You will have a hard time keeping up with all the controversies Joe Maalouf gets himself into. It's within his nature, he lives for controversy and sensationalism and makes bucket loads of money along the way. I don't blame him for that, we the viewers encourage him to push for more fadayi7 w sarsara.
A few months ago Joe M. began his crusade to purge the country from the vice of low-end movie theaters. He started in Tripoli and back then I commented strongly on the issue warning that he is a big threat that should be taken seriously.
Now he's back and this time he caused some serious harm. Apparently some 30 men or so were detained after he talked about yet another shady movie theater. It's not really clear how big his role is in these arrests, and some have cautioned to wait for hard evidence that the police acted upon information he divulged.
So is he really responsible for outing these men? I cannot imagine the shame and humiliation they are enduring now. What about their families? They must be really shocked that their loved ones got caught in such a mess. These men were outed in a horrible way over which they had no control whatsoever.
Siding with the weaker link, some gay activists outed Joe M. so he can taste some of his own poison. My gaydar whispered in my ears a long time ago: he's gay, gay I tell you. I firmly believe that many many people, gay and straight, were almost certain he was gay long before his outing.
Being gay doesn't change much for me. He's a horrible person with backward views and an arsenal of weapons at his disposal. He's well connected and he will use the media for more vehement attacks on the gay community especially gay activists. He will deny what activists asserted regarding his sexual orientation and accuse them of defamation.
If anything, this whole incident proves how precarious the situation the Lebanese gay community lives in. Many of us have been fooled by the skin deep enhancements we have experienced over the past years. The few pubs and night clubs we enjoy don't change much. It all boils down to the fact that it is still illegal to be gay in Lebanon.
Joe Maalouf and many others will continue to prey on the gay community. Maybe outing Joe M. will weaken him and will put him in check, or maybe it won't. But other media personalities will come and fill his shoes, and many will be just as homophobic, if not more.
We need to look at the big picture, which is how to block self-righteous wannabes, à la Joe Maalouf, from bullying the marginalized gay community of Lebanon. This cannot happen if laws don't protect sexual minorities and if society continues its slow march towards more rigorous interpretation of religion.
Joe Maalouf is a homophobe, a self-hating gay, but it's not the issue. As long as our society is fine with homophobes, and by large our society still is, we will continue to witness events like this.
This is a reminder and a call for action for all those who believe in human rights and equality to increase their efforts to achieve a just and egalitarian society.