Chapter 6: Dare to Be Different

“At first glance, Hisham is a model of middle-class propriety – married for fifteen years, with a couple of kids… But he also has sex with men, long-term relationships lasting months or years. To Hisham, “gay” implies a full-time occupation, with sex at the center of things, whereas he sees his relations with other men as “a small corner of our lives, something we can go to or not go to, but it is not obsessing.” Terms like “gay” or “bisexual” simply do not resonate with him. It’s not that Hisham doesn’t understand, it’s just that such labels don’t apply. Yes, he leads a double life, but he finds that perfectly normal, no matter which sex you bed; for him, these are useful compartments, not unwanted closets.”

“Dare to be Different” explores what it’s like to cross the heterosexual line in Egypt and across the Arab region. This chapter looks back at the history of same-sex relations and transsexuality, examines Islamic teachings, goes to the movies, surfs the web and talks to men and women—activists, psychiatrists, imams among them—about what they’re doing to change the situation, for themselves and their societies.

Homespun wisdom (n1)

Violence against LGBT (n9)

Sexual attitudes and behaviours

“Pinkwashing” (n16)

Same-sex relations on-screen

Sex change

Sally and the shaykhs (n65)