Growing up in KSA, I witnessed a Pakistani and an Indian being executed in Medina for being gay. The image of the two beheaded bodies still haunts me until now. It never fails to stir anger and despise against the Saudi kings and princes, especially that I know for a fact that Prince Abdulmajid, the prince of Medina at that time, is gay, and is called in the Saudi gay scene “Majida”.
Returning to Syria and residing in Aleppo, I realized that gay men in Aleppo were even more paranoid than the Saudis were. Hafez Assad’s so-called “secret” police used to harass everyone – they know the gay cruising places, and they took pleasure in scaring people out. Conservative Aleppo fed their sick appetite.
After being beaten up in Lebanon by bunch of homophobic idiots when I was 21, and after being told not “sit” in a certain place in Aleppo by a stupid police officer, I decided to change people’s views of homosexuality. I did not have any idea how to do it then, but I have had it ever since in mind. At that point, I did not have a clue that this is called LGBT activism.
The idea of defying homophobia proved to be harder in a region where gay men still suffer from their guilt complexes. Some of them enjoy the pain they inflect upon themselves – they just enjoy spoiling all the fun with reprimanding remarks; they reprimand their “sexual activity” and they struggle to make their “partners in crime” feel the same guilt. The challenge therefore was changing how gay men viewed homosexuality; it’s not a sin for fuck’s sake!
With all that shadowing my life, I managed to have all the fun I could find – there was a lot of it in Syria. Without even noticing, I managed to sleep with high officials within the Assad’s regime; parliamentarians, ministers, army officer… etc. Only my closest friends knew about my sexual adventures with Syrian officials. On a funny note, a friend of mine called me when Bashar Assad appointed the new government (in 2011) and asked me, “which minister did you sleep with?”, “I can say there are two of them, but you know I won’t tell you the names”, I said.
Knowing that “my” officials might suffer the most in a country where homosexuality is illegal, I used to ask them bluntly, “since you love cocks that much, why don’t you try to change the homosexuality incriminating law?” Most of them used to change the subject despite my efforts to suggest ways to approach it. Most of them said, “I can’t risk being accused of being gay”. I used to respond with “you know they have files and rap sheets against everyone they hire – this is Syria. If you are not corrupt, then you’re gay or a spy – you know that as much as I know it”.
I knew then as much as I know now that it is almost impossible to convince an official or a member of parliament in any Arab country to try to save their fellow gay men from persecution, but it was a way to make those idiots feel that they were more vulnerable than others under the Syrian laws.
In Syria, Hafez Assad was feared as a god; it was his approach to control the country. On the other hand, Bashar tried a different one; he tried to humanize himself – Baathists and many Syrians used to call him Dr. Bashar, which implied that “he is a caring human”, after all, doctors are respected for their knowledge and their efforts to save human lives.
Whilst I had only to deal with minor police harassment under the “god’s regime”, the doctor’s secret police started to investigate me routinely for blogging about gay life in Syria using my name and my face photo. Regular visits were “requested” every three months, and I had to answer to stupid questions every time. I tried to have my blog on “Blogger” back then because the “blogspot” domain was blocked in Syria – many bloggers were arrested. “Blogging is forbidden under Syrian laws”, this is a fact that everybody knows.
I was “judged” by many Muslims and Arabs after I started blogging. In the past, I was hated for being “so out” and never caring about “being exposed”. After the Syrian Revolution, I had to use a pseudonym. Those who read this blog accused me of “mixing politics with sexuality”.
I am a proud guy; proud of who I am, proud of my political views, and proud of my sexuality. A queer should be pro human rights, pro equality, anti-racism, and anti all regimes that allow killing and taking human lives. That is called politics – sexual orientation is politics.
Source – Sami Hamwi