Using music, videos, photos, and text, a new multimedia project launching this weekend aims to foster dialogue about LGBT people in Palestinian society.
Called "Singing Sexuality," the effort seeks to "start an honest conversation," Haneen Maikey, director of the Al Qaws Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity, told the Inter Press Service news agency. "It's not to be accepted, but rather to bring the society to a safe place that we can discuss these issues," she added.
Her Jerusalem-based organization is sponsoring the effort, which has an interactive website with videos and songs, and will also include various forms of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Alaa, an Al Qaws volunteer who would give only his first name, said the project "is unique because it uses music to reach out to people." It uses several styles of music, from rock to traditional Arabic folk tunes.
Safa Tamish, director of Muntada, the Arab Forum for Sexuality, Education, and Health, said Palestinians are becoming increasingly open to discussion of LGBT issues. I'm not saying that Palestinian society is so pro-gay rights. I cannot say that, but I can say that it is more and more acceptable. The fact is that we know of many, many families that accepted their children," Tamish told IPS. As in other parts of the world, there has been greater progress in large cities than in small towns, she said.
She and Maikey both said they see the fight for LGBT liberation as part of the national Palestinian struggle; many Palestinians consider Israel a colonial power occupying their land. "Our contribution to building a more open Palestinian society is part of an anticolonial struggle," Maikey said.