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All the names that are mentioned in my posts are totally fake but they are related in a way to the real person's identity, so you do the maths!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A gay voice from Tahrir Square - Gay City News [Updated]

If the ongoing Egyptian people’s revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak in just 18 days — after 30 years of dictatorship — quickly engulfed the whole country, its beating heart was always Cairo’s Tahrir Square (in Arabic, “Liberation Square”), for many years a gay cruising mecca.

And gay people were among the millions of Egyptian citizens who made the revolution possible and joined the crowds who occupied the square to demand democracy and freedom from oppression.

This revolution was motored by young people through the Internet, and one of them was a well-educated, 22-year-old gay blogger and medical student who uses the pseudonym Ice Queer (“It’s a pun on ‘Ice Queen,’ as I’m a calm, cool person,” he explained). He was present in Tahrir Square during much of the protest, including last Friday, February 11, when Mubarak finally fell.

Ice Queer was an early participant in what has been dubbed the “Facebook revolution” that harnessed the social network to organize the first protests in Tahrir Square and elsewhere on January 25. But social networking was a means to an end. What motivations led Ice Queer to join this movement and help mobilize the demonstrations?

“Because we were fed up of Mubarak and his regime,“ he told Gay City News in an interview conducted through a series of email exchanges. “I started participating after I made sure that the protests didn’t have any political or religious agenda from any party and that all protesters are protesting because we are Egyptians and humans who have been oppressed for decades!

“Also it gave me and others a great sense of self, because for so many years most of the Egyptian society was undervaluing the power and enthusiasm of us, the youth! Everything that everyone did mattered, even those who showed up in Tahrir Square just to support and show solidarity.”

On his first day of protest in Tahrir Square, Ice Queer said, “I was holding a sign saying ‘Secular’ in Arabic, English, and French, and also my friends (straight, gay, girls, Christians, and Muslims) were holding similar signs, and we all were chanting that this protest is for the people and not for any party or religion.”

The multitudes in Tahrir Square reflected a veritable rainbow, as Ice Queer witnessed: “Gay, straight, Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Poor, Rich, Black, White, Nubian, Bedouin… EVERYONE was in Tahrir in a beautiful humanitarian image that I saw with my own eyes!”

Every step the Mubarak regime took — seesawing back and forth between violent repression and minor concessions — backfired, stiffening the protesters’ resolve to continue and swelling the crowds in Tahrir Square, Ice Queer said. Because he was on call in the hospital where he interns, he was not present in the square on the day Mubarak sent undercover police and thugs from the lumpenproletariat, paid 8 Euros a day, to attack the pro-democracy demonstrators with clubs, knives, and Molotov cocktails. With a tinge of regret, he wrote, “I don’t know if I should feel lucky or sorry that I wasn’t there on these days.”

But Ice Queer was fortunate, he said, to have been in Tahrir Square when Mubarak’s hand-picked vice president and notorious point man in the CIA’s rendition and torture program, Omar Suleiman, read a short statement on national television announcing that the dictator was stepping down and handing power over to the Military Council.

“On 11th of February, I was in Tahrir Square after Friday’s prayers,” he told this reporter, “and it was very peaceful as on most of the protests’ days. Shortly before the announcement of Omar Suleiman, I was on my way with my friends to grab a bite to eat from a place that’s about ten minutes away from the square, and while we were in the middle of that distance we heard a very loud cheer and cars joyfully tooting their horns. We couldn’t believe it because there was a ‘false alarm’ before, so we called our families for confirmation and we couldn’t have been happier!”

Unlike the previous day’s unrealized rumors that Mubarak would step down that evening, which had sent the square’s throngs into paroxysms of joy, Suleiman’s announcement on February 11 was for real.

“When we went back to the square, we were amazed!,” Ice Queer continued. “People were all hugging and congratulating each other, chanting ‘People indeed removed the system,’ ‘There is no people like the Egyptian people,’ and that ‘Mubarak should be prosecuted’. All the women started to do the popular Zaghrouta (ululation), some people were crying with joy, and some were dancing. Basically everyone was expressing his/ her joy the way he/ she knows to!

