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The Queer Arabs

Author: Alia, Ellie, Ahmed, Nadia and Adam

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Some queer Arabs run a podcast together!
234 Episodes
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We’re back with an episode with Alia, Ellie, and Nadia talking about: – An incredible show Nadia saw called LINES about the interconnected histories of Palestine, Uganda, and the UK through prison systems  – Participating in Palestine protests and college encampments around us (and how college students are doing a better job of building a movement as they go than most of us) – Why protests and direct action can sometimes be *good* for mental health, actually – Nadia’s organizing work with @dancers_for_palestine – Anti-BDS laws, anti-protest laws, and anti-bail fund laws across the US – Alia goes to @laylitparty…
Hannah Moushabeck is a second-generation Palestinian American author, editor, and book marketer. She is the author of Homeland: My Father Dreams of Palestine, a children’s book about three girls who experience Palestine through bedtime stories. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts on the homelands of the Pocumtuc and Nipmuc Nations. Hannah talks about growing up in  New York, Massachusetts, and the UK while her family ran an Arab independent publishing house. She discusses how representation in children’s books has and hasn’t changed since her childhood, with a clear uptick in queer stories but very few Palestinian stories. Hannah recounts the variety…
Yaffa is a trans displaced Palestinian activist, engineer, death and birthing doula, peer support specialist, and artist. They are the Executive Director of Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity and recently released their book of poetry Blood Orange, raising funds for queer and trans Palestinian work.  In this episode, Yaffa reads a poem from Blood Orange, and we reflect on the cognitive dissonance of diaspora, wondering “which cut from your paycheck killed your cousin.” Yaffa discusses their work in peer support, and how we can find alternatives to an individualized, compartmentalized, escapist framing of self care, witnessing each other’s…
Lamya H., author of Hijab Butch Blues, joined us for a wonderful episode! Lamya talks about the line between invisibility and hypervisibility as a brown person in hijab in the US, alternatively overlooked or policed. She discusses her path into Queer Muslim community as well as her mixed experiences in both Arab and Desi spaces as someone born in a South Asian country who grew up in the Gulf. We also talk about the differences between culturally- and religiously-specific queer communities and the issues with policing borders around identity.  They also mention how quickly Queer Muslim communities have become more…
Finlay Sarafa McHale is a queer Iraqi/Chaldean-American clinical social worker currently facilitating a free peer support group for queer SWANA people. They joined us for a wonderful conversation about how mental healthcare can be a tool for political liberation rather than means of detaching from it.  Finlay discusses censorship and Zionism in the mental health field, the challenges of developing culturally responsive practices in a profession with white-centric roots, and the myth of therapy as apolitical. They explain how traditionally strict expectations of “non-disclosure” regarding therapists’ personal or political perspectives can widen the power gap between therapist and client and…
Leila Mire is a PhD candidate in Performance Studies at UC Berkeley, as well as a dancer, choreographer, organizer, and sometimes disorganized person. She researches Palestinian dance and the role of dance in US and Israeli cultural imperialism. We discuss the misleading implications of certain “coexistence art” which locates interpersonal prejudice as the source of conflict while deliberately glossing over systemic inequality. As Leila puts it, while art can build bridges, a bridge built on uneven ground is just a dysfunctional seesaw.  We also talk about Martha Graham, cultural appropriation as a foundation of US modern dance, the Cold War-era…
We got to have Amina Shareef Ali back for another episode!  She was on the podcast all the way back in January 2021 (episode 147), and we now had a wonderful conversation about her upcoming album, In the Dark (Awake of Course), volume 2. In this episode, Amina describes the throughlines of the tracks, who was involved in the making of the album (shout out to Radical Folksonomy!), and the parts of her life this album draws from. The tracks explore themes of heartbreak and redemption, and living and loving boldly with integrity.  Cristy Road made the album cover, seen…
We were joined by the wonderful Bijhan Agha, a Persian-American author and creator living in Uruguay. Bijhan talked about her wonderful creation, Kobra Olympus.  Kobra is a trans, lesbian hijabi superhero with adventures that can be accessed and followed by you all if you get the comic when it comes out!  In this episode, Bijhan and Ellie dive in to some comic book history and discuss some of the nods to some older work by Kobra, as well as the many factors that make the Kobra comic so unique. We also talk about what led Bijhan and her partner to…
We start off this episode by asking an AI to write a script for our podcast and doing a reading (did the AI get it right?) Then we talk about our actual lives. We discuss the legal attacks on trans rights in several Southern US states, plus some random transphobes at Waffle House. We commiserate about the challenges and doubts we’ve been encountering surrounding our respective careers. We also talk about how (queer) bar culture and etiquette have shifted due to dating apps, Buc-ees, squirrels, and the new Zelda game.
( See a walkthrough of Noor’s exhibit here! Hayati – My Life/My Love ) Noor Aldayeh is a visual artist from Los Angeles, California. She is an Honors Film and Media student at Emory University minoring in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality studies, and acts as a student photographer for the Office of Belonging Community and Justice at the university. Our conversation centered around Noor’s thesis project ​​”Hayati (حياتي) – My Life / My Love,” an archive of queer, Middle Eastern and North African women and gender non-conforming-individuals across the US photographed alongside their personal safe spaces.  Noor discusses what drew…
Alma Doumani is the bassist for Slave to Sirens, an all-women thrash metal band from Lebanon that gained international attention through the documentary Sirens, which depicts the lives of the band members over three years. Outside of music, Alma is also a photographer and video producer.  In the episode, Alma talks us through her love for the complexity of metal music, how she got connected to the band, and how the documentary process started with a Facebook message from Rita Baghdadi. She also describes what it was like to have such pivotal moments in her and her bandmates’ lives thoroughly…
Rayan Afif is a multi-media artist and theater maker of Egyptian and Lebanese descent making work that envisions queer SWANA futures. Rayan discussed some of their visual art which depicts dream physical spaces—including a mana’eesh cafe and queer SWANA drag race—and the importance of online community spaces when physical ones are not available. They also described their journey into playwriting and some of their theater projects, including a play exploring the effects of the Beirut explosion on two sisters, a historical fiction piece about a queer Egyptian in the 1950s (researched by interviewing their grandmother and great-grandmother), and an interactive…
In this episode, we caught up with Rana Fayez, an Arab, non-binary, arts producer, musician/sound artist, DJ, archivist, and founder of YallaPunk. Rana told us how they started YallaPunk in 2016 in response to political attacks on the SWANA community and how the organization has evolved since then, including the festivals, language practice groups, pandemic-era community kitchen, residencies, and pop-up events. They also talked about the mental health tolls of being in a quasi-community-organizer role, the unrealistic expectations placed on individuals with a moderately-sized public platform, and how they’ve learned to set boundaries around their time, energy, and social media…
Episode 200 [in English]!

