The arrests of 36 (35?) men in a gay porn cinema last week have sparked outrage in Lebanon (and across the world), mostly as a result of the anal probing “tests” that were done to them prior to their release.
It has also sparked fear among the gays of an upcoming crusade against them. It has also worried some people in the straight community, many of whom have called me over the last week to ask me if I was scared and suggesting that perhaps I should be careful.
Friends have asked me to remove my name from my blog, stop writing for a while, and to stop tweeting gay related material.
I haven’t done any of that and I won’t do any of that for one simple reason: I am not at risk.
We would be foolish to think this was simply about homosexuality. This is a much bigger, systematic issue that is unfortunately gaining ground. The arrests are, first and foremost, a matter of class difference, and the result of a government and a society that targets the disenfranchised, the weak, the poor, the defenseless. It is part of a system that works to take advantage of people who cannot fight back, who cannot defend themselves.
This is not a crusade against gay people. This is a crusade against marginalized people.
These arrests are part of a system that refuses to grant women the same rights as their male counterparts. They are part of a system where migrant workers commit suicide as a result of abuse. They are part of a system where public spaces are closed off to the public. They are part of a system where refugees are denied the most basic rights. They are part of a system that protects rapists, part of a system where the media ostracizes vulnerable groups, part of a system that has no respect whatsoever for sexual and reproductive rights.
This is not simply about men having sex with men and how uncomfortable it makes some people in Lebanon feel. These arrests are yet another example of the cowardly actions of people who make their money, their fame, their careers riding on the back of people who have already been weakened by the structural injustices that have taken over our country.
They’re not out to get me or people like me. We can blog, we can tweet, we can launch Facebook campaigns, we can organize marches and protests, we can scream at each other, out each other, blame each other. We can party in bars and clubs, we can use our mobile phones to pick up men, we can travel abroad and do what we want. We are safe.
If Cinema Plaza was more upscale, located in a different location, the police wouldn’t have dared touched any of the men inside. Alas, it is not upscale and it is located in Nabaa. It is a rundown movie theater that offers sexual relief to people who have to deal with countless other socio-economic issues, for people who have no other choice but to pay 5000LBP and go into a porn cinema to meet other people and have sex, a very basic human need.
We would be foolish to think this was only about homosexuality.