, what happens to the people actually living here when the white man once again is demanding an open market and to have access to this region? What happens when gay life becomes a gated society for a white man to indulge himself with sex from the hot, horny and desperate Arabs? Is liberation meant for the poor Syrian worker or the Palestinian refugee kid that is working extra to let white men, on holiday, blowing their cocks at the corniche?
I’m willing to get rid of all symbols, if a rainbow flag is going from being a symbol for protection to be a symbol for a state to hide it´s crimes done to its population.

onsdag 27 oktober 2010

Amrad and I part 2

I discussed beauty and masculinity/androgyny with a friend. The reason was that I have been to some friends in Dahi, and many of them have these portraits that almost look like homage to Hussein, Ali’s son the cousin of the prophet Muhammed. They are all brushed with colors to highlight eyebrows and lashes and the cheeks are made rosy. I kept on thinking of the Amrad, being an object of beauty, but here the beard don’t seem to be a problem to portray a man as an object.

I fell over these pictures of talibans, that have the same postproduction like the pictures that I’ve seen in Dahi. I think they look absolutely amazing. Don’t you?

fredag 22 oktober 2010

Amrad and I, or “we all share fascination over the androgynous” part 1

I’m writing an article about Chaza Cherafeddines exhibition “Divine Comedy”, that was exposed September 23rd through October 13th at the Agial Art Gallery in Beirut. The project deals with our “understanding of beauty” and look at the changes in the Islamic art from the 16th and the 18th centuries to the early 20th century . What you can see is a change, in beauty, from a more androgynies state of mind to a more fixed binary system of gender.
Chaza Cherafeddine and I have both read the book “Women With Mustaches and Men Without Beard”, by Afsaneh Najmabadi, that deals with art from the Qajar Iran (1785-1925). So we both had a lot to talk about. One part of the book deals with the changes in the perception of gender by comparing portraits of “amorous couple”, from having almost identical features in the early days to become a more binary fixed perception of gender towards the 20th century. In the early portraits the young couple where both an object of beauty and desire for the male painter, to change to be an exclusive female feature in the later images. Towards the 20th century the woman’s breast became bare to exaggerate her sexuality and the man had a beard and became a man. It seems to Najmabadi that when the modernist project came along during the 19th under pressure of the western power, the more binary and fixed became the gender.
The beardless young man pictured in these paintings are called Amrad or Ghulam, they where the object of beauty, purity and innocence. West has sometimes described this “culture” to be of pedophilia but it was more a matter of admiration then of sexuality. What west seems to forget is its own obsession of androgynous youth in arts and literature from Leonardo Davinci to Thomas Mann .

But with west’s schooling project of the Middle East, the Amrad had to go. It feels like the modernism with its urge to clean up the world there was no time for in betweens: Efficiency please! So the man had to be more a man and the women had to be more a women. But through my research the Amrad or the Ghulam never really disappeared he has been hiding to have a comeback every now and then. It has been adopted by writers and movie directors both in the east and the west, and fiercely loved by the fashion industry in the end of the 20th century. My girlfriend that is fashionista complained in the nineties that “Why do all women have to look like boys on the catwalk, I’m getting to old for this!”
I fell over these pictures when I was browsing the internet. The painting is an old painting from the Qajar Dynasty and the photo is from the Jordanese born Canadian designer Rad Hourani’s latest collection. Well two different versions of an “amorous couple”.

onsdag 20 oktober 2010

Leka@eka3 Athens Workshop KAZAMADA

A video of Kazamada from the workshop in Athens

Kazamada last night in Beirut at Wallimat Warde in Hamra

The super group Kazamada that collects four corners of the Middle East and creates a unique sound that is hard to explain. Twinkie electronica together with steady cardboard box beats trashed with rocky guitars and that soothes out with a caressing oud. The members; Donia Massoud (Egypt), Mahmoud Radaideh (Jordan), Zeid Hamdan (Lebanon), and Tamer Abu Ghazaleh (Palestine) launched the band in Athens the 8th of October and have paved their way through the Middle East this is the last night in Beirut so catch them while you can.
For more info go to Kazamada/eka3

fredag 15 oktober 2010

Me and Mahmoud ”I need a job” part 2

The Iranian party is over. All is cool. Bilateral relationships between Lebanon and Iran is stated and we all can breathe now, and go from Iranian long cocking back to Lebanese fast food .
The drama last time about the Azzam Brigade threat of the earth to quake and my stress of not being able to listen to Dolly Parton at The SpeakEasy in Hamra got settled in a cool way. The earth didn’t quake but I wasn’t able to listen to Dolly P because the DJ didn’t want to put Cunt back into Cuntry and only played Garth Brooks (but that’s ok).
Well today is Friday and I’m back at The SpeakEasy as DJ Richard, from the DJ trio Chicago Berlin Express, is spinning the coolest cool. That man is making Fridays his Rich-ual.
Well you know where to find me, yallah come!!!!

For more info go to

tisdag 12 oktober 2010

Me and Mahmoud ”I need a job”

Tomorrow is the day when President “I need a job” is coming to town. I can’t pronounce his last name so I change it; I’m a student in Arabic it’s complicated as it is.
Will there be a war? Will Israel be so provoked so the bombs will fall over southern Lebanon again? Or will it be THE war that’s going to show us who’s in charge? I don’t know? Right now I don’t care. Tomorrow is another day. What I learned through living in a society like Lebanon is we don’t have time to worry about tomorrow. There will always be a risk for a war. Lebanon’s position as an intermediary roll or as the traditional saying goes “Lebanon’s strength lies in its weakness” puts this country always at risk.
Tomorrow is Wednesday and it’s Country and Western night at Speak Easy in Hamra. There is where I will celebrate Mr. President’s arrival. And while the bombs fall I hope that I have time to listen to at least one or two songs by Dolly Parton
Peace A. of Arabia and “I need a job”

Picture from LA Times

lördag 9 oktober 2010

Get ure freak on Hamra is sizzeling again

The bar Speak Easy in Hamra really collects the coolest cool in Beirut. Wednesdays are country nights, and when I say country I mean real read neck country. The hipsters that are playing really puts Cunt back into Cuntry. Fridays are dedicated to Sir Mix a Lot: Beirut Chicago Express. The blend is the best of bouncy electro, ghetto tech, old school house and Michael Jackson. Get your ass down

onsdag 6 oktober 2010

Beirut and my intersectsexual behavior

I have spent a month now in Beirut. When I lived in Damascus, Beirut was the place to spend some decadent five days or so when the need for some western action got too much of a stronghold over me. Five days of decadence then back to Damascus and to law and order (at least on the surface). But now I live here and it opens up a whole different city. I find myself in between the intersectarian/”we don’t give a shit about what your belief is” in Hamra, central Beirut, to Dahya (the southern suburb of Beirut) with Hizbollah martyrs on the wall
I got my ticket to Dahya, or Dahi as people say here, through a one night stand with a man that I met in the city a while ago. A widower that lived in Dahi with his two sons, I didn’t found out the latter part until the morning after when I was acting like a good old friend for breakfast.
But I keep coming back to Dahi, not so much because of the sex but the stories I get told. Stories about gay life “on the side”, the 2006 July war and yeas, Hezbollah get its fair share on the balcony. I try to map what I hear with a little help from the book “History of Modern Palestine” by Fawwas Traboulsi. It’s not fucking easy but I like non easy things.

More stories to come