I’ve created a tumblr, qARAB. It’s a repository for the QUirky and QUeer Arabs I encounter. QUirky because they’re eccentric, unexpected and atypical. And of course QUeer because gay Arabs exist.
I’ve been here in Amman, Jordan for 3 weeks now. I purposefully sought out the people and places in Amman that don’t fit the cultural stereotype of Muslims / Arabs. And I didn’t have to look far.
Within 2 days of meandering the cafes in trendy inner-city suburb Weibdeh, I discovered a hive of social misfits, cultural deviants, creative thinkers and doers who are pushing boundaries. Already I’ve met many people who are refusing repressive cultural forms, some quietly in their own private way and others more loudly in a public manner. Many of them remain close to their God and identify as Muslim despite rejecting other cultural forms. Others have rejected religion completely and cringe when we foreigners think they’re getting their local lingo on and say Insha’Allah. And of course I’ve also met those who are nonchalant about everything and just want to skate. (Inside joke).
I created qARAB as a place for all of these different variations of unconventional to huddle together, to challenge Islamophobia and the negative stereotype of Arabs we have in the West, and to join the cacophony of local media representing cultural minorities in the Arab world.
The people you meet on qARAB might not seem radical to us but remember the regional, social, political and cultural context in which they live. Public shaming is prevalent in many ways. Honour killings still happen. Ostracism from families and communities is a very real threat for those aspiring for an unconventional way of life.
People face lots of challenges here. But qARAB isn’t about the problems, we get enough media about those, qARAB is about a celebration of expression by brave individuals thinking and living outside the box.
Disclaimer: I’ve only been here for 3 weeks. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the culture or communities here. I haven’t even scratched the surface yet, I’ve just been sitting on top of it observing what people choose to reveal.
Check it out and keep coming back, qARAB will evolve as my experience of this place and people does.
– Jordan in Jordan 😉