Queer Arabs

Arab Queers Reject Pinkwashing

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Arab Queers Reject Pinkwashing
March 19, 2016 7:00 PM
March 19, 2016 9:30 PM
Suggested donation of $5 to benefit the Bureau. No one turned away for lack of funds.
212 620 7310 ext. 300
February 29, 2016
Bureau of General Services—Queer Division @ The Center
212 620 7310 ext. 300
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208 West 13th Street, Room 210, New York, NY, 10011, United States
Queer Arabs


As the events of the revolutionary uprisings across the Arabic world were unfolding, the (neo)liberal western media was concerned with the situation of gays in the Arabic world. Identities of Arab queers and the rhetoric of their struggles were (and have always been) imposed on them by the western media ultimately to undermine the revolutionary uprisings for freedom. Arab queers are portrayed by the media without the Arab queers themselves being the painter of this portrait. Arab queers are continuously done, undone and distorted by either western media or their societies in which they live. Either immigrants or living in their home countries, Arab queers are continuously sculpted by an external force, either tradition or religion or neocolonial rhetoric. Pinkwashing the revolutionary uprisings made the Arab queers part of the neocolonial plan to impose a cultural hegemony over the Arabic world.

Being queer and Arab ourselves, many questions cross our minds: “Do we have an identity that we made ourselves? Are we always identified by another outside entity? Can we resist identification by the west? How can we do this act of resistance? Do we have to import the neoliberal hegemonic culture to define our queerness? Isn’t this some kind of slavery to the west? Are Arab queers aware of the distortions they are exposed to? Are Arab queers seeking asylum in places other than their home countries aware of the rigid identification they are exposed to? Are Arab queers definable at all? How can we address ourselves then?”

In the midst of all these dilemmas, we are traumatized and displaced from ourselves. We internalize both the malaise of our societies that we were uprooted from and employ survival strategies to live and get by in the white supremacist society. Pinkwashing does not only become an external political strategy but it becomes a psychological internalized strategy that provides many of the lies we tell ourselves. We change our names from Mohammed to Moe, We try hard not to speak our “native” languages, We become racist towards blacks, We distance ourselves from our heritage, We follow the latest “white” fashion, we become a nothingness, we become ahistorical, we become zombies. All in the name of our ultimate infatuation with the white supremacist society.


Please join Ahmed El HadyAbed Haddad, & Khalid for a discussion and presentation on the sources, effects, and current resistance against Pinkwashing.


Suggested donation of $5 to benefit the Bureau. No one turned away for lack of funds.


(Event photo: Graffiti in Ramallah reads “Queers passed through here.” Image courtesy of Al-Qaws)


Ahmed El Hady is a neuroscientist at Princeton university. He is a queer activist interested in queer knowledge production in the middle east and the premise of revolutionary movements. He has been one of the founding members of the Egyptian Women Union and has actively participated in the Egyptian uprising that unfolded & still unfolding in the past years. Moreover, he is one of the founders of the Egyptian Student Young Pugwash , an organization that advocates for safe use of technology. He has given several international talks on the issue of neuroscience and its implication on human security.


Abed Haddad is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Chemistry at the City College of New York, and from Jackson, Mississippi where he graduated from Millsaps College. Before that, he lived in the suburbs of Louisiana, having immigrated there from Amman, Jordan at age 14. Abed is an active volunteer at BGSQD and loves the strong gin and tonics at Julius’.


Khalid is a Chicago based Palestinian social artivist. They perform under monikers “Basita Khaled” and “Miss Leading”. They use these characters for story telling using music, gender stretching and visual/theatric performance art as mediums. Their works carry the narrative and commentary on North African/Middle Eastern queerness, queer Islamic spirituality, dismantling patriarchy reversing assimilation and reclamation of brownness. They can be found on Instagram @miss_leadin