Arabian Exposure

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1 November 2011
Arabian Exposure
Sex is in the air. What`s so special about Arabian men? It`s their eyes, their dark looks...They are men of mystery! You must find out.
Studio: Oh Man! Studios
Director: Bruno Riccelli

Gay Rights and Culture in Turkey

11 June 2010

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Turkey LGBT Rights:

Homosexual Acts Legal? Yes

Same-sex Relationships Recognized? No

Same-sex Marriages Allowed? No

Same-sex Adoption Allowed? No
◊ Neither joint nor second parent adoption is available to same-sex couples in Turkey.

Can Gays Serve Openly in the Military? No, they are banned from military service

Anti-discrimination Laws? None

Legislature Concerning Gender Identity? Not much

◊ Lack of anti-discrimination legislation is particularly harmful when it comes to employment as most transgender people in Turkey are prevented from finding traditional work.

Cultural Points of Interest:
The Turkish government regularly tries to harass and close LGBT focused organizations. This behavior has come to the attention of the European Union, which in their annual progress report they said these issues should be resolved.

Over 45 members of the LGBT community have been murdered in the past 3 years due to hate crimes.

Websites:

Istanbul LGBTT – An grass roots human rights organization in Istanbul that focuses on the needs of the local transsexual community.
http://www.istanbul-lgbtt.org

Lambda Istanbul – LGBT organization operating in Istanbul, and who hosts the yearly pride parades.
http://www.lambdaistanbul.org

Kaos GL – Ankara rights group, also includes history on their website of Turkey LGBT history
http://www.kaosgl.com/

GAY CULTURES IN CAIRO, EGYPT

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Cairo is the cultural and sexual capital of the Middle-East offering a wide range of erotic possibilities for every taste. It is a multicultural “megapolis” harboring exiles from all over the Arab world, with a large community of men interested in gay sex. Islamic culture knows a strong taboo on homosexual practices, foremost on anal sex (liwat) which is forbidden in the Q’uran. The attitude regarding other practices is less clear which might offer an escape for homosex- ual men neglecting the taboo and engaging in other practices as mutual mastur- bation, intercrural or oral sex. But it is only a small percentage of the population which follows religious rules. Many men depart from those and care little about homosexual activities. Moreover, Cairo harbors important Christian minorities, in the first place the Kopts. Homosexuality is often attributed to these minorities as it is to Western tourists.

1. Spaces. Spaces for homosexual activities are omnipresent in the streets, but especially along the river Nile and on its beaches where men meet each other for sexual purposes. Arab male homosociality facilitates its male homoeroticism. Next to these places, there are public spaces as cottages, bars and baths where homosex- ual contacts are made. But there are no exclusive gay bars as they exist in most other big cities elsewhere. Hotel lobbies and bars where gay foreigners and male prostitutes congregate come closest to such an institution. Very few men have private space for gay sex at home so most men interested in homosexuality, have to go out in the streets to find it. In the Arab world, a strong public-private divide exists. Homosexuality, especially the passive role, is shamefull when it becomes public, but as long as it remains private, the involved person can keep up his honour (Gilmore 1987). Men have to prove their male honour, but if their private affairs that are considered to be shamefull do not filter back into public life, these do not fire back on their honorable status. Much depends on the position and the reliablity of the partner. As foreigners have no honour, they are easy targets for Arab men interested in gay sex.

1.1. Sexual border traffic. In the Arab world, homosexual identities and gay cultures are largely absent, but even stronger than in Latin-America, men seem to be available for active roles in homosexual activities. For this reason, Arab countries as Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco have always had a great reputation for gay tourism, but less so today because anti-western sentiments coincide with anti-homosexual ones. The growing awareness of homosexuality with the tabu still in full force has more- over made the practice more difficult.

2. Language. This has to be researched for Egypt from the beginning although there have been studies on Arab terminology (Schmitt 1995).

3. Identity and community. With the growing exposure to the Western world, gay identities and cultures are also developing, in the first place among Arabs living in western countries but also in the Arab countries themselves. Although some authors have claimed not to have found any trace of gay identity or community in Cairo (Miller 1992), others found it (Botje 19). As Cairo is a multicultural city where many influ- ences come together, there is also a diversity of gay identities. The rich Euro- peans and Arabs from the Gulf States have created their own spaces and cultures, as have gay men from the Egyptian middle class. Among the rich who have seen the gay world in the West, assuming a gay identity has become self- evident. It is unclear if this “being gay” has the same meaning in Cairo as in London or Paris. Among other groups, less exposed to Western culture, assuming a gay identity is much rarer.

4. Gender. There is a strict separation between active and passive roles. Men with strong homosexual interests are probably pushed into passive roles considered to be feminine. These homosexual men have of course not to comply that they are made passive and become feminized victims of male desire, and many indeed succesfully reject such roles. An explanation might be that sex equals power in Arab society. Homosexual men are considered to be dangerous as they have come to know the secrets of the men they had sex with. Also, they are seen as being well connected because of their presumed gay networks and might influence thus each other’s future. Homosexual men may be considered feminine and passive, but because of the rejection and violence they have faced, they have become fierce and brave characters which counteracts the idea of effeminacy and passivity. They occupy an ambivalent position between the secure masculinity of normal men who take active roles, and the femininity of women who have to comply to male desires.