“For me, I was having goosebumps all of the time after Mubarak quit! I kept dancing and chanting with my friends and called my boyfriend to share the moment with him too.”

In contrast to the vast majority of Egyptian men who have sex with men — he guesses that “maybe five percent” of whom are out of the closet — Ice Queer self-identifies as gay and is out to his parents and friends, and frequently blogs on gay themes.

Homosexuals under Mubarak’s dictatorship lived under a cloud of fear, marked by waves of intensifying repression. A defining event in the regime’s crackdown was the May 11, 2001 arrest of the men known as the Cairo 52, when police raided a gay party being held aboard a floating nightclub, the Queen Boat, anchored in the Nile.

Although homosexuality is not strictly illegal in Egypt, of the 52 men arrested on the Queen Boat, 50 were charged with “habitual debauchery” and “obscene behavior” under Article 9c of Law No. 10 of 1961 on the Combat of Prostitution. The other two were charged with “contempt of religion” under Article 98f of the Penal Code. These laws have regularly been used to prosecute Egyptian gays, as has the Emergency Law — in place since Mubarak assumed the helm in the wake of Anwar Sadat’s assassination in 1981 – which gives the government the right to arrest people without charge, detain prisoners indefinitely, limit freedom of expression and assembly, and maintain a special security court.

The Cairo 52 were brutally beaten and tortured by police. In a series of hugely publicized trials — during which the uniformly homophobic Egyptian media sensationalized the Queen Boat incident and vilified the men arrested — nearly half of them received prison terms of three years. During the same crackdown, all gay websites were closed down, either by censorship of the Internet or by the arrest of those who ran them.

The persecution of the Cairo 52 was Mubarak’s attempt to throw a sop to the Islamist fundamentalist imams and the Muslim Brotherhood, who were campaigning against homosexuality.

Crackdowns on gays served another purpose as well. When critics of the regime disseminated rumors the dictator’s son, Gamal — whom he hoped to install as his successor as president — was gay, repression of queers was used by Mubarak to cauterize accusations that his government was guilty of “Western decadence.”

Arrests, brutality, and torture of gay men by police — designed, in part, to ferret out the names of other homosexuals — were common in the Mubarak years.

“They even used to make some of them a deal that they will let them go if they lead them to other homosexuals or if they work for them to trap other homosexuals online,” Ice Queer noted.

He went on to explain, “Mubarak knew very well how fear could make him fully control people. The Cairo 52 catastrophe is in the mind of every gay guy in Egypt. Whenever I go to or host a gay party, I always had to a certain degree the fear of ‘This could be another Queen Boat catastrophe.’ Although I wasn’t actively gay at the Cairo 52 time, I remember very well that time and how I was following the case in newspapers though I was only 12 and didn’t fully know about homosexuality back then.”

Ice Queer’s first sexual encounter occurred when “I was 13-14,” he said.

“My parents were away for summer vacation and I was home alone,” he recalled. “I chatted with someone on Yahoo chat and then I brought him home. It was a horrible experience — he was totally not my type, but thankfully it wasn’t hardcore.”

The young blogger elaborated, “I went through the phases of self-struggle like most gay guys, but what made me get quickly out of them into self-acceptance were my friends, reading, doubting, and questioning until I reached balance. I didn’t choose to come out to my parents. It’s a very long story, and they saw it coming anyway, as they indirectly asked me many times before whether I’m gay or not. They knew all along but were in denial and had no ‘evidence’ against me, until one day my sister and my mother confronted me with a chat history that I forgot to delete, so I had no other choice. Their reaction was very surprising actually, because I always thought it would be a disaster and that they would ground or violently punish me.

