Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Closeted Gays in Lebanese Drama

It is never easy to come to terms with your homosexuality. For many, it's an ordeal, a choice they never made, never wanted and never imagined for themselves.

Early on society throws all its stereotypes and norms on us. Although things are slowly changing, Lebanese society in general does not really understand or accept homosexuality. As we realize our difference, we have a difficult time to embrace our own sexuality and enjoy some inner peace. This process was even more arduous in the past where homosexuality was highly stigmatized and most gays self-loathed to a disturbing degree.

In order to avoid the stigma and the shame, many gays used to (and still are) get married reassuring society that they too conform to its norms, leading a seemingly heterosexual life as loving husbands and fathers in public, while in private, they pursued the life of a typical closeted gay. This is how society functions (mostly anyways). As long as you are following the accepted norms, you're safe, you're accepted, you're within, if it is true or not, whatever, as long as this is what we see. Anything else should be kept hidden.

Lebanese media used gays characters mostly in comedy shows. Wajdi w Majdi are a hit, and their success invited others to copy their examples.  I am not going to talk about Wajdi w Majdi now, and what I think about them, but it is surprising that Lebanese drama has mostly avoided featuring gay characters that have a depth to their personae beyond the relentless quest for anal insertion (Wajdi and Majdi's success formula). However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that a recent tv series entitled Min Kol Qalbi featured a gay character with actual problems. Hurray! Rejoice! Fire up your arms, and to the air !!!! Okay, enough celebration.

The character in question is called Samih, and in the series he is married to an annoying girl, a typical gold-digger. The girl was in love with another guy, she ditched him for Samih's deep pockets. One day as she was fighting with his family, she got upset because he didn't defend her and left as she was still arguing with his parents. Soon after, she gets out of to the garden, walking distressed  and there she is shocked to see her husband kissing the chauffeur.

Naturally he freaks out when he knows his wife is there and begs her to remain silent, she is crying, and cannot believe her husband is gay. As he begs her to calm down and promises to do everything she wants in exchange for her silence. She tells him that he used her as a cover up and asks why the hell he wanted children. Devastated he answers that he didn't chose this calamity (this is how he views homosexuality), he is not happy with his condition, and as he married her to cover up his homosexuality, she married him for his money. So in a way they are even.

So who is Samih? Is he a rare case? By all means, he isn't. Many closeted gays have chosen his path and some even try to fool themselves that by establishing a family they can somehow cure their condition. Eventually, most fail.

Whether this character portrayed gays in a negative or positive way is debatable, but there is no denying that it highlighted something real and is not uncommon among Lebanese and Arab gays.

I sincerely hope that Lebanese drama pushes the limits even more. We want more real life characters depicted in these series, dealing with topics that keeps us coming back for more.

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