5. Age. Homosexual acts are typically reserved for the unmarried. And between young men, it is the youngest who should take the passive role. So, homosexual men grow old with the prejudice they are childish because homosexual practices are something not done on an adult age and with a married status. Of couse, many exceptions break this rule.

6. Sexual practices. There seems to be a clear divide between active and passive sex, and a strong emphasis on anal practices. The more private and intimate a social connection becomes, the less important such rules become and sexual relations can become interchangeable. As most sexual connections start on the streets, men have to be well aware of the way they enter them because many eyes pry on their activities and reputations. If there is indeed a clear divide between passive and active roles, this will hinder the spread of aids.

Onderzoeksplan en methode: zie de hoofdtekst. In the first place, the available literature will be sorted out (Schmitt 1995). Special attention will be given to sexual border traffic as it seems to be exten- sive, but could well be on the decline because of growing knowledge of homo- sexuality and anti-western sentiments.

‘Sexualising’ Arab Men

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Moroccan/Arab men, as I pointed out earlier, are portrayed to us as obsessed ‘buttocks starers’, time wasters sitting in cafés and street corners studying women’s invisible physiognomy (p 20). They are ‘genetically’ unable to control their urges. Mallouhi tells us that ” a Western breast would [not] be so uninteresting to Moroccan men” (p 20). What’s about Moroccan breasts to European men? Mallouhi does not tell us how she comes to such ‘insightful’ conclusions? Not through sociology, psychoanalysis, cultural theory, ethnography or even commonsensicality. Instead, typical of intellectual laziness and epistemological corruption, she tells us that “Arab culture assumes that there is only one reason why a man and a woman are alone. Sex is up front in every one’ s mind” (p, 28). This is pure orientalism, tautological, and relentlessly simplistic. The author’s stereotyping is irredeemable since she only occasionally and superficially informs us about the status of her Western and Christian realities. It is above refutation that in the post-modern stage of ‘Western’ culture (including some segments of Western Christianity) almost everything has become sexualised. People may not stare in the streets, but are created confined spaces and institutions, (including TV, the Internet, Pleasure lands or clubs, pornographic spaces) heavily charged with sexual expressions and practices in the name of personal freedom of expression. Sex in the ‘West’ is, indeed, in every one’s mind and in every imaginable quotidian space. It has lost a lot of its playfulness, energy of seduction precisely because it has lost the fabric of romance which, by and large, still exits in Moroccan traditional culture.

Staring according to her is a ‘pathological’ condition that Moroccan men suffer from. Whilst one has to objectively scrutinise individual motives in every case, one has to concede, at least, that the rigid feteshisation of society in the ‘West’ is more ‘pathological’ (rendered normal) than staring at passers by in an open space. Mallouhi even traces men’s fear of women to Arabian Nights. She tells us that such a text informs a current situation where “mistrust of woman’s sexuality still prevails” (p. 39). She advocates that such fear has been consistent historically and that is why Muslim/Arab men are ‘sexually oriented’. Many of the stories, fairy tales collected in the Arabian Nights are ancient, as ancient as Homeric traditions. The story of Shahrazad and the Sultan Schahriar are, according to Al-mas’udi, an Arab historian, of Persian origin dating back to the 9th century and had been translated into Arabic as the Al kkhurafa (fictional tale). Arabian Nights were told and retold orally — and transmitted from at least four civilisations, Persian, Indian, Islamic and Egyptian. Arabian Nights kept circulating only orally until they were written between the 12th and 14th centuries. The body of narratives that Mallouhi faintly refers to is the one consisting of a group of tales which possibly originated in Baghdad, the hegemonic cultural, economic and political centre of the Abbassid dynasty from 750 AD. In these tales we have the figure of Haroun Alrachid and other important Caliphes. Arabian narratives contain an astounding and unique overlap of fictions, ancient tales, prophetic imagination and magical realism. Mallouhi’s reading of some of these tales is ironically a contradiction in terms, as their fictionality refuses her imposed rigid and heedless interpretation.

These stories do not reflect, in any conceivable way, a mistrust of woman’s sexuality vis-a- vis a specific category called Muslim/Arab men. No doubt, they are fictionalisations of Islamic modernity between the 8th and, possibly, until the 14th century, but most importantly, their worldview is a humanist exploration of man’s (as well as woman’s) human too human trappings. In this sense Arabian Nights is universal, and appeals to all cultures. Shakespeare, for instance, was inspired by its tales; Arabian narrative impulse is easy to detect in most of his plays. Reading Arabian Nights in this reductionist (and dare I say mercenary) manner is like suggesting that Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (also inspired by Arabian Tales) elucidates the English natural sense of superiority. Or Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, the untamibility of English women in the 20th century.

The tales’ so called ‘pornographic’ parts are there to tell a human story about sexual expressions and trappings that exist in all cultures. The tales’ fictional sense of space is seen in an inclusion of homosexual practices, the exploitation of Ghilman (young men for sex) and other forms of sexual practice. If the author brands some parts of Arabian Nights as pornographic, I hope she is able to concede that some parts of the Bible are also pornographic. Mallouhi again resists the fluidity of Arab consciousness as portrayed in these universal tales. She is perfunctorily striving to deliver (and deliver, she does!) what her reader expects. To relate such depiction to a fear engulfing Muslim men in the 20th century is to demonstrate an alarming degree of conceptual mediocrity, and historical misreading of the Arab world.

