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 🙂

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Like Girls Grow Breasts When They are Older, Some of Them Grow Penises


As a kid, I was bombarded with rules and stereotypes about gender. It was always a boy/girl dichotomy. Way before I had any idea about sexuality or puberty, I was taught that boys love girls and girls love boys and that’s how the world works. But what seemed like a universal law didn’t make a sense to me. I was never interested in girly things. I cut my hair really short and played soccer and climbed rocks. I deduced, therefore, with my young logical mind, that my feelings for girls could only mean one thing: that I was actually a boy. How else could I have crushes on girls? So I came to the conclusion that, like girls grow breasts when they’re older, some of them grow penises.”

That is a testimony of one of the lesbians girls in a new published book called “Bareed Mista3jil” – It is a set of letters (short stories) of Lebanese lesbians talking about each themselves and how different are their stories and struggle with both their gender and sexual identities.

There are many touching stories in the book, this one hit me the most because of the picture this woman draws of a young girl who loves girls, and who thought that because of the common norms of society, she must become a boy, and that God will fix the problem eventually when she grows up and grow her a penis!!

The girl continues her story by explaining how she finds out that some girls do actually love other girls and that she simply has different sexual orientation. That made her more comfortable with her gender as a woman.

Bareed Mista3jil is an excellent read, it gives you a broader perspective about the diversity of human beings in terms of gender and sexual identities in relations to the particularity of the Lebanese society.

It is a must read – You can find it at Books@Cafe or order it online from the Books Cafe website here for $16.95.