This issue addresses themes of emigration and alienation from three perspectives. We begin our issue to honor Sarah Hegazi, the hardships she faced in exile, and her legacy and her role in the queer and feminist communities in their homelands and abroad might forever live in our archive. We then pivot to consider alienation from one’s body or right to self at the hand of the State, looking both at individual cases and broader systemic issues. Finally, we turn to those who have left the country for ‘elsewhere,’ and the issues they face, sentiments feel, and networks they form to find a new sense of home.

Digital painting of Sarah Hegazi

Digital painting of Sarah Hegazi by Omar Sha3. Motion graphics and cover design by Alaa S.

Sarah Hegazi
Like many, we were shocked to receive the news of death of Sarah Hejazi, the Egyptian, Marxist, queer activist who suffered torture, was exiled form her country and loved ones, and lost her mother in Canada. We dedicate the first part of the magazine to honor her spirit. Each one of us has a digital footprint – the accumulation of our online activity that chronicles a life lived online through blogs, pictures, games, web sites, networks, shared stories and experiences — and we use this section to open the door for those who were unable to give their condolences publicly or in-person to continue to offer their insights and reflections. Please go here to do so anonymously.

Alienation in one’s own country & body
In the second part, we address feelings of alienations inside our own homelands and homes, or even from our bodies, and the feeling of unsafety that many cope with daily. We include an article written in close conversation with Maha al-Mutairi, a Kuwaiti trans woman who has been subject to ongoing policing surveillance and maltreatment, and her lawyer, Shaikha Salmeen, who has advocated unwaveringly on her behalf. We hear the effects of this most recent series of arrests in a personal dialogue.  We also met Shaima, a young homosexual Jordanian woman who is trying to escape to a new home after being cast out of her homeland, and the trials she can’t handle it any longer. 

We also document the challenges that transgender individuals in the Gulf face, and the laws that alienate and criminalize their bodies. We speak to trans women and sex workers in Beirut who are facing ever-worsening hardships since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic and the August 2020 Beirut explosion.  

Left cover: Lawyer Shaikha Salmeen and Maha al-Mutairi shot by N.T. and creative directed by Yousef Al-Taher – Kuwait. Right cover: Ali, emigrated from Syria to France, shot by Annabelle Fadat – Paris. Covers designed by Atef Daglees

Emigration from one’s own country
In the third part, we bring together LGBT refugees’ reflections on the meaning of “homeland” and what it means to them, and why they migrated away. We collaborated with photographer Annabelle Faddat on photographing gay refugees in France to document the role of the ‘alternative family’ for queers in exile, which provides support and reduces the sharpness of isolation and alienation.

We also address prominent stereotypes in conversations about homosexuality in the West, why these stereotypes are so dangerous in the East and West alike, and how to discuss this migration without entrenching these stereotypes further. We interviewed an Italian homosexual who has documented the experiences of gay Muslim and Arabic-speaking people in the West and the racism, Islamophobia, and alienation they face. He has himself been forced to migrate within Europe because of his sexuality. 

Finally, we offer a musical review of Idreesi and Muhammad Abdullah’s song, “Maraya,” which recorded during a period of COVID-related quarantine. The song was inspired by emigration and deals with the general sense of alienation felt there and perhaps also in this current moment.

This issue is edited by Eliza Marks, Khalid Abdel-Hadi, Maha Mohammad, and Musa Shadeedi

Special Thanks

Samar Zureik,Omar, Sha3, Sheikha Salmeen, Ahmed Awadalla, Oumaima Dermoumi, Aïda Khemiri, Youssef Sherif, Ismaïl, Annabelle Fadat, Yazan Mufleh, ARDHIS Association (France), Hasan Kilani, Lina A., Elias Jahshan, Tamer Tamimi, Hiba Moustafa, Shukri Lawrence, Bint Al-Sheikh, Hiba Abu Taha, Noor S., Khaled Alqahtani, Roshdi, Malak Al-Gharib, Joseph Poladoghly, Initiative Cinamji, Yousef Al-Taher, Najd Al-Taher, Xara Naber, Alaa Al-Saadi, Lara Bellone, Sam Sykes, Ryan, Sami Abdelbaki, Reem Mahmoud, Chiara Glionna, Efrem Damiani (efetishism), Aude Nasr, Atef Daglees, Majeda Abdeen, Juode T., Ibrahim F., Nawara Ali, Menna Grace.
To the chosen family members: Sofien Trabelsi, Aïda Salander, Seif Béjaoui, Slown, Ilyes Messaoudi, Chaima, Syrine.
To the expatriates who shared their stories and experiences with My.Kali: the couple Masud and Armin, Youssif Al-Masry (Arabic cover), and Ali (English cover).



Hena wa hanak
The Arab queer experience in the east-west

Queering In Exile
Being a queer in exile is living in a perennial state of liminality, existing neither fully here nor there.

Are you Muslim?
The American Dream or The American Delusion?

Home Is A Feeling
An interview with Iranian artist Maral Bolouri

Where Are You From?
Dispatches of an insufferable third-culture kid

There Is No Honor In Crime
We speak with local feminist about Jordan’s lenient laws against perpetrators of ‘honor killings’ and moving forward

Who’s Afraid Of A Boarding Pass
Queer Arab emigrant stories often omit the answer to this final question from their diaspora narratives

One Thousand and One Asylums:
Fallacies around LGBTQ+ people seeking asylum in the West

Diaspora Dysphoria
“My mother stopped speaking Arabic to me after 9/11, when I was four-years-old, for our safety”

Photo-Essay: From The Neighbourhood
“I turned the camera on my neighborhood in Cairo, where I walk daily to showcase its life and diversity.”

Maraya: Artists Muhammed Abdullah & Idreesi
Musical reflections on love and place

DJ Elshaar:
The Beirut based DJ plays to the heartbeat of her city

Band Kabreet:
New music that serves a melancholic nod to romance

Transgender Women Sex Workers In Beirut:
On The Pandemic Sex Work the Explosion

Dear Black Mama,
How can we demand acceptance if we couldn’t even accept our own skin color?

To Not Be Erased: 
Transgender Experiences From The Gulf

The Cost Of Visibility
Maha Almutairi, Shaikha Salmeen and article 198

“But I Forgive”
Sarah Hegazi and the message of forgiveness 


Please note that the material of this issue is published gradually until the end of 2020