Why does Mallouhi seem to get most things wrong about Arab/Muslim culture? One thing she never comes to terms with (hence her acrimonious Euro-centrism) is to understand that the essence of Moroccan culture is fluidity and perplexity. Moroccan culture resembles the figure of the Flanneur in Baudlaire’s fiction. The Flanneur is a poet whose environment is the crowd. He merges with the people. He gases at everyone. He is a great observer of spontaneous manners and movement. He occupies a huge space because he owns none of his own. He possesses a passion for visual performance. He is a living man of imagination. For this reason he resists rationalisation, consumerism, mapping of space, construction and confinement. In short, he resists rigidity and domestication. Moroccan daily life is spirited, large, inconsistent and full of surprises. Moroccan public life is a prototype of a fête galante painting.

Arab Men and Sex

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A Jordanian guy came to America earlier this year with his mother to visit some relatives, and rented an apartment close to mine. Being a single Arab, this guy started hunting for girls to have sex with. In less than a week he started sleeping with his German neighbor and later another American neighbor.

Sometimes I call his mother who seems to be a relatively conservative religious old lady, and when I ask her if Salem (fake name) is available, she’d just laugh and reply “Walla Salem ma3 el banat, beshrab gahweh!!” I would guess what (beshrab gahweh) means and she knows very well what (beshrab gahweh) means! But it looks like she’s not very concerned.

Today I called and asked again “where is Salem?”
and she answered “walla ya khalti hayyo ma3 Amanda bel berkeh, ballahi i7keelo bekaffeeh hamaleh!!”

So she knows everything. She knows that he is having sex with all these women but the only thing she does is asking me to do is help him stay away from women. I was wondering what if that lady had a daughter sleeping with American men instead? Would she have the same response?? Wouldn’t that Arab girl be killed or at least dismissed from the family?

Salem called me again today and he told me the good news: He’s returning to Jordan to get engaged to a girl who is very conservative, never ever had a boyfriend, doesn’t talk to guys and doesn’t even have the cell phone number of any guy. Way to go!

I don’t blame it all on men. I think women and mothers are to blame for raising such men with this sick mentality, men who regard themselves and gods who can sin then repent in a scheduled manner, and women are ready to forgive their husbands anything in their past but know that their husbands or fancies would leave them if he discovered that she ever dated a guy.

Das Schwulencommunity in Istanbul

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Die heißesten Jungs der Türkei zeigen alles bei IstanBoys.com

“Sex and the City? ist für Minderjährige verboten, der größte Verband, der sich um Schwulenrechte bemüht – Lambda – ist ständig bedroht, es wurde sogar darüber nachgedacht eine Moschee speziell für die Schwulengemeinde zu erbauen…In der Türkei und vor allem in den Istanbuler Stadtteilen Beyoglo und Taksim, ist Sex und Sexualität ein absolutes Tabuthema, aber dies hat die Entstehung von Discos, Bars, Hammams, Hotels speziell für Schwule, Lesben, Bisexuelle und Transsexuelle nicht verhindert…es ist alles eine Frage der Diskretion und Zeit.

Das homosexuelle Erwachen

Seit Anfang der 90er haben homosexuelle Verbände in der Türkei Raum gewonnen: Mit Belästigungen durch die Polizei konfrontiert, organisierten sie Gaypride und Aktivitäten, denunzierten Homophobie und organisierten Treffen. Bei dem letzten Treffen, was Lambda Istanbul organisierte offenbarte sich, dass in der Türkei 40% der Schwulen und Lesben sich dazu verpflichtet fühlen heterosexuelle Beziehungen zu führen, 56% ihre Sexualität mit vielen Schwierigkeiten ausleben und dass 88% dieses Geheimnis vor ihrer Familie haben – Quelle: rue88.com.

Aber die Homosexualität wird nicht als Delikt angesehen…Istanbul, eine Stadt mit einer grossen Schwulenbevölkerung, ist voll von Lokalen, wo jeder willkommen ist. Und der Stadtteil Taksim ist einer der Hauptadressen: Club 14, 5.KAT, Barbahce, g_LAB, 20&19 sind einige der beliebtesten Bars und Diskos. Aber es gibt noch viele mehr, genau wie Büchereien, türkische Bäder, Sexshops, spezielle Fitnesstudios…und nahe der Istiklakstrasse wächst die Anzahl an Schwulenbars langsam. Für mehr Info besucht die Webseite http://www.qrd.org/qrd/world/europe/turkey/guide.

Diskretion um Akzeptanz zu erlangen

Was deine sexuelle Orientierung auch sein mag, du wirst den Charme von Istanbul geniessen und wenn du dich für dieses delikate Thema interessierst, setz dich zugunsten der Rechte dieser Gemeinde ein. Ein schwuler Ausländer macht einen grossen Beitrag, da er offener sein kann und mehr Visibilität zulässt und dies dazu führt, dass die Gesellschaft mehr Respekt bekommt. Handle mit Diskretion, das ist der beste Rat den wir dir geben können, weil Provokationen und Gewalt nichts effektiv sind. Jedes Land hat seinen eigenen Rhythmus.

