In this issue, we strive to imagine a future that is better than today’s, one that is beyond patriarchy and traditional family structures, beyond space, beyond the internet, and beyond COVID. As we mourn the losses we have all endured this past year, we look toward a future that is …

We interviewed Syrian-Swedish conceptual artist Jwan Yosef in his home in LA, where he reflected on his Arabic identity, his art, how creativity and art affect our everyday life, and what art might look like post-COVID. Yosef shared his hope that we will stay connected and positive: “Though these times are still uncertain, I am maintaining hope and optimism for the future. I’m excited about what will come and also how we will relate to art and objects differently in the future.“

I’m excited as to what’s to come and also how we in the future will relate to art and objects differently in general.

Jwan Yosef

Photographed by Jiyan Zandi
Photo Assistant: Salma Soliman
Styled by @hushi5
Cover design by @atefd
Outfit @trashyclothing x @hushi5

We also feature Moroccan-Canadian singer Mehdi Bahmad, who spoke about the power of music and his view of a future that is freer and more queer. “I dream of a world that wouldn’t be so fragmented, where ‘community’ would refer to the human race as a whole. In this world, I wouldn’t have to answer so many interrogating questions about my queerness, because I’m so much more than that.”  

Building on these interviews, this issue will ask what a “queer future” might look like …

Most immediately, what will a “post-COVID” future look like? How has the pandemic redefined how we experience love or the potential to date? How has it forced us to reimagine, reclaim, and reshape traditional conceptions of public space? Has it pushed us toward anonymity and uncertainty, and has it left our collective future as something just hanging in some balance? 

We then turn to our theme of “beyond patriarchy.” Who will determine or have a say in our uncertain future? How is fear circulating at this current moment, and how have governments and people in power leveraged it to make us submit to its force? How has it pushed people to comply with heteronormative standards, and how can people resist the threat that “we will die alone” if we do not comply? And on the other side, what is the future of social movements and queer activism in cases when “the pen” and peaceful resistance do not seem to be enough? 

What is the future of Queer internet-mediated worlds? Will the internet become an intimate space that is truely inclusive?

Nelly Makdessi – Chouf El Ein, 2001

What is the future of internet-mediated worlds? Will the internet become an intimate space that is truely inclusive, which can incorporate the affordances of “real” public spaces from which queer people and women are so often marginalized? Will it become a space where we can more actively form social bonds and promote equitable civic engagement there? If so, might these effects ripple into “the real world”?

“I feel privileged and heartbroken at the same time. But most importantly, I feel hopeful and confident that it will change in a not-so-distant future. Things have already begun to change.”

Mehdi Bahmad

Cover design by @atefd

Finally, how can thinking about drag performance help us reconsider movement not only between sex and gender, but also between digital spaces, times, and histories? How did drag develop its art and form over time, and how has technology supported and influenced its development? What will the role of digital drag performance be in the future? And, what does the idea of reclamation so present in drag (imitating the past in the present and future) suggest about what we might reclaim for our future?

Our work as editors, artists, and activists is to stay in touch with the issues that our followers confront in the MENA region and its diasporas. While we are excited about the new and what is to come, we must always appreciate the strides we have made in the past. In short, we hope that our efforts then and now will lead to a future that is more feminist, more queer, more connected, and more just. Hopefully tomorrow.

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

We will start publishing content of this issue starting February 16th, 2021