“They just sat me down and asked me if I was molested when I was a kid and whether I had sex or not, then they said, ‘It could be a psychological problem, would you like to see a shrink?’ and so I did! I saw my shrink for a year and half, then I stopped going and told my parents that I’m ‘cured.’ (You can check my blog posts about the whole experience starting January 2009).

“My closest straight friends knew way long before my parents because I was sick of living a lie and having to pretend to be someone else in front of them. Some of them are still my friends up till now and some are not. Their reactions were mostly positive, but some just tried to preach and gave me religious books because they don’t want me to ‘suffer’ and they wanted ‘what’s best for me.’ Anyhow girls’ reaction was much smoother than guys’.”

Ice Queer, like most self-accepting Egyptian gays, believes that winning the basic human rights of free speech, freedom of association, and freedom of the press are necessary preconditions to the educational process that alone can change hostile cultural attitudes toward same-sex love in Egypt. Now that Mubarak has fallen, this reporter asked him if he believes that raising the question of gay rights must wait until those freedoms are clearly and unalterably established.

“Totally!” he replied, adding, “We need first to realize basic human rights and establish a democratic secular atmosphere before fighting for our LGBT rights. In recent years, homophobia hasn’t really changed in our media, and the post-Mubarak Egypt will depend on which political party will rule.”

The optimism of the will that animated young Egyptians in overcoming their fears and launching protests that led to the revolution is evident in Ice Queer, who voiced no doubts about the army being held to its promises of full democracy.

“If we were able to get rid of Mubarak’s regime in 18 days, I guess we are able to do anything if we unite again for our freedom,” he declared.

What does Ice Queer want from the new, post-Mubarak Egypt?

“To always enjoy the ‘freedom’ that I’m enjoying in these days, to be able to express my point of view without censorship, to be living in a real secular country, to not fear that I’d be prosecuted one day because I’m gay or because I’m atheist,” he responded. “To simply be able to enjoy my humanity by all its means!”

But the army now in power has been part and parcel of the corrupt, repressive regime and owns hundreds of highly profitable businesses in the poisoned, top-heavy economic system from which its generals have profited handsomely. The Interior Ministry’s security apparatus — which numbers one and a half million paid agents and informers — has yet to be dismantled, and the draconian Emergency Law remains in full force.

Observers can only hope that the optimism of the Egyptian youth — as illustrated by Ice Queer’s confident enthusiasm — is not misplaced, and that the democratic revolution in which they believe will not be sabotaged, deformed, or debased by the country’s power elite in the months and years to come.

Ice Queer’s blog— which he could not update during much of the revolution due to the Mubarak regime’s shutting down of the Internet — is at The Human Rights Watch 2004 report on the Mubarak regime’s anti-homosexual campaign and the Cairo 52 incident, “In a Time of Torture: The Assault on Justice in Egypt’s Crackdown on Homosexual Conduct,” is online at Doug Ireland can be reached through his blog, DIRELAND, at


Update #1: also published the interview

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Radio interview with Gaydar radio

„IceQueer“ – der Gay-Blogger aus Ägypten - Siegessä [Updated]

Er bloggt direkt aus Kairo, ist schwul, geht gegen das Mubarak-Regime auf die Straße und schreibt online über beides – auch wenn es gefährlich ist