Zöger nicht und miete günstige und bequeme Appartments in Istanbul, um einen Pärchenurlaub zu genießen.

Sex & The Middle East: True Or False?

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Like many other women across the country, my girls and I hit the movies at midnight late last week to catch the first screening of Sex & The City 2. I was super excited to see the mouth-watering fashion, the developing storylines of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda and the glittering locations of New York City and Abu Dhabi. However, I was most interested to see if critics’ rumors of a prejudiced portrayal of Middle Eastern culture (women in particular) were true.

The first telling scene occurs early in the movie, when the Arab hotelier who offers Samantha and her girlfriends an all-expenses paid trip to his resort dramatically announces “Dubai is over. Abu Dhabi is the NEW Middle East.? Not so new, it seems—the actual film had to be made in Morocco instead of Abu Dhabi because the government would not allow it, and theaters across the emirate have actually been banned from showing the movie.

When the ladies arrive in “Abu Dhabi? and are lazing by the resort pool, they observe women in full niqabs (complete face coverings) lounging, as well. “The veil across the mouth freaks me out,? Carrie quietly comments. “It’s like they don’t want them to have a voice.? The group then comically observe one woman in full niqab eating the most American of foods—french fries—and marvel over how she does it. Carrie’s honest observation of the niqab, which is commonly worn in Arab countries of the Persian Gulf, does not reek of ignorance to me. It’s an interesting take on the prevalent rationale based on the Quran and Hadith, where the many wives of the Prophet Muhammad were made to cover themselves in the company of other men. However, the verses do not clearly refer to covering the face itself, and many have argued that full-face veiling is a custom that has nothing to do with the Islamic faith.

As they witness less-covered women in “burkinis? swimming in the hotel pool and belly dancers in revealing costume in the hotel nightclub, Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda—and probably most of their audience—gradually learn more about the varying standards of acceptable dress for Muslim women today. In perhaps the film’s strongest statement of female empowerment, the ladies do a group rendition of Helen Reddy’s classic “I Am Woman? during a night of karaoke. The number gets the entire club on its feet, with women of all backgrounds (predominately Muslim women) emphatically singing, “Oh yes, I am wise/But it’s wisdom born of pain/Yes, I’ve paid the price/But look how much I gained.?

While the ladies—all highly educated and successful career women—come across as a little too naive throughout their trip to Abu Dhabi, their honest (and common) questions are refreshing. That’s until we’re given by far the most ridiculous scene of the film (and actually, the entire series). Samantha, suffering from the combined effects of menopause (hot flashes), being arrested for indecent exposure on the beach and the stifling heat of the desert country, gets into a tug of war with a crooked merchant who believes she’s stolen a bag from him (when in fact it’s her own, very expensive, Birkin bag). As they pull the bag back and forth the strap breaks, and to everyone’s horror, Samantha—already dressed provocatively in a tank top and mini-shorts—goes wild like a banshee. “Condoms! Condoms! See them?!?!? she yells to the shocked crowd as the bag’s contents spill onto the street. “I have sex! I love sex!? While the vignette is meant to be comical, the disrespect of the entire scene is almost too overwhelming to watch. Samantha, Carrie Charlotte and Miranda are then led by women dressed in abaya (cultural dress) into a private room. The women have come together for their American-themed “book club,? where they’re reading the latest self-help guide from American actress Suzanne Somers. To show solidarity with the girls from New York, they pull their all-black robes off to display similar high-fashion designer clothes. This entire scene is born of stereotypes. While the intention of the message may have been “we are all the same,? unfortunately, it comes across as a condescending statement devoid of any cultural awareness.

Cynthia Nixon, who plays cynical lawyer Miranda Hobbs in the series, was asked about some critics’ negative response to the portrayal of Middle Eastern women in the film on the Today show last week. She replied, “I think it’s crazy. There’s a lot of love for the Middle East [in the film]. I think there’s a lot of looking at the similarities between us and the women of the Middle East and also the differences.?

That may be true. However, a storyline focusing on one of their Abu Dhabi counterparts might have done the trick a little better, instead of viewing the complex female experience in the Islamic world through the eyes of privileged Western women.

Queer Arabs?

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Although I’m not happy about it, they have the second largest “Gay Pride” parade in the world right here in Toronto. (The biggest is in San Francisco…… naturally!)

At this moment there is a raging debate over a group who calls themselves ‘Queers Against Israeli Apartheid’ over whether they should be allowed to march in the parade or not!

The use of the slogan has put the Pride organizers on a collision course with the City of Toronto, which says the name of the group violates its anti-discrimination policy.

(Other pride sponsors, Jewish advocacy groups and some Toronto mayoral candidates have expressed their displeasure since the city gave the Pride festival $121,000 to help defray costs.)

But now, the decision by organizers to ban the group has led to other activists in the gay and lesbian community denouncing the action as censorship!

“Our decision to restrict the use of the words “Israeli Apartheid” was not made easily, independently, or absent of a commitment to respectful expression,” Pride organizers said in a news release.”Let us be clear, criticism of Israeli government policy is legitimate. However, the atmosphere created by the use of the words “Israeli Apartheid” in the last three years of the Pride festival are not.”

On Monday, about 20 former grand marshalls of the Pride parade returned their awards as part of the growing protest.

