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Meanwhile, anti-imperialist critics like Joseph Massad argued that it wasn’t the same-sex sexual practices the Egyptian government was attacking, but rather “the socio-political identification of these practices with the Western identity of gayness.” After all, he said, the men did not identify as ‘gay’. “These are hardly manifestations of gay pride or gay liberation,” he argued.
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Images and stories of oppressed Afghan women drove the call to war in 2001, and the more recent footage of ISIS throwing gay men off towers and enslaving Yezidi women stoked the fires of intervention in Syria.
Queer Arabs face a dual struggle: we are battling oppressive forces within our own communities, and we are also resisting the global narrative that tries to use our “oppression” for broader military or political goals.
Trying to write about a singular gay Arab experience would be, as one Lebanese gay rights activist put it, the equivalent of “writing a story about gay life in the US, and just interviewing someone from the Westboro Baptist Church, a closeted teenager in Nebraska, and Adam Lambert.”Despite this, queer Arab bodies have become a battleground in a much larger war.