The choice: A letter to my mother, and everyone else


A dear brave gay friend of mine came out to his mother two months ago. He wrote this touching letter and asked me to published it on my blog:

The choice: A letter to my mother, and everyone else.

You choose to be gay, and you can “unchoose” it.

Do we choose to cast disappointment on those we love the most?

Do we choose to rob ourselves from the look of love and pride our parents reserve for our siblings who marry their opposite sex?

Do we choose to worry about what the next door neighbours will think and if they’ll report us to the police?

Do we choose to uproot ourselves from everything we know and lived with, every single time a government cracks down on us and we seek refuge somewhere else, amongst foreigners who never saw us battle through our lives since our childhood?

Do we choose to not get married right now because the country we live in doesn’t recognize our union, and one of us has a passport that doesn’t allow us to rest our tired souls on its soil, unless we get married somewhere else, away from everyone that have witnessed our birth and childhood?

Do we choose to worry about, if one of us gets sick and needs rushing to the hospital, what story we’d come up with about the nature of our relationship to the nurse and doctors?

Do we choose to worry about the people who always see us together, grocery shopping, going to the gym, checking in at hotels and ordering a king size bed?

Do we choose to have to delete any of our endearing messages and photographs on our phone should we detained at the airport security offices, in fear that we’d be put in hal and deported?

Do we choose to turn our backs on those we thought love us without any boundaries, because all they us to be is like the rest?

Do we choose to run to every single grave we know, asking their inhabitants if indeed Hell is reserved for us?

We choose to live through it all, because at the end of the day, our love for each other, and for our own selves, is worth it. This is the choice we make. Every single second of every single day.

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The Bride of Amman – Q&A with Translator Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp


The Bride of Amman – Q&A with Translator Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp.

My Kali Interview, Celebrity of the week and Alef book club


Photo shoot My Kali Magazine

Photo shoot My Kali Magazine

It feels good to see the buzz of Arous Amman is still going through the country after more than two years of its debut. On thursday, I was hosted by Lama Zakharia for her radio show “Celebrity of the Week” on Beat FM. The interview was great, went super smooth with Lama being smart, spontaneous and professional as her audience know her. I am a big fan of her myself since I saw her performing last year in the Christmas’s musical of Dozan Awtar. I have also posted a while ago a video for her fighting sexual harassment by singing. She has an amazing voice and great talent. Watch out for her next projects. My interview will be aired next Thursday.

My interview with my kali magazine is published today after  much anticipation. These guys are really talented. We are blessed to have such artistic styled magazine in Jordan. The write-up is really good from the mutli-talented Mike Derderian. Mike is another one to admire, he is an artist who produces amazing illustrations, he is a brilliant writer and a great radio show host as well.  Along with the interview, my kali ran a stylised photo shoot for me. The photographs was taken by the wonderful Hiba Juda, make up by Amer Atta, hair by Ahmad Al Sa’ady, the making of video by Ala’a Abu Qasheh, and the cover/promo design by Atef Daglees. I feel so blessed to get to know all of these talented people. I also would like to dedicate a special thank you to Kali himself for putting the efforts into sustaining this magazine.

I like the smart headline of the interview “Here Comes the Groom!” in reference to me, the one behind the brides in Arous Amman.  And from the interview, I specially like these few lines:

Of course, don’t just take my word for it! It is a brilliant social commentary on an Arabian society filled with mothers, daughters and sisters; working women; married women; divorced women; women pursuing academia; sexually active women; and forlorn spinsters dreaming of the perfect Arab catch. Of course it also sheds light on the misogynistic Arab man; the oppressive father; the married man; the cheating husband; and the self-righteous cousin, who is looking for an excuse to burst the bubble of any of the over-achieving females in his tribe. The main controversy surrounding Aroos Amman most probably erupted from within the pages of the chapter in which a man thinks aloud after making love; making love to another man. I have to admit it was a shocking instance to read in a book written by an Arab Jordanian writer; almost as shocking as the rape scene in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, back in 1994.

I also had a very nice discussion around Arous Amman with Alef book club at the Good Bookshop. The discussion was complimented with a homosexuality debate. Before the debate started I had the chance to give a short presentation about gender and sexuality.  The issue was discussed openly from social, scientific and religious perspective. The event was organised very well and the crowd were respectful and polite. I was pretty much impressed by those youth (around 40 from both genders) discussing such matter openly and logically with full respect to each other opinion. At one point there was a veiled girl arguing against homosexuality talking closely to an openly gay man. Both were addressing their points of view genuinely with no sense of hatred towards each other. When the crowd were asked if they are with giving homosexuals their rights, most of them raised their hands in agreement! That’s something one doesn’t expect to happen in Jordan where a recent stat shows that 97% that society shouldn’t accept homosexuality! My Kali videoed the whole event, they should be posting it soon. I would also like to seize the chance and thank Tarek Abdo and Sanad Nowar for running this book club and organisation this event. That is courageous of them to tackle such issue.

