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Morocco's First Out Gay Writer Abdellah Taïa Speaks Out

Taia

In 2009, Abdellah Taïa wrote to his family two years after he became the first Moroccan writer to come out as gay in an interview with the Moroccan magazine Telquel. As the journal Asymptote notes, "Morocco's biggest-selling newspaper denounced him, and many of the country's bloggers decried him, saying he should be stoned."

Wrote Taïa in 'Homosexuality Explained to My Mother':

I know I am scandalous. To you. And to those around you: neighbors, colleagues, friends, mothers-in-law... I know to what degree I'm involuntarily causing you harm, giving you worry. I expose myself by signing my real first name and my real last name. And I expose you along with me. I drag you along on this adventure, which is just the beginning for me and for people like me: To exist, finally! To come out of the shadows, head held high! To tell the truth, my truth! To be: Abdellah. To be: Taïa. To be both. Alone. Yet not alone at the same time.

Beyond my homosexuality, which I proudly claim, I know that what surprises and scares you is that I elude you: I am the same, thin as I've always been, with the same eternal baby face; yet I am no longer the same. You no longer recognize me, and you tell yourselves: "Where does he get those bizarre ideas? Where does he get the nerve? We didn't raise him like that... And not only does he talk about sexuality publicly—no, no, that's not enough for him—he also talks of homosexuality, politics, freedom... Who does he take himself for?"

Taïa's 2009 essay excerpted above has been published in English translation for the first time HERE by Asymptote, which also has an interview with him HERE.

(photo jeremy stigter / asymptote)


Gay Cruisers Either Are Or Are Not Welcome In Casablanca

NA1(1)Passengers onboard the MS Nieuw Amsterdam for an all-gay Mediterranean cruise will not be making their scheduled stop today in Casablanca. Why's that? Because, according to trip organizers RSVP Vacations and cruise company Holland America, "local authorities" in Casablanca have revoked the ship's permission to dock, presumably because she's full of gays.

The Moroccan tourist ministry denies everything. From Reuters:

Morocco's Tourism Minister Lahcen Haddad said no official decision had been made to prevent the ship from stopping in Morocco.

"We don't ban cruise ships here and we never ask our visitors about their sexual preferences," he told Reuters. Asked if the MS Nieuw Amsterdam could still visit Morocco, he said: "They can if the organisers want to".

While the tourism ministry may be unruffled by the private sexual lives of day-tripping cruisers, Reuters notes that the same cannot be said of the Moroccan media. Apparently, several news outlets last week reported nervously on the imminent arrival of the MS Nieuw Amsterdam and her fabulous human cargo, and it seems conceivable that cruise organizers may have become worried about their passengers' safety. (In Morocco, homosexuality is punishable by up to three years in prison.) 

The MS Nieuw Amsterdam set out on Friday from Barcelona. On her week-long gay cruise, Casablanca was to be her only non-European port of call.  


'A Boy To Be Sacrificed'

ABDELLAH-TAÏAIt's unusual and wonderful for the words of the writer Abdellah Taia to show up in an English-language publication, as they did in this morning's New York Times. It's also a little nervous-making. To read Taia is, very often, to be heartbroken.

That's the case today. In "A Boy To Be Sacrificed," Taia describes the experience of growing up in early-80s Morocco, captive to an unwitting effeminacy -- "something in the way I moved my hands, my inflections. A way of walking, my carriage. An easy intimacy with women, my mother and my many sisters" -- which set him apart from his community, and made him an outcast even as a child:

By the time I was 10, though no one spoke of it, I knew what happened to boys like me in our impoverished society; they were designated victims, to be used, with everyone’s blessing, as easy sexual objects by frustrated men. And I knew that no one would save me — not even my parents, who surely loved me. For them too, I was shame, filth.

Taia proceeds to describe the night the frightened child he was gave way to the rather Cynical (though seldom "cynical") man he became -- a night when a group of drunk men gathered outside his home, rather like the Sodomites of Genesis, and demanded that Taia be released to them for their pleasure. He was 12 or 13 years old at the time:

I was far, then ... from understanding that the problem wasn’t me. I was simply afraid. Very afraid. And I hoped my big brother, my hero, would rise and answer them. That he would protect me, at least with words. I didn’t want him to fight them — no. All I wanted him to say were these few little words: “Go away! Leave my little brother alone.”

But my brother, the absolute monarch of our family, did nothing.

Taia ultimately made it to Sweden, and then to France, where he studied at the Sorbonne. He lives in France still.


Texting While Muslim

Picture 16Those who toil in competetive industries often discuss their work using hyperbolic language. (Recall Mitt Romney's recent promise to bloody the nose of President Obama, and Newt Gingrich's subsequent promise to not just bloody the First Schnoz, but to knock the President unconscious.)

Well -- if you're a Muslim, hold your tongue. According to the AFP, a Muslim businessman in Canada was recently arrested and briefly imprisoned after authorities intercepted a text message in which he told his sales staff to "blow away" the competition at a New York trade show.

