Wednesday, August 09, 2006

In America

I made it to America, and now I'm in Queens, NY with my sister. For a bit. I'll probably go somewhere else. I'm not really in the mood to post right now, but I'm getting back to it.

First, some interesting things:

At the customs in Newark International Airport, I was kept for a few hours, being questioned over and over again. One officer would ask me a few questions, go away, and be replaced by another who would start all over again. Painful. One word that was mentioned that seemed crazily inaccurate: Taliban. I'm coming from Lebanon, not Afghanistan. Granted, to some people, they may sound similar - they both have "an" in the second syllable. But, as far as I know, they're not the same country, and they're not in the same region. I could be wrong.

In Cyprus, I went to a gay bar on the Greek side one night. I took a taxi into town. When I got there, the driver asked me where I wanted to get out, implying that he would take me there. I told him the gay bar of Limassol, called Allelum. He pulled over immediately, asked for 3 pounds, and drove away. I knew I was near it, but I got lost - I'm no good at reading Greek. What I found is that Cypriots, when I met them, were so very nice to me. They asked where I was from, how I was doing, if I had a beautiful sister. Then I started asking directions to the gay bar. They told me, but shut down and were very cold. There was no conversation after that.

I spent a night two expatriates, one Iranian and one Irish. It was an interesting night, and I got a bit too drunk. We ended up on a pier, sitting on a bench. Just sitting. A car pulled up, and they stood up quickly - they were worried the police might cause trouble for us. An interesting thing about Cyprus: the laws may have been changed to be pro-gay in order to please the European Union, but no one has told the police. Cyprus is a very conservatice country, to put it lightly, and will be dragged kicking and screaming to the modern social policy of the E.U.

It's probably a good example of the situations in a lot of countries - the laws don't tell you much. Just because homosexuality is legal or illegal doesn't predict the situation for gay people in actual day-to-day life. Egypt, for example, has no laws against homosexuality. But it's not a gay haven. In Morocco, there are laws against homosexuality. But it's not nearly as bad.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot of coverage on normal gay life in many countries outside of Europe and North America. Many times, all that people have to reference are laws, treaties, and speeches of political and religious leaders. It's less than half the picture.


Blogger Punkin said...

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August 10, 2006 3:38 AM  
Blogger Red Tulips said...

Wow, you are now in my neck of the woods. (I live in NYC)

I am glad you made it to America safely and soundly, and I hope that you enjoy your stay here to the extent possible.

August 11, 2006 1:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

الحمد لله على سلامتك وربنا يستر على كل العرب بالذات اهالينا في فلسطين والعراق ولبنان

August 11, 2006 5:58 AM  
Blogger Samawel said...

Glad you're safe.

August 11, 2006 1:05 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

I wish I you guys had a pic on your profile. i am very curious what you look like.

August 12, 2006 5:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey, u don't know me, i'm just a random girl from nyc who came across your blog online. welcome to new york! i just wanna show you my support and wish you the best of luck in new york and everywhere else! more power to you!

~LinZ from NYC

August 13, 2006 7:45 AM  
Blogger Ahmed said...

Nice blog
Can you visit my blog please and add me at your blog?

August 13, 2006 10:44 PM  
Blogger Sandouri Dean Bey said...

sorry to hear that the cypriots stopped being as nice when they found out you were gay. not all greeks are like that :)

August 18, 2006 12:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome to Queens! You've got a lot of readers in town.

While you're here, check out Jackson Heights -- it's a multiethnic neighborhood that has a small but significant queer community, including one or two good bars. (Astoria is the only other Queens neighborhood with many gay folks.)

I'm sorry you had a characteristically awful airport experience. New York is still a relatively tolerant place, but airport security is still transparently racist (since they apparently haven't heard of Timothy McVeigh, the IRA, ETA, Aum Shirinkyo ...). Before you get back on a plane, you might want to have the number of a lawyer or an anti-discrimination group on hand.

In any case, hope you like your stay.

August 19, 2006 6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yup, pity about your experience in Cyprus, but the taxi driving community itself is in a world of it's own here. If you ever choose to visit again, check out and give us a shout. It is true that no one has informed the police yet about the new decriminalisation of homosexuality, but it has made a huge difference to the local gay population who have been able to come out of the closet without fear of being arrested, so more power we say!

May 10, 2007 12:48 AM  
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March 11, 2015 6:25 PM  

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