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The Queer Arabs

Author: The Queer Arabs

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Some queer Arabs run a podcast together!
181 Episodes
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Denmo Ibrahim, a first-generation Egyptian-American actor, writer, and entrepreneur, joined for this week’s episode.  We focused on her upcoming work, Brilliant Mind, which is a participatory digital experience that will be presented through Marin Theater Company.  In this work, the two main characters (siblings Dina and Yusef) learn of their estranged father’s death, they return to their childhood home to bury a man they never knew.  The story explores the bond that forms between the two siblings in navigating the grief, and the ways in which they get to know their father after his death.  Alia and Denmo both relate…
Randa Jarrar is a Los Angeles-based Palestinian-Egyptian writer, actress, and more. She joined us to discuss her recent and upcoming work, plus virtual kink parties, tattoos, tatreez and tea! Randa is the author of the forthcoming memoir Love Is An Ex-Country, the novel A Map of Home, and the collection of stories Him, Me, Muhammad Ali. She is also a performer who has recently appeared in Hulu’s RAMY, as well as the short films GOT GAME and FINJAN. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Salon, Bitch, Buzzfeed, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of a Creative…
Luai Qubain is an author and engineer born and raised in Jordan and currently based in Denver. His book The Kingdom’s Sandcastle revisits his experiences as a young man in Jordan hiding his sexuality, losing his mother, and surviving an abusive relationship. Luai recalled the challenges of writing and reliving trauma, and why he felt compelled to do so. He also discussed the particular risks of relationship abuse within heavily persecuted queer communities. We also talk about the various groups of visitors in Jordan – including study abroad bros and vacationing Saudis – and the densely-packed cultural diversity of the…
Lena Harbali is an LA-based Syrian-American multidisciplinary artist working in fashion, writing, music, visual art, and more. Lena discusses how growing up in various places – Michigan, Belgium, and Japan – shaped her perspective on the world. She recounts her journey into designing, and eventually modeling, with the goal of making fashion for all body types and gender expressions. She also talks about recording her recent EP, embracing her voice, and releasing the throat chakra. We discuss how art can at once be a form of expression and something to hide behind – and learning to share ourselves more directly…
Alex (Lebanese, pronouns they/them) co-founder  studio SoftNotWeak discusses with Ellie their new game currently in development called Spirit Swap: Lofi Beats to Match-3 To. It is an action-puzzle game set in a lush, narrative-driven world of witchy demons. Everyone is non-binary in this one. Ellie and Alex discuss killing ourselves for a white audience, white education by minorities in corporate America, hating on trash representation, Call of Duty, QPOC joy, business structuring, the over representation of traumatized white lesbians as a genre, the failures of changing the system from within, the Gerudo apologists that are us, excellent head cannon, the…
Massoud Hayoun is a Los Angeles-based journalist and writer. His book When We Were Arabs recounts his grandparents’ lives in Egypt, Tunisia, Palestine, and Los Angeles as a decolonial reclamation of Jewish Arab identity. In part two of our two-part conversation, Massoud explains his decision not to include his queer identity in the book–with the intention of focusing on his grandparents’ stories and the anticolonial message, but also with some concern about making himself a singular voice on Queer Arab issues. We also discuss the challenges of writing for a mixed or unknown audience, where accounts of homophobia in…
Massoud Hayoun is a Los Angeles-based journalist and writer. His book When We Were Arabs recounts his grandparents’ lives in Egypt, Tunisia, Palestine, and Los Angeles as a decolonial reclamation of Jewish Arab identity.  In part one of our two-part conversation, Massoud explains the process of conceptualizing and writing this book alongside his grandmother. We discuss the challenges of balancing our cultural focus on the past with the need to imagine a better future, and how claiming an identity can be a political choice. We also talk about how concepts of gender play out in our personal and political lives,…
Mloukhiyyé is a Beirut-based artist working with pixel art, text, video games, drag and more! They discussed their past and future projects, including illustrations of performers in and around the Lebanese drag scene, video games that reflect social and environmental issues, an illustrated book about Lebanese queer slang, and a piece involving Tatreez and Lebanese herbs.  We also talked about their journey into queer identity, why they chose the mloukhiyye leaf as their namesake, pronouns in Arabic, misogyny and homophobia within gaming circles, why queer people like Animal Crossing, and more! Shoutout to some of the artists and organizations mentioned…
Episode 151:  Tasneem