Elle Flanders, a member of the group, says the decision flies in the face of an organization that is based on “free speech and of democracy, and of trying to win our rights to speech.”

“They have to an extent betrayed the community,” said gay activist Gareth Henry, “and have betrayed me personally — my trust in Pride and what Pride stands for.”

Well I don’t know about you folks, but unless all Palestinians are gay……………, I don’t know what “Gay Pride” has to do with Israel!

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Help gay Muslims ‘ease into’ civil society

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Last night (2010.06.07), author/autobiographeuse, apostate, defender of freedom, fashion plate, and polyglot Ayaan Hirsi Ali visited Toronto on her book tour. She was observable in her natural state – surrounded by protection from Muslims who want her dead.

During Q&A, I asked: “I have read of violent anti-gay attacks, allegedly by recent Islamic immigrants, in countries like the Netherlands and Norway.? She was looking right at me. She looks right at everyone she talks to no matter who they are or what they think of her. Nerves of steel. “In Canada and the United States, in your opinion under what circumstances should a gay or lesbian person support Muslims or Islam?? I asked, using the pluperfect pronunciation of “Muslims.?

A gay or lesbian person should never support Islam, she said immediately, because it is anti-gay. But such a person should support gay or lesbian Muslims, to “ease them? into civil society. Islam is opposed to homosexuality, she continued. The Koranic admonition to throw a homosexual off the top of the tallest building was one thing in Mohammed’s time when that was only a few feet, “but now we have the Sears Tower. So that is obviously a dealbreaker,? Ali said to chuckles and applause from the crowd.

I gave her a little bow of the head – in the Orientalist style, to use the term in various senses. It is pleasing to be treated like royalty by someone who, in a just universe, actually would be.

Gay rights should not be harnessed to an Islamophobic agenda

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In a brilliant exposé the Guardian reported how a lone man held up a pink triangle at a demonstration of the English Defence League – one of the most openly anti-immigrant and Islamophobic organisations in the country. When the reporter asked him what it was for he replied nervously: “This is the symbol gay people were made to wear under Hitler. Islam poses the same threat and we are here to express our opposition to that.”

Given fascism’s history of violent and outspoken homophobia, the news that the EDL would have a 115-strong lesbian, gay and transgender wing would appear, at the very least, incongruous.

But in fact it just the most glaring example of the misguided and ill-informed shift in our nationalist discourse that has moved the emphasis from creed to culture and race to religion in a bid to erect a moral rampart between the a mythological modern, enlightened, progressive west and the demonised medieval, backward, bigoted south. Far from being a contradiction confined to the far right, these issues have taken on totemic significance in the mainstream in the broadside against both multiculturalism in general and non-European immigration in particular as though they were inimicable with the principles of social equality.

Gay Turkish Baths in Istanbul

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We are not listing most of the gay/cruisy Turkish baths here upon the requests of their owners, because they can still be closed-down by an obsolete law which forbids sexual-action in public places. (This law has nothing to do with the gay action specifically, and it does not have any punishment for the individuals involved, but is still a reason to close the venue for a specific period. In recent years, there has been extra pressure over gay-action places including bath houses and saunas. In fact, majority of the senior gay-friendly bath houses have been closed down completely since 2007 as a result of a systematic campaign headed by local authorities. These hamams had been popular meeting places for Istanbullu local gay-men o for decades.

There are now a few hamams/bath-housed left where gay men are still welcomed, which are not very centrally located, hidden on some back-streets. So, it is recommend to find these places by asking the other gay people you meet in gay bars, clubs or other gay venues.

Visitor feedbacks:
“This is about Park Hamam (changed name) along Divanyolu. I had a really bed experience there, though its now assumedly a family hamam with both men and women than being explicitly gay. it say 1.5 hours@ 60LTR when technically was 20mın MAX for a shower w. a foam rub, and 20 minutes for an oil massage. The guy who gave me a foam bath himself had a shower for 15 min, which was interesting. …….. On top of that when I tried to give feedback, the owner was defensive and vocal. I would never recommend anyone to this place though ideally its the best location in a touristy area like Sultanahmet.” (15/05/2009)
Editor’s note: This bath house is still being listed on some websites and some guide books as gay/gay friendly venue, but its has changed its name and concept totally since 2004.

Historical (NON-GAY) Turkish baths
Following hamams are not gay hamam, but are recommended to people who wants to experience the atmosphere of a real historical & traditions Turkish bath.

Galatasaray Hamam
Opening Hours: 08:00 am-10:00 pm
Address: Turnacibasi Sokak 24 Beyoglu, Istanbul +90 212 2524242
This hamam was used exclusively by men for almost 500 years. This all changed in 1963 with the addition of a small section for women. However, aside from this little addition, not much else has been altered. It was originally built in 1481 during the reign of Beyazit II and contains many pretty details, such as the intricate tile work at the entrance to the steam room in the men’s section. One major feature here are the marble slabs where bathers can be massaged in semi-privacy rather than on the heated central navel stone. The admission price includes a full service, including massage. Admission fee is around 20 Euro (massage excluded)
Web: www.galatasarayhamami.com