SIS 10.2. – „IceQueer“ ist ein Internet-Synonym, seinen richtigen Namen kann er nicht nennen, denn Homosexuelle werden in Ägypten verfolgt. sprach mit dem 22-jährigen, der in Kairo als Assistenzarzt arbeitet.
SIS: Wie erlebst du die Proteste in Kairo? Warst oder bist du am Tahrir Square?
IceQueer: Ich war am ersten und  8. Februar am Tahrir, es war sehr friedlich und ein bisschen wie Karneval. Die Leute rufen ihre Forderungen in Sprechchören, es herrschte eine fantastische Atmosphäre – es ist wie ein neues Utopia! 
Was denkst du, wie die junge Generation, die dort protestiert, gegenüber Schwulen und Lesben eingestellt ist? 
Die Meinung und Haltung gegenüber Schwulen und Lesben variiert stark von Person zu Person, man kann es also nicht eindeutig sagen. Einigen ist die sexuelle Orientierung anderer einfach egal, andere begründen ihre Haltung auf Religion ... Ich glaube, dass sich die Haltung gegenüber Schwulen und Lesben nicht an einer Generation oder einer sozialen Schicht festmachen lässt, sie ist abhängig von der jeweiligen Art zu denken und zu fühlen. Die ägyptische Jugend ist so vielfältig, ich kann nicht einmal für die Schwulen unter ihnen sprechen. Ich kann nur von meinen eigenen Erfahrungen berichten und glaube, dass diese neue Generation offener und liberaler ist. 
In Europa wird oft die Frage diskutiert, was passiert, wenn die Moslem-Brüder an die Macht kämen. Was denkst du als schwuler Mann über die Moslem-Brüder?
Auch wenn ich persönlich nicht pro Moslem-Brüder und auch nicht religiös bin, verdienen sie es gehört zu werden und an der politischen Zukunft Ägyptens teilzunehmen. Ich glaube nicht, dass sie es schaffen, den Präsidenten zu stellen, sie konnten es auch nicht als sie sehr stark waren und Sadat erschossen, wie sollten sie es also jetzt schaffen? Außerdem werden die Tahrir-Proteste nicht für eine bestimmte politische Agenda oder Partei geführt. Wir protestieren für Freiheit, soziale Gerechtigkeit, Demokratie und die elementaren Menschenrechte und viele andere Forderungen. Die nächste Präsidentschaftswahl sollte fair, legal und von Beobachtern begleitet durchgeführt werden, damit der die Wahl gewinnt, den das Volk wählt. Wenn die Mehrheit der Bevölkerung die Moslem-Brüder wählt, wer wäre ich, wer wärest du, das zu verurteilen? Es wären die Leute, die das Volk gewählt hätte und wir alle hätten das zu respektieren. 

Was sind deine Hoffnungen für dein Land, was sind deine Hoffnungen für dein Leben und LGBT-Personen?

Ich glaube, alle drei Hoffnungen sind eigentlich eine einzige. Ich bin ja nicht zu den Protesten gegangen, weil ich schwul bin oder Rechte für LGBTs fordere, sondern weil ich das Beste für mein Land will. Wenn sich meine Hoffnungen für Ägypten erfüllen, würden sich auch meine persönlichen Wünsche leichter erfüllen. Zum Beispiel, wenn Ägypten wirklich ein säkularer Staat wird, habe ich mehr Raum zu sein, was ich bin. Und wenn alle Menschen faire Löhne für ihre Arbeit bekommen, werden auch alle mehr von ihrem Leben erwarten können und dadurch auch anderen gegenüber gelassener werden.
Ich habe gehört, das der Tahrir Square vor den Demos ein schwuler Treffpunkt war? Das ist natürlich sehr symbolisch für Freiheit!
Ja, viele cruisen gerne am Tahrir, viele haben auch einfach keinen Zugang zum Internet. Wenn die Polizei früher auf einfache Weise ein paar Homosexuelle verhaften wollte, fuhr sie zum Tahrir. Aber heute findest du da Schwarze, Weiße, Schwule, Heteros, Christen, Muslime, und einfach alle protestieren zusammen auf eine wundervolle, menschliche Art und Weise!
Wie ist die rechtliche Situation in Ägypten für LGBTs?
Es gibt kein Gesetz, das gleichgeschlechtlichen Sex oder Beziehungen verbietet, man wird statt dessen wegen Unzüchtigkeit oder Verstoß gegen die öffentliche Moral angeklagt. Das Problem ist, dass die ägyptischen Polizisten die von ihnen Verdächtigten in sprachliche Fallen locken. Sie sprechen zum Beispiel nur von Unzüchtigkeit und bringen die Opfer dazu, dies auch selbst zu tun, obwohl derjenige vielleicht nur gleichgeschlechtlichen Sex meinte. Das Notfallgesetz erlaubt es der Polizei außerdem, in deine Wohnung einzudringen, ohne einen Durchsuchungsbefehl zu haben.
Spielen Rechte für LGBTs eine Rolle in den momentanen Protesten, oder sollten sie es?
Ich glaube nicht, dass wir schon genug Freiheit oder Demokratie haben, um in Ägypten LGBT-Rechte zu fordern.
Was können LGBTs außerhalb Ägyptens tun, um euch zu unterstützen?
Internationale LGBT-Organisationen haben uns immer geholfen und tun es noch: Sie sorgen dafür, dass unsere Stimme per Internet und Medien gehört werden, sie üben Druck auf die Regierung aus, wenn diese Homosexuelle verhaften lässt und schaffen ein Bewusstsein für unsere Situation.

