Feeling a Little Queer: with Homo Erectus31 October 2012
Re: Behind the Veil
Shalom and Salaam,
Having just spent the last few weeks in a steamy hot Israel and Palestine, I thought it pertinent to have a gander at the situation gay in the Middle East. We’re not limiting ourselves just to Israel and Palestine because then i couldn’t recount last night’s tryst with a very kinky green-eyed Iranian in Berlin. And I can now experimentally contradict Ahmedinejad’s ‘no gays in Iran’ statement.
My first Middle Eastern stop was Tel Aviv–Mountain of Spring. Within six hours I’d already been in and come out of a hummus coma and scored some nether relief with my first Jew. Tel Aviv is a veritable mountain; Mountain of Cock, comprised almost entirely of highly visible, proud, pastel-singlet-wearing muscle gods. On the town one night in a pump underground club, it also struck me that I was surrounded solely by circumcised men. yet another country where a foreskin is in demand. Niche market by default = SCORE!
I attended this club with my friend Saeed. Saeed and I met in Ramallah, Palestine through my brother. Saeed is half French Jew, half Palestinian Christian, born, raised and living in Tel Aviv. The pastel singlet-wearing Saeed I’d seen in Facebook photos was very different to the slightly-too-big t-shirt and jeans-wearing Saeed who arrived that first night. I began asking him about what it was like for him when he was still living in Ramallah. He shushed me quickly and told me he’d talk to me in Tel Aviv about it. He said, quietly, that it would be dangerous for more than a handful of close friends in Ramallah to know that he’s gay and didn’t want to be overheard in the restaurant. Saeed moved back to Tel Aviv when he realized he was gay, choosing to live an easier life in an open-minded country. However, liberal Israeli society has, at times, proved difficult for him. When a past Israeli Jewish lover found out Saeed is half Palestinian, he broke it off, despite Saeed being born in Israel and raised a Jew.
Saeed also told me that, despite the danger in Ramallah for being found out as a raging sodomiser, the gay scene is vibrant, if a little hushed. Every month there is a secret, underground gay party at one of the local clubs, where boys and girls can meet and find a quiet/romping place to get physical. Saeed’s first group sex experience happened after one of these parties.
Being somewhat ignorant about homosexuality in the Middle East, I was very interested in finding out first-hand about Iran. My divine sister-in-law had just spent a week couchsurfing in Istanbul with a gay Iranian coupe who had escaped Tehran and were waiting on a western country to grant them asylum, and this story piqued my interest. Not having any luck contacting them personally before deadline, I was lucky enough to come across (figuratively, then literally a little later) a stunning beautiful dark boy, Azad–perfect smile, piercing, pale green eyes (and perfectly manicured eyebrows mind) and a flamboyant personality. After exchanging our filth on Grindr I plodded on over and passed a very enjoyable time acting out a mutual fantasy. After we finished I asked him about his gay life, or lack thereof, in Iran. After talking to Saeed, I assumed he would also frequent underground gay sex parties and that, despite the old Iranian capital-punishment-for-being-homo caper, discretion would be protection. Azad scoffed, saying in a very cute accent ‘Rrramallah is much liberal than Tehran.’
He continued explaining that when in Iran he is totally celibate. His sexual outlet only happens when he travels. Luckily for him, his job involves an international jaunt every fortnight, mostly to Europe, but sometimes to the USA and the odd three-month secondment to places like Berlin. In his early thirties, he’s never had a boyfriend and is deflecting questions from his family and friends as to when he will marry. As he recounted this he told me, softly and sadly, of his desire to leave Iran and to live a normal, out life somewhere in the West. This made me feel forlorn and helpless and, if I’m honest, a little uncomfortable. There we were, lying in bed together, not all that different, yet living in totally different worlds.
We don’t know how lucky we have it.
Mit aller meiner Liebe,