From the AFP:

Moroccan-born Saad Allami, who works as a telecommunications company sales manager, was arrested three days after he sent the message in January 2011 and detained while police searched his home, said the Muslim Council of Montreal.

"The whole time, the officers kept repeating to the plaintiff's wife that her husband was a terrorist," said court filings in a lawsuit filed by Allami, cited by local media. Allami was released after four hours of questioning.

Mr. Allami's colleagues were reportedly detained at the border en route to New York.

Mr. Allami's not taking this treatment lying down. He's not seeking over $100,000 in damages from the Quebec provincial police. His day in the Quebec Superior Court arrives in early March.


News: Lard, David Cicilline, Sunscreen, Malta, Evan Lysacek

Road  Lost creators explain how they did it, what's going on.

Herndon RoadA sad day for lard.

RoadWhat Evan Lysacek wants in a girlfriend.

RoadRoad to Nowhere: David Byrne sues Charlie Crist for $1 million for using song in campaign attack ad.

RoadUK asylum system deeply flawed as seekers of safety are sent back to be tortured: “They acknowledge that they receive no guidance on interviewing gay applicants from countries such as Uganda, Jamaica and Malawi and that determinations are often made on the basis of out of date or inadequate information about an asylum seeker’s country of origin."

RoadGay magazine Mithly goes live online in Morocco.

RoadFOX News edits out applause in Obama West Point commencement speech.

RoadXtina cancels summer tour.

RoadBlog written by closeted young gay hockey player revealed to be written by 40-year-old man: "Mikey, the teenage hockey blogger from Minnesota, seems beyond a reasonable doubt a late-fortysomething man from a Minneapolis suburb who likes travel, food, was married and has sex profiles on two gay hookup sites. His deceit was discovered when he fell in love with Jimmy, a contributor to his blog, and his story started to unravel."

Mullet_weir  RoadJohnny Weir discusses his glamorous pink mullet, which he says was inspired by Sex and the City 2: "“The book is pink, the game is pink, I’ve [even] got [pink] make-up on myself...It’s just for [the premiere]. I’ll change it next week. I’m going baby blue — you heard it here first! I think of myself as a Carrie but everyone thinks they’re a Carrie. I have a lot of Charlotte in me, I’m very uptight in many ways, and I’ve got some Samantha in me too though."

RoadFederal judge in Maine rules against National Organization for Marriage, says NOM should turn over donor information.

RoadLance Bass lunches with his boy posse.

RoadMalta given poor ranking on gay rights.

RoadDavid Blankenhorn of the Institute for American Values denies that any of his anti-gay testimony in support of Proposition 8 had anything to do with George Rekers: "I recently learned that a separate, lawyer-generated document submitted to the court apparently does list an article by Mr. Rekers in connection with my testimony, but that document, on this point, is in error. This matter is particularly important to me, since in my report to the court, as well as in my testimony on the stand, I clearly and emphatically rejected the anti-gay views that Mr. Rekers has apparently expressed."

Marine RoadMarine Walker Burttschell makes 200 mile trek in personal quest against "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". "When I let them know that I was on my way to Washington, D.C. (by foot), their mouths would drop and the first thing they would ask is 'why the hell don’t you drive?' I informed them I was doing this to bring attention to the current 'Don’t Ask Don’t Tell' policy and to ask Senator Webb, one Marine to another, to support repeal."

RoadPaul Lynde does the weather.

RoadDoes sunscreen cause more cancer than it prevents?

RoadDavid Cicilline called frontrunner in Rhode Island Congressional race.

RoadToronto queer icon Will Munro dies of brain cancer: "He was an artist, a DJ, a promoter, a bar owner, an activist and youth worker, but his impact on the city is much bigger than the sum of those parts."

RoadWatch: Dustin Lance Black speaks at Madame Tussaud's on Harvey Milk Day.

RoadChinese lesbian attempts suicide to escape husband: "Homosexual activists are citing a lesbian's failed suicide attempt in Anhui Province as a tragic example of the emotional pain suffered by lesbians when they are forced to marry men. For months, Qinqin (not her real name) had considered telling her husband that she was in love with another woman. But her parents had arranged Qinqin's marriage, and she could not bear to tell them the truth. Instead, she tried to kill herself by swallowing pesticides on May 14 in Hanshan county, Anhui Province."


Documentary Exposes Mormon Financial Contributions to Prop 8

Mormon

8: The Mormon Proposition is a new documentary about the involvement of the Church of Latter Day Saints' involvement in the passage of Proposition 8 in California. It's written, and directed by Reed Cowan, produced by Cowan, Chris Volz, and Steven Greenstreet, executive produced by Bruce Bastian, and narrated by Dustin Lance Black.

The trailer dropped yesterday. Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Documentary Exposes Mormon Financial Contributions to Prop 8" »


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