Visitor feedbacks:
“I’ve visited Galatasaray hamam recently and I can give only good feedback. The staff was pretty polite, everything was clean and professional. No gay actions as i could seen. There are 4 semi private bath rooms where you can go with someone and possibly have some action but that’s all. I have to mention that full service costs about 40 Euros, not 20 as you mentioned here. Anyway it was worth visiting it” (Posted by Igor from Austria on January 13, 2010)

Cagaloglu Hamam
Cagaloglu Hamam (“hamam” means Turkish bath) was built about 300 years ago on an area of 2834 sq.mt It is considered the last sample of its category and the architectural design is astonishing. It is open everyday. The bathing hours for men are 07:00 – 22:00 and for women 08:00 – 20:00 hours. It also has a café as famous as itself.
Address: Prof. Kazim Ismail Gurkan Caddesi 34, Cagaloglu (Across from the Iranian Consulate) Phone: (212) 522 24 24
Web: www.cagalogluhamami.com.tr

Cemberlitas Hamam
This hamam built in 1584 was also very popular among the Ottoman Sultans. It is considered to be one of the most important examples of 16th century Ottoman architecture.
Address: Vezirhan Caddesi 8, Cemberlitas Phone: +90(212) 520 18 50
Web: www.cemberlitashamami.com.tr

Suleymaniye Hamam

Suleymaniye Hamam is a part of Suleymaniye Mosque’s Complex which incorporate the art and genius of Architect Sinan, the greatness and strength of the Ottomans and the beauty and elegance of Istanbul. This is the only historical bath house in Istanbul where men and women can go in together.
Adres: Mimar Sinan Cad. No: 20, Suleymaniye, Fatih, Istanbul. Phone: +90 212 520 34 10
Web: www.suleymaniyehamami.com.tr

What is a Hamam ?

Scrubbing massage in Turkish Bath

The Turkish hammam (also Turkish bath or hamam) is the Middle Eastern variant of a steam bath, which can be categorized as a wet relative of the sauna. They had played an important role in cultures of the Middle-East, serving as places of social gathering, ritual cleansing and as architectural structures, institutions, and (later) elements with special customs attached to them. Europeans learned about the Hammam via contacts with Turkey hence the European name for it: “Turkish” hammam.

Taking a Turkish bath firstly involves relaxing in a room (known as the warm room) that is heated by a continuous flow of hot dry air allowing the bather to perspire freely. Bathers may then move to an ever hotter room (known as the hot room) before splashing themselves with cold water. After performing a full body wash and receiving a massage, bathers finally retire to the cooling-room for a period of relaxation.

In Turkey, the advent of modern plumbing systems, showers, and bathtubs in homes caused the importance of hammams to fade in recent times.

A typical hammam consists of three interconnected basic rooms similar to its Roman ancestors: the sicaklik (or hararet -caldarium) which is the hot room, the warm room (tepidarium) which is the intermediate room and the sogukluk which is the cool room. The sicaklik usually has a large dome decorated with small glass windows that create a half-light; it also contains a large marble stone at the center that the customers lie on, and niches with fountains in the corners.

“Sex & the (Islamic) City 2″: Ugly American-ettes v. Glamorous “Ugly? Muslims

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Ba-dum-bum-ch.

Yup, my two jokes about this movie are funnier than most of the really bad, sex-laden puns and vulgarities that populate this cheesy, annoying waste of time. The movie–which mostly took place at a gay wedding in New York and a trip to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (actually, filmed in Morocco)–had so many dumb R-rated double entendres and was so punny unfunny (?Bedouin Bath & Beyond?–haha, funny), it felt as if it was written by senior citizen pornographers who started a second career as bad nightclub act comedians in the Catskills. Blechhh. This horrible movie makes the first “Sex and the City? movie (read my review)–which I hated–look like Shakespeare.

Also, I didn’t know for whom to root: the ugly Americans who are the female (at least, I think they’re “shes?) embodiment of everything the Islamic world claims is bad about us, or the sleazy Muslim phonies the movie tries to tell us are so charming, luxe, stylish and uber-modest. Yes, the movie does take some satisfying digs at the uber-intolerant Muslims, but only at their prudishness, which isn’t the most accurate or even objectionable part of Islam or the Gulf States and the Middle East. And just because a movie makes statements about the obvious, while still mostly glamorizing Abu Dhabi, doesn’t make it a great movie. This is Exhibit A that it’s otherwise.

So, what is the movie about? I wasn’t quite sure, other than to watch ugly, aging women in gaudy clothes and make-up bitch, whine, and moan at and about their husbands, jobs, and nannies, and then try to have sex in the Middle East, after hanging out at the most painful-to-watch gay wedding. Memo to gay men: this film didn’t do ya any favors. The gay wedding was the most atrociously gaudy, corny thing ever, filled with every gay steretype in the book, including Liza Minnelli performing the Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies? with two Liza impersonators. And did they really have to impress upon us that one of the gays in the wedding is a Jew, and pervert every wedding tradition of my religion into a gay circus?

I’m not sure which was worse–the gay wedding or the scene of the four women singing feminist anthem, “I Am Woman,? during karaoke at a club in Abu Dhabi. If these four “are woman,? G-d help us. There ain’t no roar here. Just a lot of kvetching.

