LGBTQ in Lebanon – Lebanon is considered more liberal than many other countries in the Middle East -- yet equality for the LGBTQ community is still a sensitive topic. Across the capital Beirut, individuals are exploring different ways for the LGBTQ community to express themselves or fight for their rights. Hoedy Saad first came into contact with voguing seven years ago. The elaborate dance form emerged in New York City in the 1980s, and is closely associated with the drag culture there, as well as the wider LGBTQ community.
LGBTQ in Lebanon – Saad taught himself how to vogue, and started holding classes in Beirut four years ago. "I still don't consider myself a professional ... but I am good enough to spread this culture and teach it to my community here in Lebanon," he says.
LGBTQ in Lebanon – Saad says he teaches all elements of voguing to his students. "I am the first to take voguing seriously in the Middle East and brought it to the community and worked on spreading it," he says.
LGBTQ in Lebanon – Saad says the reactions to his classes have been very positive, thanks to the country being "more liberal" than other Arab nations. "Lebanon is more accepting to LGBTQ issues, but we are still not that open compared to European countries," he adds.
LGBTQ in Lebanon – He says he doesn't find being queer to be much of a struggle in Lebanon -- though there are different factors that affect that. "First, it depends on where you live. Second, it depends on your approach to people and how you make your surroundings accept you."
LGBTQ in Lebanon – In 2017, Beirut Pride took place for the first time. It consisted of a series of social and cultural events, aimed at raising awareness about the rights of the community.
LGBTQ in Lebanon – However, in the 2018 edition of Beirut Pride, its initiator Hadi Damien was detained, and events were canceled.
LGBTQ in Lebanon – Damien was released and he says the events were reinstated. "We didn't start it to stop at the first obstacle, and obstacles are part of the path," he says.
LGBTQ in Lebanon – "People are attacked when they are visible, when they are organized. People attack out of fear and misunderstanding," says Damien. Beirut Pride is working to address misrepresentation of homosexuality.