To Be Gay In Gaza Right Now

 

 

 

 

His name, Malak, means Angel in Arabic. Of course, that’s not his real name. And we can’t publish his picture. Putting either or both on the Internet would get him killed. He is that rare, but increasingly aware, phenomenon in Muslim-dominated Palestine: A Gay man.  And this is an exclusive first interview with a Gay Palestinian person caught in the deadly conflict that erupted 19 days ago when Israel retaliated for Hamas rocket attacks. Our correspondence with Malak, which began during the second week of the current Israeli Gaza incursion, was tinged with the urgency and the forced calm of a young man facing uncertainty on so many fronts but wanting to get the word out abut what it’s really like to be Gay and a target of scorn from within and without his country.
 
“Yes,” he said, in answer to a question, “I am “under the radar” as far as being Gay, or else I would be killed. It’s extremely hard to find even a Bisexual person in Gaza. It’s like looking for an oasis in Antarctica.I knew a lesbian couple but they left Gaza two years ago. Since then I lost contact with them.” He already knows that two of his male Gay friends have been killed in Gaza, as well as fourteen more family friends and acquaintances. He is very upset. He is worried. He does try to mask his concerns with humor, but the gravity of the situation in Gaza City has become so dire, the deep fears and frustrations show in his letters.
 
Malak does have a boyfriend, and they live right in the center of Gaza City. Their days and nights are filled with the sounds of exploding bombs, the crys of wounded people and the wailing of the bereaved who have lost loved ones in this conflict. Although Malak has Gay Israeli friends, he says, “I keep them discreet and hidden as people won’t understand that they are pure friends, or maybe lovers; they will say that I’m a traitor. I hate these kind of understandings my people have.”
 
What’s so amazing about that particular lament is that one hears the exact same words from Gay Israelis. Israel has always had a much higher tolerance for the Gay community, but in the bars and social coffee houses, the Israelis and Palestinians hang out together, and that puts men from both groups in danger. Many Palestinians have Gay Israeli boyfriends, and often they are in one another’s country illegally.

 
 Malak, in some regards, is one of the lucky ones. He speaks fluent English, and sometimes works as a tour guide for Westerners who visit Palestine. But there are precious few Westerners in Palestine now, and certainly no tourists. The Western press is not allowed into Gaza, but, as evidenced by the video, Palestinian photographers and journalists have done a remarkable job of documenting the trauma, the fog and the futility of war.  
 
Malak writes: “Gaza is 360 Square Kilometers, so it’s not that big. I’m in the center of Gaza City, and yes I can hear the bombs loud and clear. Even sometimes I put on the headphones on my ears and start listening to loud music, then I feel the ground shaking, and I know that it’s a bomb. And here you must know that the Israeli Army targeted places in Gaza, Like “Al Saraya Building” which is like a big police station, it’s only 400 meters away from a place I was staying in.”
 
The situation on the ground in Gaza is as bad as the United Nations has reported, and it’s getting worse by the hour.
“We hardly get clean water, as Gaza has salty water that isn’t good for irrigating , but some donations got us clean “filtered” water. Stores, shops and supermarkets are closed all the time. some open two or three hours a day. Gaza has always food and medicine problems, the siege finished all our stock, now we have war with nothing in hands. Btw, I feel hungry now!” wrote Malak a couple days ago.
 
And Malak’s own emotions are high, though his comments guarded. “I am mostly tense, frustrated, worried and angry when I hear that people are killed, even from the both sides. Because there is one fact in wars.. People Die.”
 
We asked Malak what other Gay people in America and Europe could do to help. “Actually yes, You people should start caring for us and show us to the world, we do exist and we have the power to change the middle east. Temporarily you can help us immigrate. To start a life under good conditions and to have the freedom to love whoever we want without being persecuted for that simple emotion.The conflict will be resolved only if both stupid leaders on both sides are changed. That’s all I can say, safely.
 
We have asked Malak to drop us a line or two every other day, if possible, so that we may know he is OK. Much of Gaza City is without electricity most of the time, the water supplies are dwindling dramatically, the bombing has destroyed what sewage system the area has, and there is great concern that disease and sickness from the lack of clean water will only exacerbate an already miserable day-to-day existence. Danish doctors have reported that numerous patients have burns consistent with phosphorous burns, although the Israeli Army denies its usage.
 