When the gay wedding is over, we see a whole bunch of Sarah Jessica Parker whining, nagging, and bitching at her husband (yup, that’s the unbliss of hetero marriage the filmmakers want you to see versus the gaudy-but-pleasant love of the gays). She’s mad that her husband, “Mr. Big,? wants to stay in, eat take-out, and watch TV. Oh, and he put his feet on their expensive couch. She scolds him that “there’s no sparkle,? whatever that means. And, of course, at the end she’s bought off with “sparkle?–a giant diamond. Yaaawn. Watch “Divorce Court.? It’s more creative.

Ditto for the gratuitous “wet t-shirt contest?-style scenes of Charlotte’s bra-less nanny. I guess that was thrown in for the few moron guys who aren’t man enough to get out of being forced to sit through this sad flick with their girlfriends and wives.

And then when that stuff gets tiresome, the girls go on an all-expense paid trip to Abu Dhabi, courtesy of Sheikh Khalid, an Abu Dhabi royal who hires publicist Samantha to do wonders for his emirate. “It’s the NEW Middle East,? he tells her. “I can hear the decadence calling,? one of the “Sex? hags later declares. They’re so impressed by their luxe airplane accommodations, which are so ugly and gaudy they resemble Saddam Hussein’s palace. “Pringles in Arabic.? Are Hollywood’s Americans that dumb that they think these Islamic barbarians don’t have American products with Arabic stamped on them? Is it that impressive? Here’s a tip: American foods and clothing (especially if, in some cases, it’s underneath a niqab–the Islamic full-ninja face veil) doesn’t make you moderate. It doesn’t mean you’re any less an extremist.

And guess what? There’s Hebrew Bazooka bubble gum, too. Hey, maybe they should do a movie. I guarantee no one in Tel Aviv or Eilat will arrest Samantha for kissing in public.

Once in Abu Dhabi, the women are chauffeured around in their own personal Maybachs, feted by their own personal butlers, and hosted in a giant set of suites occupying an entire floor. They’re shown drinking alcohol all over the place (an Islamic no-no), and dazzled that an Islamic woman’s niqab (again, the full-Ninja face-veil) is decorated with fashionable embroidery. One of the characters, Miranda tells us:

Younger Muslims are accepting old traditions in new and personal ways.

Yeah, whatever. Tell it to all the women who’ve been honor-killed for being too Western and all the child brides who–well, I’d love to see how they accept old traditions in “new and personal ways.?

And, of course, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) runs into her past love and former fiance, Aiden. Because–don’t you know?!–all lost loves are found in Abu Dhabis souk (Arab market). And when she loses her American passport in the confusion, the kindly Muslim shop-owner saves her passport and returns it to her, days later. Because, in the Muslim Mid-East, they’d NEVER sell your American passport and copy it a million times, right? The shop owner is so nice and so honest, he won’t even take a small tip for saving her passport. Yup, that’s so like the Arab market, isn’t it? Hey, Hollywood, stop exoticizing the Arab street. It’s neither as charming in real life nor as magical as you want us to believe. Not even close.

Even though we’re shown that Abu Dhabi natives are prudes, sex is mostly glamorized in Abu Dhabi in this movie. A handsome Dutch architect tells Samantha that Abu Dhabi makes him “feel like a boy again,? because in Paris he’d already have his hand down her shirt but here he must be restrained and take things slow.

Eventually, the women learn that Abu Dhabi isn’t actually the Western sex paradise they thought. Samantha gets arrested for kissing on the beach. Their luxe trip is suddenly no longer on Sheikh Khalid’s tab, and they have to leave Abu Dhabi.

Charlotte, a convert to Judaism has a passport in her waspy maiden name and not her husband’s Jewish surname. When she’s asked why by Sarah Jessica Parker’s character, Carrie Bradshaw, it’s clear she gets it. That’s where some of the rare, great dialogue and lines in this movie–which are few and far in between–come in:

Carrie: York? What happened to Goldenblatt? It’s the “new Middle East.?

Charlotte: It’s the Middle East.

Carrie: It’s the new Middle East.

Charlotte: It’s. the. Middle. East.

In the end, when they are in the Arab market, again, trying to get Carrie’s passport, Samantha’s purse drops and condoms fall out, just as Muslim men are answering the call to prayer. The men get very angry. But I wasn’t sure for whom to root–the vulgar slut or them. It was like my many “Feuds I Wish Would Go On Forever & That Both Sides Would Lose.?

“Yes, I have sex!? she shouts at them. “I have sex! I have sex! I have sex!? I laughed, but at both her and her Muslim antagonists. She’s a disgusting whore, and they are vile anti-Western creatures who–in real life–would sleep with her if they could get away with it. Ultimately, the women sneak away in full-ninja niqab face veils and robes to get away. But not before we’re shown the “moderate? Muslim women who help them. Those women open their robes to reveal high-fashion low-cut outfits from designers in New York. Is this supposed to mean sisterhood? Does Hollywood not know that the most anti-Western, anti-Semitic, prudish wives of emirate Sheikhs and merchants are Fifth Avenue’s biggest customers? Sorry, chicks, but haute couture doesn’t mean you’re not an Islamo-Nazi. It just means you’re a rich one.

Like I said, this movie takes a couple of digs at Abu Dhabi and Muslims after almost two hours of glamorizing both and denigrating American women as sex-crazed nutjobs. And that’s not enough. It also didn’t make it watching this utter monstrosity. (Sorry, but watching Muslim Arabs singing Foreigner’s “It Feels Like the First Time? at a karaoke bar ain’t my idea of fun.)

