From Lebanon, in a Hurry

The brave new book Bareed Mista3Jil (a Lebanese Arabic phrase that means "Express Mail") documents queer women's stories for the Arab world.

BY Amita Parashar

July 08 2009 12:00 AM ET

Soraya* remembers the day rockets blew up her parents' living room. During the Lebanese civil war, her family lived off charity with little food to eat. She knows that Lebanon still has pressing diplomatic issues and hopes that its citizens get the right to be protected from the atrocities of war she faced.

But she would trade in all those hopes for the right to tell her mother she is gay.

"If I told her I was gay, she would resent me, she would hate herself, she would cry for years because she believes it's a sickness and she would think it's her fault. What would I rather face? War or homophobia? I'll take war," she writes.

Her story is one of 41 written by queer women and trans people across Lebanon in the new book Bareed Mista3jil (a Lebanese Arabic phrase that means "Express Mail").

"We wanted to tell the stories of people who are not always present in Arab media," the book's editor, Nadine Moawad, said from New York. The book, which launched May 30 to a crowed of hundreds in Beirut, has already sold out its first run of 550. Over 50 copies have been ordered online from the United States alone.

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