Feb 18 2011

 

 

Time_for_change-8371 

Doug Ireland, a long time legendary journalist, has written the best article yet on the LGBT presence in the Egyptian Revolution. Writing for the New York Gay City News , Ireland writes through the voice of a young 22 year old gay blogger knows as the Ice Queen. His article, "A Gay Voice from Tahrir Square" is a must read. Here are some key excerpts:

“On 11th of February, I was in Tahrir Square after Friday’s prayers,” he told this reporter, “and it was very peaceful as on most of the protests’ days. Shortly before the announcement of Omar Suleiman, I was on my way with my friends to grab a bite to eat from a place that’s about ten minutes away from the square, and while we were in the middle of that distance we heard a very loud cheer and cars joyfully tooting their horns. We couldn’t believe it because there was a ‘false alarm’ before, so we called our families for confirmation and we couldn’t have been happier!”

Unlike the previous day’s unrealized rumors that Mubarak would step down that evening, which had sent the square’s throngs into paroxysms of joy, Suleiman’s announcement on February 11 was for real.

“When we went back to the square, we were amazed!,” Ice Queer continued. “People were all hugging and congratulating each other, chanting ‘People indeed removed the system,’ ‘There is no people like the Egyptian people,’ and that ‘Mubarak should be prosecuted’. All the women started to do the popular Zaghrouta (ululation), some people were crying with joy, and some were dancing. Basically everyone was expressing his/ her joy the way he/ she knows to!

“For me, I was having goosebumps all of the time after Mubarak quit! I kept dancing and chanting with my friends and called my boyfriend to share the moment with him too.”

"Ice Queen" (who is an medical student in his internship) faced fear and terror living under the dictatorship as a gay man and Ireland writes:

"In contrast to the vast majority of Egyptian men who have sex with men — he guesses that “maybe five percent” of whom are out of the closet — Ice Queer self-identifies as gay and is out to his parents and friends, and frequently blogs on gay themes.

Homosexuals under Mubarak’s dictatorship lived under a cloud of fear, marked by waves of intensifying repression. A defining event in the regime’s crackdown was the May 11, 2001 arrest of the men known as the Cairo 52, when police raided a gay party being held aboard a floating nightclub, the Queen Boat, anchored in the Nile.

Although homosexuality is not strictly illegal in Egypt, of the 52 men arrested on the Queen Boat, 50 were charged with “habitual debauchery” and “obscene behavior” under Article 9c of Law No. 10 of 1961 on the Combat of Prostitution. The other two were charged with “contempt of religion” under Article 98f of the Penal Code. These laws have regularly been used to prosecute Egyptian gays, as has the Emergency Law — in place since Mubarak assumed the helm in the wake of Anwar Sadat’s assassination in 1981 – which gives the government the right to arrest people without charge, detain prisoners indefinitely, limit freedom of expression and assembly, and maintain a special security court.

The Cairo 52 were brutally beaten and tortured by police. In a series of hugely publicized trials — during which the uniformly homophobic Egyptian media sensationalized the Queen Boat incident and vilified the men arrested — nearly half of them received prison terms of three years. During the same crackdown, all gay websites were closed down, either by censorship of the Internet or by the arrest of those who ran them."