Since the 30th of October, 2018, after we have canceled our speed-dating event, we found ourselves in the middle of an organizational predicament. While we have received tremendous solidarity from supportive individuals and communities, we also encountered attempts to push the conversation into a direction we disapprove of, be it the misrepresentation of the reasons behind the cancellation for media hits, the intensification of Islamophobic and victimizing discourses, or the opening of “debates” around queer people’s existence and well-being.
Therefore, we would like to clarify and respond to frequently asked questions, in hopes to make this conversation constructive against the complicit needs of tabloids, organizations, and institutions that have skewed it to their own benefit.
We denounce the purposeful misrepresentation of the reasons behind the cancellation of the event. Media reports have portrayed it as an act of surrender under pressure from the general security forces, religious authorities, Muslim scholars, and other external factors, when in reality we were not pressured into cancelling the event. Our decision came in order to ensure the safety of the participants, organizers, and hosts, something that we have always held at utmost priority. Nevertheless, media outlets have repeatedly changed GSC’s statement to make it fit their own discourse and to bring in more viewers with an imposed dramatic appeal. The GSC was either demonized as a “sex club” holding “homosexual sex parties” and a “sex festival,” or victimized as a recipient of legal and religious violence. Ironically, we did not suffocate under religious authoritarian constraints as the media tends to portray; rather, it is those same media outlets who have been constantly harassing us in hopes of coercing our presence, infringing upon our privacy, and inviting us to our own conversation. All of this was paralleled by institutions and NGOs opportunistic release of their own statements prior to our own, as well as their contribution to orientalist news articles with purposefully misinformed quotations. The issue is not only one of representation, but about the discourse that’s coming out of these media outlets championed by the aforementioned organizations. Such discourse goes against the GSC premise of organizing for two reasons:
First, the GSC has indeed faced criticism on a religious basis on multiple occasions. We have stated, both today and in the past, that we do not consider this to be a matter of a cultural clash, but of material conditions sustaining such discourse. Therefore, we would like to address the root cause of these conditions, rather than maintain a false-binary and mutual exclusion between queer and religious communities. Instead of mobilizing in an attack on individuals or on culture, let this be an opportunity to challenge to the overbearing authoritarian confessional rule that polices bodies, sexualities, genders, performances, and rights.
Second, attempting to engage us in sensational debates, or opening an ‘equal floor’ to represent voices that are for and against the event, its cancellation, or the GSC itself, portrays these voices as equally valid, placing queer peoples’ rights to exist, move freely, have bodily autonomy and integrity on equal footing with homophobic hate speech meant to degrade, immoralize, and demonize queerness.
The most recent of such attempts came from the closest of places: This past week, Outlook, a student-run university-sponsored newspaper, released multiple homophobic articles claiming a pathogenic/genetic nature of homosexuality, calling for its medical/psychological treatment, simultaneously placing queer people in opposition to religious communities. We have engaged in talks with the editorial board of Outlook and the AUB administration in order to put end to the blatant hate speech incited by the articles, yet we were only met with responses legitimizing the articles as free speech. While we were first engaged with a long bureaucratic process in hopes of resolving the issue, neither parties provided an apology or guarantees for the end of such unethical journalism. In light of that and of other instances of Outlook’s current staff’s complicity with oppressive discourses, we call for the complete replacement/resignation of the Outlook editorial board who are in direct violation of AUB bylaws, and for a public apology and support statement in favor of the queer community from the university administration and the current editorial board.
Despite all of the above, the club continues its activities in good spirit and wholeheartedly. The event may have been cancelled but the discussion can continue on our terms. It shall no longer be commodified according to capitalist interests of institutions, sensationalized according to scandalous buzz-seeking media, and fed into a discourse of hatred and mutual exclusivity of religious and queer communities.
We call upon the readers of this text to respect our privacy, our vision, and our community organizing efforts. We ask you to stand by our side in solidarity, to attend our events, to share our statements, and to deny the use of your platforms to opportunists. We also ask you to join us in our endeavor to replace Outlook’s editorial board. Our aim is not to race for visibility, it is to work together and in unison to achieve our communal goals of gender justice.