James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center

Monday, October 19, 2009

Unspeakable and Illegal

In many of the countries of the Middle East to be openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered is to risk life and limb, and in some countries even the death penalty. But learning to navigate turbulent waters has always been a survival skill of LGBT folks, and Brian Whitaker, a scholar and a journalist, chronicles some of these strategies in his book, Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East. Although he tends to underestimate the role that sexism plays in these cultures, his insight into religious and secular bias is well worth the journey.

For more of an anecdotal and personal approach, check out Illegal Citizens: Queer Lives in the Muslim World by Somali writer and film-maker, Afdhere Jama. The style here is more informal consisting of individual interviews laced with commentary that includes more voices of women and transgendered folks forging an every day path of resistance in spite of many obstacles.

Alone or in combination these books provide an opening glance into the lives of LGBT Muslims and other Middle Eastern members of our community.

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