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“The meeting was fixed for nightfall at one of Gaza City’s beachfront restaurants. The place is almost empty. Sami (not his real name) sits at a table, looking hesitant. He only starts speaking after the waiter has left us. “I had to get married so as not to damage my family’s reputation,” the 40-year-old Gazan whispers. “My mother put pressure on me, told me she wanted to have grandchildren. Before I married my first wife I told her, ‘Mom, I’m gay.’ She started laughing. I insisted. So she looked me right in the eye and ordered me never to say that again. After the divorce, I told her everything again. ‘Show people you’re straight,’ she replied. I thought: I’ll do my best.”
Sami first knew he was gay at the age of 7. He has lived a clandestine life ever since, using Viagra when he needs to pretend to be straight. Married twice already, he often dreams of what life could be like outside the coastal enclave.
To be gay in the “world’s largest open-air prison” has been a constant struggle, he says. Whereas LGBTQ Palestinians living in Israel or the West Bank have the opportunity to leave their conservative towns and villages to find relatively safe spaces in Haifa, Tel Aviv-Jaffa or even Ramallah, Gazans are trapped in what he calls a “homophobic society.””
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"The likely successor to British Prime Minister Theresa May, Boris Johnson, has plans to subsume the government department overseeing development aid into the foreign office, effectively eliminating it. That will destroy a post-Brexit United..."
"Gerard Baker, editor-at-large at the Wall Street Journal (no reflexively anti-Trump publication) recently wrote a piece decrying Donald Trump and his foreign policy as a fount of erratic unpredictability. This essay will give the counter view...."
"On Wednesday, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar announced that she will be visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories in the coming weeks. Omar will be accompanied by Rep. Rashida Tlaib. The two freshman congresswomen have become a focal point of..."
"Netflix may have lost US subscribers for the first time since it began making its own shows, but that didn't stop the streaming giant from dropping new figures about how many people are sucked into its Adam Sandler vortex. (Spoiler: More than..."
"A few years ago, Amy Balliett, CEO of a Seattle-based design and marketing firm, noticed that as the work week slogged on, her employees’ energy and productivity wilted. “That would slump to such an extent that the same task on Monday would..."
"Over the last few days the #faceappchallenge has taken over social media. This “challenge” involves downloading a selfie-editing tool called FaceApp and using one of its filters to digitally age your face. You then post the photo of your wizened..."
"Although there are plenty of irrational aspects to life in modern America, few rival the odd fixation on lawns. Fertilizing, mowing, watering — these are all-American activities that, on their face, seem reasonable enough. But to spend hundreds..."
"Can a book change the way we think? I don’t mean that in the sense of a reader’s opinion or ideology shifting—of course the right literary work can do that. But can a book rewire the brain itself, literally changing the way one particular mind..."
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"Magali Trejo-Martinez, a 22-year-old living in Salem, Oregon, recently went on a date that was rather uninspiring. “I had dinner, had a couple margaritas, and then went home,” is how she recapped the evening. This outcome wasn’t entirely..."
"The first lunar landing was many things — a D-Day-like feat of planning and logistics, a testament to the power of man's will, an ostensible propaganda coup for NATO. It was also, I think, one of the most misunderstood events in the history of..."
"THE FIRST TIME Bernie Sanders ran for president, he didn’t talk much about being Jewish. In fact, he didn’t talk much about himself at all. His 2016 primary campaign, like his whole political career, was relentlessly focused on one topic: income..."