Posted by: G-AZZI | November 12, 2010

Flashback

I just came back from Paris. Finally, it is summer vacation. I miss Beirut. I miss my friends. My first year in Paris was tough; it is a well-deserved vacation.
Tonight we are getting ready to go to a new “gay place” in Hamra called cheikh man’ouch. We are four guys, but the four of us cannot show up together at the door. We would be too suspiciously gay for them. We have to go in groups of two; I am here only for summer and being around gay Beirutis is fun and worth the trouble.

 

10:30 we made it. We are in; overseen by a troop of waiters making sure we are ordering enough drinks for them to tolerate our presence and making sure that we are well behaved. They know we are all gay, but they need to make sure that we act straight enough; otherwise they might ask us to leave the place. Funny enough though they banned people with piercing and long hair thinking they were stopping gay men, turned out they were stopping straight men and the place became more gay inside.

I got frustrated and I swore I would never come back to this place. My friends tried to calm me down by saying: ”this is Beirut not Paris, what do you expected, stories of police raiding gay frequented places are common.” Indeed, I had heard from my friends at “Clubfree” that gay rights were not a priority for human rights NGOs; it was not the right time.
Inside the bar, I recognize many faces of people I have met on the Internet, under fake names, of course. They pretend they have never met me. It is common practice because some people are afraid to get too friendly with other gay people in public: it is too risky.
Another gay hangout place is, strangely enough, Dunkin Donuts. It was cheap and open all night. But the administration of Dunkin Donuts has noticed recently the increasing number of gay clientele and has decided to take strict measures to prevent them from coming. Last month they put a sign saying that they refuse to serve clients who are “indecently dressed.”
Few other “gay places” exist in Beirut but they all have more or less the same policy as Cheikh Man’ouch. Some place won’t hesitate picking up from the same group of friends those who look “decent enough” to enter the club, leaving the rest of the group out.

That was summer 2000. We have come a long way since then. Of course the situation is not perfect yet. But we have achieved a lot: Helem, Meem, Bekhsous, Marsa, LGBT Media Monitor, two men or women kissing in a bar, LGBT-friendly media, young people coming out in their schools and universities… all those were impossible dreams back then, and it was only 10 years ago. It is not over yet but if we look back at how much we’ve achieved it gives us hope for the future.

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Responses

  1. Thank you for all that your doing to help the gay community.
    Nice Blog also- well written and detailed to provide a good image of gay life in Lebanon.


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