Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Is Beirut Pride preaching the converts?

Beirut Pride is happening! Good for them. The program is charged with a multitude of events and screenings. Also good for them. That it comes with a very nice logo, also good for them. Before anyone starts getting the wrong idea because of the title of the post, I am pleased such a festival is happening in a society such a Lebanon - where being out of the norm is not exactly encouraged (and by out of the norm I mean anyone simply not conforming on any level - from fashion, to lifestyle, to sexual identity).
Now that I said that, I cannot help but wonder if Beirut Pride is preaching for the converts.
Where are the events happening? At Station - not your run of the mill place - and Bardo (apparently one of the rare gay-friendly places in Beirut, even if truth be told I rarely go out and am relying on hearsay).
Several years back, there was a graduation project I saw whose central theme was "everyone is OK with the homosexual thing as long as it not happening in their family". At the time I was one of those who did not get what the student was pointing at, specifically that she was homophobic herself. With time and distance, I think I get it.
I feel these events, no matter how important and timely, never trickle down to the public. And please do not get me wrong, I am not equating university degrees with knowledge. Regardless of the socio-economic class (even if homosexuality is more accepted in the higher echelons of society in Lebanon as long as it comes with a side pairing of "trophy wife" or "rich banker husband" - and yes, I am measuring my words), level of education, or religious views (add as many factors as you wish to the list), the whole "gay thing" never seems to go out of specific circles.
The 90s was a time of talk shows on Lebanese screens, and homosexuality was discussed, but I cannot help but feel that - two decades down the line - things are still taboo, that we have - not only stood still - but regressed in terms of social norms. Much like women's rights, where any step forward is met with ten steps back, this is an uphill struggle akin to Sisyphus and his rock.
Beirut Pride is certainly a very important event, but I feel it is catering to the same crowd, the same people already predisposed mentally to accepting what it has to offer. I have recently written about LGBT characters inclusion in Lebanese advertising, however, I am not mistaking one-offs with trends. Neither should the Beirut Pride organizers and attendees.