In an early communication with Malak on 10 January, Malak made this plea: “I really would like to say that people here in Gaza need all your support especially Gay people, some of us want Hamas to end. As we are promised to get killed. Please make an initiative that helps Gay people not only in Gaza/Palestine…But in the Arab world. Gay people are ordinary people, only loving each other more. And don’t forget to send my love and greetings to all people in US. Much Love, Malak.”
 
But his note, sent today, 13 January, 2008, was brief, sweet and made me shiver with concern for him.
 
Hi Tarra,
Nice name you have! Malak means “Angel” and it’s a nickname and it’s ok to use it. You can also link to my website as I will link to yours. Thank you for your wishes of my safety!
 Much Love
~Malak
 
He’s young, and he’s in the midst of a terrible situation. He’s got things to attend to, in the few hours of relative (but not guaranteed) calm in Palestine, and he has a boyfriend and a family. Still…I open my mail each day, as I’ll probably do every day until this madness ends, and hope that the Angel from Palestine has made it through another day alive.
 
This is Malak’s website…please drop by and send him and our gay brothers and sisters in Gaza City your thoughts. They are waiting to hear some good news….and they need to hear from people who are like them. — TT Thomas
 
 
 
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About TT Thomas

Writer, Reader, Reviewer, Thinker, Tinker, Accumulating Amazing Things That Other People Say and Do.
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24 Responses to To Be Gay In Gaza Right Now

  1. Pingback: Ann Somerville’s Journal » Blog Archive » To Be Gay In Gaza Right Now

  2. TikiHead says:

    Hmmm… I know this is absolutely useless before starting. How ’bout Hamas stops firing rockets into Israel? Just for starters?

  3. logophilos says:

    Please send my good wishes to Malak for his safety and all those around him, on both sides.

  4. Malak says:

    Hi, I’m Malak.
    Thanks Tarra for your wonderful article. I’m safe for now. and I wish all the world be in Peace soon. Today we got news that the Israeli Defense Force is approaching the inner neighborhoods of Gaza City, I looked through my window and saw people running with their children in hands. All scared and looking white! Some had burns all over their bodies and I wonder how could they run or walk.

    It’s hard to be alive in Gaza, How about being gay?! and in these times.

    I wish you all support us and support our cuase as Homosexuals.

    Love
    ~Malak

  5. Pingback: Ann Somerville’s Journal » Blog Archive » Meanwhile, in the real world….

  6. doudi says:

    hi malak this is not your prob. only it’s also mine
    so you must get rid of any thing in your mind and to adapt yoursilf upon every thing here till finding the solution
    your comming freind doudi
    almahboul@hotmail.com

  7. noor says:

    avery good story , i liked the personality of malak and his ideas i am agay from gaza and share him the same fellings

  8. noor says:

    malake or any other guys from gaza ,,,, please contact me at
    noor20101980@windowslive.com
    i am from gaza and i am agay
    i need friends to talk to and to share ideas with

  9. VM says:

    Hello Tarra Thomas

    I’m a portuguese journalist currently working for the portuguese and spanish TV. I’m interested in reporting the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay,Bisexual and Transgender community) situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and found your blog during my research. Great article, by the way! I would like to ask if you could give me Malak’s e-mail so that maybe I can ask him to be interviewed, if it doesn’t cause you any trouble, of course. I would be most grateful if you could help me. I leave you my e-mail: violeta_moura@hotmail.com
    Without further subject, I thank you for any given help.

    Best regards!

  10. TT Thomas says:

    Violeta…I don’t know why I didn’t see your comment sooner! My apologies. I regret that I cannot give out Malak’s email address (for his safety), but I can tell you he reads this blog fairly regularly, so he will see your comment and your email address. It’s up to him at that point. Thanks for participating in our discussion.

  11. M. Simon says:

    The futility of war? Some one should tell the Hamas rocketeers. They failed to get the message.

    I’m not entirely unsympathetic. I know the Israeli plan is to make Gaza so uncomfortable that the people will want to leave. Self ethnic cleansing – sort of. The problem with that plan is that no one wants the Palestinians. They make trouble where ever they go. (Black September in Jordan, the expulsion from Saudi and Kuwait post Kuwait (1991) etc.)