Episode 200 [in English]!

2023-01-0401:04:27

It’s our 200th episode! Alia, Ellie, and Nadia celebrate with a deep and messy group chat. We recall the early days of the podcast and some tough lessons about trust learned along the way. Then we discuss the World Cup, the brief resurgence of pan-Arabism surrounding the Moroccan team, and what we think of discourse on migrant workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights, and alcohol in Qatar. We talk about how frustrating our mental healthcare system can be when it comes to seeking non-emergency support, and what’s missing from the “check on your friends” memos. We also vague-cast (the podcast equivalent of…
Sarah Bitar is an actor, writer, and teaching artist from Lebanon. Since graduating from the Stella Adler School of Acting, she has been living and creating in NYC. Sarah joined us to talk about her experiences in both the Lebanese and New York theater scenes, and the relative challenges of finding space, funding, community, and consistency in each.  Sarah mentions her recent/upcoming projects including: Stockade, a thriller film directed by Eric McGinty, in which Sarah plays a Lebanese painter in NYC–amidst her artist visa application process–who takes on a job delivering a mysterious parcel. Diss Oriental, a play co-written with…
Elias Jahshan is a Palestinian/Lebanese-Australian journalist, writer and editor. He most recently edited the anthology This Arab Is Queer, which features eighteen queer Arab writers (including a good handful of former podcast guests) sharing stories across a variety of locations, experiences, and aesthetic styles. Elias joined us to talk about growing up in Western Sydney, breaking into the journalism field in Australia and England, and the assumptions he encountered while writing for both Arab and LGBTQ centered publications. He also discussed the process of putting this memoir together, the particular care involved in editing personal work, the quandaries involved in…
This week we were joined by Iranian-Canadian lawyer, researcher, and writer Aytak Dibavar for an episode focused on the recent uprisings in Iran following Jina (Mahsa) Amini’s murder by “morality” police. Aytak discussed aspects of the movement that have been neglected in mainstream media and discussion, including Jina’s Kurdish identity, its working class roots, and the inclusion of queer voices. We also discuss the historical context of American intervention in Iran and previous protest movements, often absent from Western coverage. We discuss the hesitancy of international leftists in speaking out–whether due to oversimplified ideas of anti-interventionism or concerns of promoting…
On August 30, 2021, we published a magical bicoastal, virtually-recorded episode with Amir Aram Ronaldo.  We now have an in-person episode with them a little over a year later!  On October 30, 2022, we (Alia, Nadia, and Aram) set out on an adventure in NYC on a Halloween bookstore crawl.  Boba tea was had.  Pickles were purchased at a bookstore that has books and pickles.  Cats being walked in clear backpacks were discussed. We took a break, sat on a large rock in a park, and recorded this mini-episode!  Hear all about Avocado Toast’s, Bella Hadid’s, and Cher from Clueless’…
We’ve got a personal episode this week with Ellie, Alia, and Nadia!  A lot of the discussion focuses on one particularly eventful day for Alia and Nadia that included: Alia attending a protest in solidarity with Iranian women’s rights, along with some friends from Iran, who discussed how optimism and political energy varies across micro-generations.  The puppet/public art project Walk With Amal, which was heartwarming, but also brought up complicated feelings about the need for art to create empathy towards refugees. The documentary Sirens about the Lebanese all women thrash metal band Slave to Sirens, which was both beautiful in…
Ahmed Sadkhan (The Healing Khan) is a queer activist and life coach specializing in inner alignment and inner child work.  He is Lebanese-Iraqi and grew up in Berlin; during this episode, Ahmed discusses the work he has done internally and externally to examine the pieces of himself and his identities that have yet to receive needed care.  Ahmed also talks about the work he has done with others to help them along their healing journeys, the ways he has contributed in the collective aim for queer liberation, and more. You can follow Ahmed on Instagram @TheHealingKhan, and check out his…
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