Episode 151: Tasneem

2021-03-1345:10

Tasneem is a producer, singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, newly based in Toronto, with East African and South Asian roots. Their recent album “Just Before the World Ends” captures a sense of raw punk authenticity with a third-culture-kid spin. We talked about Tasneem’s experience growing up in Oklahoma in a Muslim immigrant family, the influences and inspirations that have shaped their music, a story about dates, Palestine, and Portugal, and more! www.jesuistasneem.com
Claudia (she/her) is a queer, mixed Lebanese-American, disabled sexual and domestic violence preventionist, advocate, survivor, and social justice organizer, based in Fredericksburg, VA. She joined us to talk about her work as Community Services Specialist at the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault (RCASA) in Fredericksburg, VA.  RCASA’s services include a 24/7 hotline, counseling, hospital accompaniment, legal accompaniment, case management, prevention education. As part of her position, Claudia educates people in her community (as early as middle school) about healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationships, consent, bystander intervention, and much more. Our conversation included the importance of intersectionality in work around sexual…
Image: “Lovers in the Times of Revolution”  Omar Sfeir is a Beirut-based photographer and filmmaker. His work documents human intimacy as a means of questioning social norms. His photographic journeys tell the stories of non-conformists in the context of their respective societies, inspired by the taboos of sexual expression in the MENA region, especially towards the LGBT community.  We discussed his recent photography projects, which represent the Lebanese Revolution, the Beirut explosion, and the COVID-19 crisis through visual symbolism, and his new documentary “Album,” which follows the relationships between three queer Lebanese individuals (including himself) with their mothers. We also…
Photo by Dasha Landa Sivan Battat (she/they) is a queer Iraqi-Jewish artist & organizer based in New York City, focused on new play and new musical development, and Arab-Jewish cultural organizing. Sivan’s work is across genres – in the theatre, in community, in ritual celebration, and beyond. Our conversation with Sivan was so rich, we decided to make it a two-parter! This week’s episode focuses on Sivan’s recent work organizing ancestral storytelling workshops and what it means to connect to our (biological or otherwise) ancestors as queer people. Sivan also discusses her process of finding community across intersecting identities. https://www.sivanbattat.com/
Amina Shareef Ali is a trans, Oakland-based singer-songwriter, therapist, mom, and punk of Egyptian, Turkish, and Filipino descent. She discussed the challenges of retracing cultural heritage lost through her father’s passing and her mother’s assimilation, and the complex pressures of passing identity to the next generation. We also discussed lies we’ve been told about “making it” as an artist under capitalism, the audience base she found after embracing her queer, trans, and mixed-brown identities, what it means to be (folk)punk, and more! Amina’s new album ‘In the Dark (Awake Of Course)’ is coming out Monday March 29! Follow her on…
With Donald Trump finally out of the White House, Ellie, Alia, and Nadia took this episode to look back on the flurry of damages he’s caused over the last four years, particularly with regards to immigration and LGBTQ rights. (Not lost on us was the irony of Trump using a vague notion of “gay rights” to justify the Muslim ban, while persistently rolling back actual protections for queer and trans Americans.) Many of his executive orders were eventually struck down in court, but not without inflicting serious harm and leaving us psychologically drained.  We also discuss our tentative hopes, concerns,…
Photo credit: Jenna Hamed (IG: @j7md) Michael Zalta is a queer Syrian-American Jewish writer, researcher and playwright interested in the intersections between Media Theory, Biopolitics and Decolonial Aesthetics. His recent play “Who the Fuck is Ahmed” is about the psychosexual misadventures of an American-Jewish couple who moves to Haifa to raise a family, when a metaphysical ghost from historic Palestine drives a wedge through the relationship. Michael discussed growing up in Brooklyn’s Syrian Jewish community (and the deep similarities he saw in David Adjmi’s memoir), and becoming a “Foucault Fuckboy” at NYU to overcompensate for the particular myopia of his…
Aram Ronaldo is a Palestinian-American organizer invested in anti-colonial land justice across geographies.  They joined us to discuss solidarity organizing between Indigenous, Black, and Palestinian movements, and the duality of being both displaced people and settlers.  They discuss their current project, The Lalime Ohlone Transfer Project, which involves transferring their family business’s land to the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust,* the Bay Area’s prominent Indigenous women-led community organization.  We also talked about their first time visiting Palestine, the foods that keep us connected to our cultures, the importance of imagination in activist/organizing work, the origins of “philistine” as an insult, and…
For this episode, we’re inviting you to hang out with us at brunch, featuring charcuterie by Adam Elsayigh. Adam walks us through his journey as a charcuterie artist and his near-religious obsession with Trader Joe’s. Cristian joins us to talk about the queer scene in Puerto Rico and the struggles common in too-tight-knit queer communities in anywhere. We also analyze our personal tendencies with giving, receiving, and seeking out compliments and criticism on our work. This one’s a bit of a mixed plate, but it just might suit your taste.                 Here is…
RIDIKKULUZ  (aka Samer) is a Jordanian-American artist (with Egyptian, Palestinian, and Syrian roots) visualizing identity through painting, sculpture, performance, and video. He is also part of the NYC ballroom scene, as a member of House of Xtravaganza.  This episode was recorded from Samer’s apartment, where he showed us some of his artwork and talked about finding ballroom/vogue as part of gaining confidence in visible queerness. He mentioned how his cultural upbringing, with an emphasis on knowing one’s history and predecessors, has translated into seeking out queer community and mentors.  We also discussed whether we believe in accidents, ghosts, horoscopes, and…
Rime Salmi is a singer-songwriter whose work channels the fusion between her Moroccan heritage and Canadian upbringing. She sings in French, English, Spanish, and Arabic, weaving in rhythms from across the African continent and diaspora. Directed by Reda Lahmouid, the video for her cover of Warda’s “Batwanes Beek” features well-known dancers in the Montreal LGBTQ scene making the city their catwalk.  Rime joined us to discuss staying connected to her roots through music, becoming a more conscious ally to queer people in the MENA, releasing music in times of crisis, her upcoming tracks, and more.
Sheyam Ghieth is an Egyptian-American artist exploring themes of language, liberation, queerness and exile through illustration, hand lettering, pattern making and graphic design. Her “QUEER in Arabic” and “Nonbinary in Arabic” T-shirt designs have raised relief funds for queer and trans Muslims and Arabs since Ramadan 2020.  Sheyam has created graphics for Netflix, Hulu, A24, HBO and FX; and has designed for shows such as Orange is the New Black, The Americans, and Ramy. Born in Cairo, she has lived all over, including Rome, Zimbabwe, Sudan, NYC and, most recently Portland. She is a former bus driver and an ex-journalist.…
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