Sitting through all the bad jokes, crotch-cams, naked men’s butts, crying melodrama, and other vulgar stupidity (not to mention bad Arabic pronunciation) isn’t my idea of how to spend ten bucks and nearly three hours. I’ve said it before–when I reviewed the first “Sex and the City? movie: these four women are dirty guys in ugly, aging women’s bodies covered in expensive bad clothes.

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Elton John’s slated to perform today in Morocco, and conservative Muslims aren’t thrilled with the prospect:

“This singer is famous for his homosexual behavior and for advocating it,” said Mustapha Ramid, a leader and spokesman for the PJD, the biggest opposition party with 40 lawmakers in parliament.

Despite the brouhaha, Moroccan gay rights leaders claim that the country is one of the most forward-thinking in the Muslim world:

A sign of Morocco’s evolution, Taia said, is the creation of a new local word to describe homosexuality in Arabic: “Mithly,” replacing the pejorative usual phrase of “an act against nature.”

I fail to see how anyone could object to the harmonious, existential lessons of “Circle of Life.” Encouragingly, Moroccan officials have told John to go ahead and claim, “I’m Still Standing.”

Is Zuma serious about protecting gay rights? | Radio Netherlands Worldwide

1 June 2010

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South African President Jacob Zuma’s condemnation of Malawi’s decision to jail a gay couple has been welcomed as a breakthrough in views on homosexuality on the African continent. But although a major international gay rights organisation has welcomed his statement, it says Mr Zuma may merely have been saying what the international community wants to hear.

Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were engaged to be married when they were arrested and charged with indecency and sodomy offences. Last week, the couple were jailed for 14 years each, in a decision the United States condemned as “unconscionable?. On Thursday, South African leader Jacob Zuma joined the chorus of criticism, saying: “We have condemned the action taken to arrest people in terms of our constitution.” But he didn’t urge Malawi to change its law on homosexuality.

Cautious optimism
The International Lesbian, Gay, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) was cautiously optimistic. General Secretary Renato Sabbadini said: “The fact he expresses he is very concerned is, on the one hand, positive and certainly welcome but, on the other hand, considering former statements by the same President concerning, for instance, gay organisations a month ago… I think considering his past, this kind of declaration by him needs to be assessed against the facts.?

Jacob Zuma’s comments come against the backdrop of increasing hostility towards homosexuals in Africa, as a number of countries increase criminal sanctions against gays and lesbians. Last week, Zimbabwe arrested two prominent gay rights activists, and there has been a similar crackdown in Uganda. Last year, Zambia’s vice-president George Kunda urged journalists to report homosexuals to the police.

Courting the media
But Sabbadini says there has been a recent tendency in certain African nations to condemn homophobia in order to win the sympathy of the international media. He highlights Uganda as an example of this, saying the government distanced itself from a proposed bill against gays and lesbians to avoid losing out on support from the international community, and warned that Zuma’s statement on Thursday could have been made for similar motives:

“It’s difficult to understand whether these are statements just made to appease the international community because they fear bigger consequences like loss in aid programmes and development… or if there is a genuine will into looking at their own legal systems to really put in place measures to abolish those infamous laws which still today persecute gay and lesbian people.?

North-South divide
Morocco’s decision to host a concert earlier this week by the openly gay singer Elton John is a positive sign for the North African country, says Sabbadini, but shouldn’t be seen as a move towards greater tolerance on the whole continent: “What happens in Morocco might have more consequences, or be of more interest, in North Africa and the Middle east… It will be interesting to monitor the Arab media in the next weeks,” he said.

Gay father of twins to be allowed back into Israel this week

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A gay man with twin sons born to a surrogate mother in India is to be allowed to return to his native Israel this week after being stranded in a Mumbai hotel for the past two months because of the Ministry of the Interior’s refusal to issue a paternity test.

Under Israeli law, native parents of all children born abroad are required to undergo a DNA test to prove that they are the biological parents. This is a prerequiste for the childrens’ naturalisation as Israeli citizens.

However, Dan Goldberg, 42, was initially prevented from taking the test by Judge Philip Marcus who said he lacked the jurisdiction to issue a court order for Mr Goldberg to take the test, despite the fact that dozens of family courts have issued similar decrees in the past. The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office also said they could see no reason why Mr Goldberg shouldn’t take a paternity test. Additionally, Judge Marcus has also delayed the decrees in two other instances of gay couples from Jerusalem expecting children via surrogate means. Judge Marcus defended his decision, saying that he was following the state protocol: “If it turns out that one of these [purported fathers] sitting here is a pedophile or serial killer, these are things that the state must examine.”

However, last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the issue with the Interior Ministry and the descision was reached to allow Mr Goldberg and his family to return to their country. The infants’ paternity test finally arrived at the Sheba Medical Centre outside Tel Aviv on Tueday and authorities took the decision to allow Mr Goldberg and his sons to return without even knowing the results.

Mr Goldberg, a 42-year-old Jerusalem restaurateur, said to Haaretz.com: “This is a state of contradictions. I’m an Israeli citizen. I served in two intifadas and still serve in the reserves. . . but when I want to realise my right to be a parent, the state kicks me to the curb.”

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