Activism from the closet: gay rights strategising in Egypt.

Published: May 6, 2006

Activism from the closet: gay rights strategising in Egypt.

[Recently the Egyptian Government has been systematically attacking gays by putting them on trial, detaining and torturing them. The author suspects that there are two reasons behind the Government’s attacks of gay men: firstly, as a strategy to divert attention from its failure to address the declining economic situation in Egypt, and secondly, to increase the perception that it takes the Islamic faith seriously. The latter is particularly important to the Egyptian Government as it owes its increasing popularity largely to the Muslim Brotherhood. By attacking gays, the Egyptian State successfully distracted the public’s attention from its woes, while also shoring up the State’s Islamic credentials. The author also considers mistakes made when engaging in gay rights activism before his ultimate exile from Egypt. The author, who used the language of gay identity and of ‘coming out of the closet’ as part of his activism, examines the problems associated with such language. In particular, the author points out that by deploying the language of gay identity, he played into the hands of the Egyptian State, which then successfully appropriated the same language to distract the Egyptian public from its own problems. The author considers the problems with his activism to be his engaging in a ‘Stonewall’ model of gay rights in which one openly comes out of the closet and declares one is gay. The author concludes by considering a new form of activism that is not open, but hidden, which he calls ‘activism from the closet’. The hope behind the article is to allow LBGTQ groups to express their sexuality, as well as engage in activism, while reducing potential threats directed at them.]

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