In Pursuit of (Inclusive) Queer Spaces: The Case of Middle East

Authors: Ozlem Atalay*, Florida State University, Petra L. Doan, Florida State University
Topics: Middle East, Sexuality
Keywords: queer spaces, middle east, urban studies, lgbtq
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Galerie 3, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

There is an ongoing debate regarding the viability of inclusive queer spaces in the western world given the increase in visibility and legal rights of LGBTQ+ communities (Nash and Gorman-Murray, 2014; Doan 2015; Ghaziani, 2017). The critical issues are quite different in the Middle East. In this research we seek to identify queer inclusive spaces across Middle East and ask how are they defined and given meaning by local populations. If there are no such spaces, is this lack explained by intolerance in urban areas where spaces used by queer people become visible and subject to oppression and violence? We review and analyze present literature, documents produced by local and international LGBTQ+ organizations, as well as online newspapers, magazines, and blogs. We recognize that some forms of queer inclusive spaces might include streets, cinemas, bars, and cafes. However, we remain open to discovering other formations in current use in places such as Turkey, Lebanon, and Egypt. We describe the forms and meanings of these places, but recognize the fragile nature of these vulnerable areas that are open to sudden adverse interventions. In addition to physical places, we anticipate the importance of the virtual/cyber world (Walsh-Haines, 2012) in areas of high intolerance. In contrast to arguments about the ways that cyber spaces may be undermining queer spaces in the west, in the Middle East context we try to understand whether such cyber spaces may lay a generative role in the formation of queer inclusive spaces.

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