Here’s another post about important Lebanese LGBT milestones, featuring a piece by the amazing Nadz.
On September 7, 2009, Bekhsoos relaunched their blog. For the first time, you had a collective of queer people in Lebanon that would regularly post about issues related to them.
Bekhsoos is a key milestone in the LGBT movement in Lebanon for many reasons.
– It was launched by Meem, which in itself was a historical group that brought together queer women and transgender men and women through an impressive community outreach approach.
– Bekhsoos is the very first blog that highlights the voices of groups that had been completely ignored by society and NGOs, including Helem. Those groups are: Lesbians, bisexual women, transgender men and women, and queer women.
– It is the first collaborative queer effort that has lasted in Lebanon, addressing a variety of issues and earning a regular and impressive readership.
From the very first post, I knew this would be different from the other attempts. Below I have posted the great launching article, written by Nadz, who in my opinion is Lebanon’s most important activist. It is particularly interesting because it calls for a shake-up to the approach to gay issues in Lebanon. I have highlighted the two paragraphs that I found most important.
The Evolution of Us
This is the new Bekhsoos. We’re back after almost a whole year of no publishing (the last issue we put out was in December 2008). So what’s different? For one thing, we’ve decided to publish weekly. Yes, that’s a huge commitment, which is why we’ve added the little “beta” yellow icon next to our logo. We’re testing this new idea. We’re putting ourselves to the challenge of publishing at least 5-6 articles weekly because we want to be on top of information technology today.
Bekhsoos.com started out as a replacement for a “real” print magazine. We knew we probably couldn’t manage printing a magazine because we’d need lots of money to purchase a publishing license, do the printing, and it wouldn’t fit too well with Meem’s underground nature. At the time (exactly 2 years ago), Bekhsoos online was a replacement. Today, and with the way information sharing has evolved, it is clear to me that Bekhsoos actually belongs online. That’s where young LGBTs in Lebanon are looking for information, connections, and support. So it’s up to us to provide the information quickly, accurately, and consistently. Thus was born the idea of a weekly Bekhsoos on a wordpress platform, as opposed to previous attempts at simple php and drupal.
We’ve also upped our standards in terms of content. Our editorial team will be assigning topics, planning investigative reports, and looking for research projects to publish. We’ll put up important breaking news as it happens. We’ll announce our updates on twitter (follow us on @meemblog) and Facebook. We’ll engage with commentary and encourage strong, argumentative debates. We will still ignore stupidity and not tolerate homophobic or sexist remarks.
The age of “wow, gay groups in Lebanon, that alone is impressive” is over. It’s not impressive anymore. Now is the time for us to become engaged with our own societies, to think analytically, to advance politically, to understand the truth about oppression, to create, to research, to be proactive, to write, to write, to write!
The LGBT community has always had a strong online presence – way before people were calling it “ICT 4 social change” and “social networking.” That’s because we had no other choice. So we built websites and chatrooms on mIRC. Then we became bloggers. Then we came out on MySpace and started groups and causes on Facebook. Then we started a YouTube channel. Now, we’re tweeting. And guess what? The world is now moving into our side of the playground. And when media moves online, they’re coming to where we are strong and numerous and unafraid. They’re coming to where the younger generations are. And no, of course, this side is not the best because it leaves out the older generations, it leaves out the people who can’t afford internet or computers, it leaves out my mother. But they are on the course to getting there. It’s getting more affordable, more Arabicized, and more widespread. The Middle East is adding 500,000 internet users a month. That’s 6 million a year. If the queer community is everywhere online, then the internet users are bound to bump into us somewhere. They’re bound to listen to what we have to say.
Ahla ou sahla fee mawaqi3na, fellow Arab internet users. We’re here, we’re queer, we’re online. And we’re publishing weekly.
The article was originally published here.