Israel | Religion

Where Gay Palestine Goes To Party


When Palestinian gays want to party, they go to Tel Aviv. Today the Times of Israel published a story by Michal Shmulovich about the Palestinian Queer Party, held in an "underground Israeli nightclub":

People greeted each other in Arabic: Kif inta? Shu ’jdid? The stereo wailed, inti ‘omri! — you are my life! — as the DJ played hit after hit by Egyptian and Lebanese pop stars Amr Diab, Nancy Ajram and Sherine. No Eyal Golan or Justin Timberlake here.

And there were drag queens, dressed to the nines in high heels and short skirts, with bows in their very long, very straightened hair.

... The party is an anonymous safe haven. And that’s why it’s such a hit.

The group alQaws organizes the Palestinian Queer Party — its name for these monthly events. According to its website, alQaws works to “promote sexual and gender diversity in Palestinian society” throughout Israel and the Palestinian territories.

... Call it activism or pleasure seeking: The party celebrates both being Palestinian and being gay.

The Palestinians come from all over. From elsewhere in Israel, from the West Bank, from the Golan Heights -- from everywhere, it seems, except Gaza:

Abbud, a young Palestinian man from outside Ramallah, smiled when I asked him how he got to Tel Aviv. “Oh, we have our ways,” he said, hinting that it was not the first time he’d made the voyage. I asked him how he planned to get home at the end of the night. “Getting out is easier than getting in,” he replied.

When I asked him if he thinks people come from Gaza, he laughed and said it’s too dangerous, but added that they would probably like to. There have been rumors of over a hundred gay Palestinians from Gaza who have crossed into Israel to live, to avoid persecution for their homosexuality. However, the move remains dangerous.

The Palestinian Queer Party began a decade ago in Jerusalem, and moved to Tel Aviv "about five years ago." Most of the men who attend are closeted, including the organizer, "Tamer," who lives in Tel Aviv with his boyfriend and two gay roommates. Of the four cohabitants, only one is out to his family. Tamer's two sons from a previous marriage believe he's living with rooommates to save money.

To maintain both their personal safety and their social mobility, Tamer's two rooommates intend to marry women -- they both believe they can muster enough bisexual lust to be able to fulfill their husbandly duties. Talal, a young man Shmulovich interviewed at the Queer Party, hopes to escape the region with his partner, both to avoid anti-gay persecution and to avoid imperiling the political career of his brother, an official with the Palestinian Authority:

It would be a major blow to his brother’s high-ranking position ... if the community found out about Talal’s sexuality. And so, the young couple plan to move abroad for a while, they told me, hopefully to Europe, to try to “live in freedom.”

Lesbians, who by virtue of their sex enjoy few freedoms in Palestinian society, seldom make the journey to Tel Aviv for the Queer Party.

Shmulovich recorded a few moments of the Queer Party on what appears to be a cell phone. The footage betrays none of the cloak-and-daggerishness of the affair; it could have been shot a at any gay club in the world. Watch AFTER THE JUMP ...


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  1. Yes, it really is an interesting discussion. Just wish that once and a while (instead of never) someone would say, "you know I hadn't thought of that. I think you're right. Pardon me while I adjust myself."
    But it's all men (nearly) and men learn it from their fathers (and films) never admit you're wrong, go right over the edge holding each other by the throat.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Apr 22, 2012 3:00:12 PM

  2. Rick, you're an idiot. We're supposed to feel comforted that Palestinians are not anti-gay, according to you, but "just" anti-women and anti-femininity?

    If this article accurately reflects common Palestinian attitudes toward gays and women, then I frankly find it hard to see how their lot would be improved under a Palestinian authority. They'd be wise and lucky to immigrate to Israel.

    And I say that as someone sympathetic to Palestinians' quest for self-rule.

    Posted by: Ambrose | Apr 22, 2012 7:12:50 PM

  3. All I can say is that I wish Rick did not share a name with me.

    After reading a few of his comments, I am certain that he is a GOProud member who would prefer an anti-gay Republican to a Blue-Dog Democrat in any election, even though their policies on economics are similar.

    That said, I have to take exception to the idea the "Political Correctness" is anything at all. The idea of political correctness was and is about false politics. It was and is about spouting what people want to hear, whether or not you are agree with it. Political correctness is when you are forced or feel forced to say or do specific things that you do not believe in because of the community in which you live, or political office that you are trying to obtain. In the Republican primaries, anti-gay Conservatism is part of the politically correct speech that helps you win.

    By the way, as a radical feminist who is a man, I fully believe in everything that feminism believes in. In our society, women can be equally as capable of leading a country, running a company, leading the military, plumbing a building, running electricity and any number of other jobs that are considered men's work. Additionally, men can be equally capable of raising children, teaching pre-school, running a household, cleaning the laundry, and any other jobs that are often considered women's work. Both men and women are also equally capable of being a**holes who need to be shut out from polite society either due to breaking the law, or just being downright despicable people. All radical feminism wants is for women and men to have the same chance to succeed at the things each individual wishes to pursue, and that they should get the same remuneration for their work. A recent study was done that showed women from the same business program at a certain university start out at the same pay grade but after 10 years the women are paid 40 - 50% less than their male counterparts mostly because there are social networks they still cannot join which allow for greater advancement.

    Radical feminism is still needed, just as radical gay politics is still needed to show how deeply misogyny and homophobia are still ingrained into this society.

    Posted by: Rick B | Apr 22, 2012 8:40:53 PM

  4. Palestinian Queer Party ... is very interesting. I'll go there :)

    Posted by: Where can i find gay sex | May 29, 2012 4:57:24 PM

  5. Do any of you realize that one group or culture does not represent every other group of subculture? Your arguments fall short the moment you start generalizing and clumping everyone together. Some gay people are femine and some probably have anti-masculine sentiments. But that exist in subsets of culture everywhere. Many gay men are masculine and many anti-feminine which is just as bad. And then there are healthier subsets of gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered folks. But each group falls into each category. And that means something slightly different in different parts of the world. I think you are correct, culturally there is a problem that echoes from culture to culture. And that is a lack of respect, understanding, education, and a sense of brotherhood. We should be sharing our passion, culture, and humanity and not fighting over it.

    Posted by: Gary | Sep 30, 2012 5:02:46 AM

  6. interesting painting about gay palestinians

    Posted by: bohomazz | Nov 28, 2012 12:26:51 PM

  7. Rick's comments are grotesque. He resorts to the foulest misogyny in order to evade the unpleasant admission to himself that the oppression, persecution, use of violence against, torture, imprisonment and execution of gay men in the world, and especially in the Middle East, is overwhlemingly the doing of straight men not the women Rick so poisonously scapegoats.

    Keep telling yourself those straight guys, not those horrible women, are the ones on your side, Rick, and that they don't actually want to kill you. That fool Vito Arrogoni told himself something similar.

    Posted by: Lamia | Feb 24, 2013 1:38:45 PM

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