Unspeakable Love

Unspeakable Love

Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East

Book - 2006
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From the publisher's description: "Whitaker's exploration of changing sexual behavior in the Arab world reveals that--while deeply repressive prejudices and stereotypes still govern much thinking about homosexuality--there are pockets of change and tolerance. The author combines personal accounts from individuals in the region with a look at recent Arab films and novels featuring gay characters and conducts a sensitive comparative reading of Christian, Jewish, and Islamic strictures around sexuality. Deeply informed and engagingly written, Unspeakable Love draws long overdue attention to a crucial subject."
Publisher: Berkeley, Calif. : University of California Press, c2006
ISBN: 9780520250178
0520250176
Characteristics: 264 p. ; 21 cm
Other Standard Identifier: 9780520250178

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ClarkHarveyRoth
Jan 05, 2016

A very satisfying overview of the gay & lesbian experience on the ground, in cultures where those storylines are often hidden or denied in the extreme. The author does a graceful job of avoiding oversimplification, though, & moralizing throughout, & quite to my surprise there were gay men interviewed in Saudi Arabia who scoffed at all our silly worrying that they live in danger of getting their heads cut off. One of the greatest strengths of the book is that it raises & elaborates this critical question: how do we engage the concept of sexual liberty & tolerance in cultures where the matrix of individual vs. community values, & identities, & behavioral guidelines, is so fiercely & self-consciously different from ours? Further, is acceptance of the relatively recently-evolved 'gay identity' a universal mile marker of social progress?, or is this specifically & exclusively a Western construct lacking application outside the Western world? I would add, is it or is it not fair play to judge a society by how constructively it encounters & integrates The Other? Who you are will obviously determine how you answer, & there's no ignoring the unfortunate echo of 1940s & -50s psycho Bible belt rhetoric in some of the clerical pronouncements used in example (people going to hell for masturbating, etc., etc.). As one who somehow survived all the poison of that kind of upbringing in this country, I'll be curious how the same conversation sounds in the Middle East after another generation or two. CR

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