    And look at what was happening before the second stupidfada. The Israeli and Palestinian economies were integrating. Palestinian unemployment had fallen by half (from the five years previous) and then Arafat decided that peace was not good for his business.

    Currently neither side has an interest in peace. And the Hamas alliance with Iran is not helping.

  12. palda says:

    hi Malak , this is the 1st time for me to read this website, i think there are so many gay men like you here in Gaza, and they are do not feel free to be free,
    good luck,

  13. roy says:

    hello …

    yes, that’s what it feels like here in gaza ..
    we don’t have our rights on the grounds that we are gay
    fear .. life is like hell .. persecution .. this is what we feel right now ..
    but why we can’t to be free ..? why can’t express what in us?
    we can’t love … yeah we can’t draem .. DAMN .. 😦
    i don’t know what to say .. we wants only our rights
    we wants love

  14. trentharris says:

    The article is very amazing. I really like this article. whole summary is very in trusting and great to read. Such a amazing post. Thanks for sharing.

  15. tom says:

    This could be a great article. But again ploitical views are getting in the way. ofcourse you will say Israel bombing you, that because you are palestinian. Even though you said yourself that Gaza is so small, the peole in it are not welcome anywhere. thats because palestinian have no education to human rights, they just want everyone to believe in allah and all the rest can “die in the name of Allah”. If a palestinian country will be established, you as a gay will have two “options” – be imprisoned or be executed. I been in gaza and I saw how different people are treated there. not only gays, even arab christians get abused. Israel bombs Gaza only when Hamas decide to strike, they know Israel will attack Hamas and then people like you can say “I can hear Israel bombings”. well can you hear the cry of israeli women after their sons dies in Terrorist attack just because he went to coffee shop?!
    fix your own problems in Gaza before you blame everyone else.

  16. SDFGHSSHK says:

    Sadly Malak is no longer with us….His website was shut down only hours ago and he was brutally slain by Palestinian militia forces. They are actively targeting gays on the internet here in Gaza and beyond. “kill all the gays” “kill all the gays” “we must kill kill kill” “we are nothing without the blood of infidels on our hands” blah blah blah blah….it’s so so sad.

  17. Freedomseek says:

    Total lies -Gaza is gay friendly- jews kill all gays on site!
    Don’t you read John Pilger? or Dr Carmen Lawrence?
    Michael Moore Cindy Sheenan?
    More zionist entity propoganda!

  18. Freedomseek says:

    This is total bull shit-do you really think the progressive left would support gaza if they hated gay people?
    Or women?
    The proud supporters of Gaza know the the truth!
    All the rest is Zionist lies>>

  19. Carla says:

    Gays are free in gaza unlike the capitalist west or the zionist entity!
    More Jew lies-women from israel find safety in gaza from zionist thugs.

  20. Lady Gaza says:

    To true Carla life for trans genders is great in Gaza-go to jew land & you get abused by homophbic Israelies

  21. TT Thomas says:

    I’m going to leave most of the comments I’ve read on this thread, though I find most personally objectionable. The original post was in 2009, and things in that region change hourly.

    There is no Zionist political movement on this blog, but there are two sides, or more, to this story. I have taken down the egregious post referring to Malak as “a fag.” I am very close to removing several others.

    Here’s the rules: Whether you are Israeli or Palestinian, gay or straight, please stop the name-calling and the derogatory references to each other’s religion, ethnicity, gender identification, etc etc. First we talk civilly; passion is allowed, but hate speech is not.

    Until I see proof that Malak is no longer with us, I do not have reason to believe that he has been killed. I spoke with him four or five months ago, he seemed fine. I have learned that Malak had a more complicated personal history than I originally knew; nevertheless, I wish him well. If anyone has some proof, either a newspaper article or something from his brother in Germany, or something from the British journalist who did an in-depth story on him a few years ago—until I see something solid, I have no reason to think Malak is not with us.

    No, Malak is NOT his real name…but if you know him, then you know his name, as do I.

    Thank you for participating.

    T.T. Thomas

  22. Gary says:

    Bless your heart you poor man. One day this will all pass and Godspeed!

  23. TT Thomas says:

    UPDATE: Malak is very much alive and has made contact with me. Thanks to everyone who wished him, and his country, well.

    T.T. Thomas

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