Through Arous Amman I got to know about many book clubs in Jordan. I am happy to see these book clubs growing everywhere. I have to admit, Alef has just became one of my favourites. I wish them all the best.

One last good news, we are almost run out of copies of the 2nd edition of Arous Amman and will be working on a new print.

Tipping the Velvet: The axis of powers shaping Nancy’s gender identity


Gender is the repeated stylization of the body, a set of repeated acts within a highly rigid regulatory frame that congeal over time to produce the Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire appearance of substance, of a natural sort of being.

Judith Butler – Gender Trouble

Tipping the Velvet

Tipping the Velvet

Sarah Walter’s lesbian romance novel ‘Tipping the Velvet’ takes us into an exhilarating journey of Nancy’s playful sexuality. It crosses the boundaries of the strictly heteronormative society of a Victorian England during the 1890s and shows the fluidity of gender in the context of different regulatory frames of desire, culture and class.

Walters divides the book into three major parts of Nancy’s life. Each part unfolds in a set of different events that helps shape Nancy’s fluctuated gender. She examines Nancy’s gender transformation against the powerful drive of desire, performativity, language, melancholia and class. In the first part she introduces Nancy to the world of male impersonators through the character of Kitty the performer, in the second part she examines the power of class in shaping gender expressions through the character of the rich woman Diana, and in the last part she places a matured Nancy into a world of philanthropy and social activism through the character of Florence.

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Salzburg Global Seminar: Advancing sexual expression and gender identity freedoms


Sex and the Citadel

Sex and the Citadel

I had a wonderful time in the past few days here at Salzburg Global Seminar, not just because of the lovely scenery of the Alps mountains or the beauty of the city of Salsburg but also because of the amount of people I got to know closely and connect with. People who came from all over the world (around 33 countries) to participate in a session that aims to set up a blue print for a more risiliant and healthy socieites of the future, societies that integrate within people with different forms of gender and sexual expressions without any prejudice, hatred, or violence.

The forum was pretty diverse and I am not talking here in terms of gender identities or sexual orientations only, but more about the diversity of the expertise and capacities of the participants; a large amount of successful professionals, political leaders, academics, activists, artists and media experts. One of the most impressive participants whom I grew to love and admire is the Egyptian author Shereen Al Feki. She presented her book “Sex and The Citadel” that sums up her five years of research about the contemporary sexuality of the Arab world. I realize that what she means by the “Citadel” is the institution of marriage and from what I heard about the book, it seems to carry the underline research to back up my observations of the Arab societies that I talk about in my book Aroos Amman (Amman’s Bride). It is all about the social obsession in marriage and how this institution is becoing harder and harder to achieve. Describing it as a “Citadel” is very smart and accurate indeed! I look forward to reading the book especially that she told me that she is interested in mentioning my novel in a potential update of her book (fingers crossed).

During the sessions, there been always this questions of identities and cultures and the validity of the acronym of LGBT in addressing the issues of sexual expressions and gender identities. I personally believe that such acronym is problematic  It is culturally biased in a way and restrictive and dividing in another. Those issues should go under the sexual expression and gender identities freedoms umbrella that is more inclusive in my opinion. For instance, I find no reason not to include the “W” in the Arab world, and here I am talking about women at large for they are more and more becoming to face a stronger aggression and hostility towards limiting and redefining their natural sexual expressions.

I would like to thank all of the staff at Salzburge Global Seminar for putting great efforts into organization such an important forum. The network built here is priceless and hopefully would help advancing human rights all over the world towards better societies for all of us. Thank you Klaus Muller (the chair organiser of the event)!

Last year, I participated in Stockholm Water Week and helped developing a young professional vision for the global food and water security and now I am helped coming up with a global statement to advance sexual expression and gender identity rights. It seems I am doing pretty well on the global front! Not bad at all. I guess that when you love the world, it loves you back 🙂

Jordan’s Psychiatrists between science, religion and social expectations!


I realize that many people in Jordan seek alternative medicine when modern medicine fails them either out of desperation or maybe believing a word of mouth or religious belief. They usually do so knowing that going to a “Sheikh” for a religious healing has nothing to do with science. The problem is, when it is the other way around. When you go to a psychiatrists and diagnose you out of religious and social beliefs, ignoring all of the scientific findings and recommendations that he/she built his/her credibility on.

This is clearly the case when it comes to homosexuals in Jordan where many of them seek a *professional* help in order to fight their same sex attraction for they reject it themselves usually out of religious and social reasons. The general stand of psychology today is that there is no proven therapy that can alter one’s sexual orientation safely and effectively. What psychiatrists can do in this case is try to lead their patients into accepting themselves and deal with their inner social and religious conflicts.

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