As queer people, we have long endured hatred, violence and marginalization throughout the world. In previous issues of My Kali, we have discussed many of the typical culprits responsible for this oppression within the MENA region: deeply rooted patriarchal views on gender and sexuality, religious bigotry, and politics that incite fear against LGBTQ people, to name a few.
These challenges will continue to exist in the foreseeable future, and we should continue to confront them. But we often ignore problems that happen within our own communities, opting instead to sweep them under the rug. This issue is an invitation to you- our readers- to join us in an open discussion about a number of internal problems we face within queer communities. By holding a candle to these challenges, we hope to develop better ways of confronting them in the future.
In this issue, we present the idea of a ‘hierarchy of privileges’ within the queer community, and the marginalization that results from it. Adopting a feminist lens, we examine how patriarchal ideas have infiltrated the queer community, sometimes in obvious ways, and sometimes subliminally, recycling familiar and modernized forms of prejudice. We also talk about the culture of “badr”, a secret language within the Egyptian queer community, by defining and documenting it, and trying to find answers to its unresolved questions: is it a means of safety, resistance, or is it just another form of bullying?
In this issue, we also talk about queer individuals who are stranded in the diaspora and the differences that have arisen between them and those they left behind in their home countries. In addition to the voices of the diaspora, we also hear from activists across the region about their take on situations where their cultures clash with the causes they fight for.
We also sat down with Lebanese stage director, Amahl Khouri, who talks us through her play, “She He Me.” Khouri tells the stories of three Middle Eastern characters whose lives defy conventional gender norms, and the conflicts that arise within themselves and with their societies as a result. Finally, we interview rising Kuwaiti non-binary model, and the featured artist of this issue’s cover, Safi Ali, in a dialogue that takes us to a place between the aches of gender identity and the ecstasy of the catwalk.
This issue is our attempt to self-criticize while continuing to critique the societies to which we belong, to spark more conversations about our internal crises, and eventually, the means to move past them. This issue’s main content will be published throughout the coming week/s.
Conducted by Maha Mohamed and Khalid Abdel-Hadi
Translated by Maya Anwar
Edited by Salman Husain.
This issue’s main contents:
Cover Story: Safi Ali
The Kuwaiti trans-model tells how she triumphed against all odds
“Can we identify with MENA queers and their actual struggles?”
She He Me
The play that’s highlighting LGBT+ activism in the region
Photographed Najed Al Taher
Art direction & Styling: Yousef Al Taher
Cover character: Safi Ali (Lady Safii)
Cover Design by Atef Daglees