Musst du als schwuler und kritischer Blogger momentan irgendetwas befürchten? 
Die Angst und das Risiko verhaftet zu werden, ist immer da. 
Interview: Christian Mentz 

Update #1 (Feb20):
Interview is mentioned also here

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cruising is out in Tahrir Square - Updated 12-3-2011

Cario, 04.02.11
Interview by Dan Littauer with "IceQueer", an Egyptian gay blogger
GME: Tell us a little about yourself...
IQ: I'm 22 years old Egyptian Moroccan guy, I'm a medical intern and interested in activism, politics, religions, music and lots of different things

GME: What is your blog all about?
IQ: It's about my thoughts and my perception of reality. Sometimes I feel it's like a non-stop documentary of some parts of my life and my personality.

GME: When did you start the blog and why?
IQ: I started in July 2008. It was a coincidence and a funny story actually; electricity was off at home so I thought of playing around with my laptop's pen and there it was my first post! Also the blog name in the beginning was "My thoughts & confessions" then I changed it to its current name after the first post.

GME: Do have a lot of gay readers following your blog? What kind of responses are you getting?
IQ: Well I can never be 100% sure of the number of readers/followers because how can you count readers who don't leave comments or follow the blog through blogger but according to the blog's stats, number of comments and number of followers, I guess I've a lot of gay and straight readers following my blog.
I get all kinds of responses and I approve and answer them all, actually comments are some of the things that keep me going and keep writing.

GME: You were in Tahrir square on Tuesday, describe what was it like?
IQ: I guess I was lucky because the day I went to Tahrir's demo was a very peaceful day after police's violence was over and before the attack of Mubarak's thugs (Thursday). It felt amazingly peaceful and cheerful. I loved how diverse yet finally united Egypt is! I was holding a sign saying "Secular" in Arabic, English & French and also my friends(straight, gay, girls, Christian and Muslims) were holding similar signs and we all were chanting that this protest is for the people and not for any party or religion. Everything was really beautiful and looked like a European carnival!
Before internet was shut down, I was very active on my twitter page and facebook raising awareness about how important #Jan25 is and that we all should participate. I never knew that facebook and twitter can be that powerful and that the things you tweet can actually make a change even if it's a little change like correcting someone's information

GME: You mentioned you were helping people in hospital, are there many people hurt? Any of your friends or family?
IQ: Yes, unfortunately many people were injured as the numbers said on News channels. My family and non-Egyptian boyfriend were safe but some of my friends had minor superficial injuries and also 3 guys I know were detained on the 25th of Jan but were released the next day. It's funny that most of Egyptian homosexuals fear police arrest but I was happy that those 3 guys were arrested because of a great cause like Jan25! Very honourable.

GME: We see reports of international journalists being attacked now in Egypt, but how are local journalists and bloggers are being treated?
IQ: Actually it's not about being foreigner or local, it's always about the news agency you work for and the things you blog/tweet about. So the more you are honest and scandalous about the regime, the more chances you get detained!

GME: What kind of changes do the people want to see?
IQ: Like we all chanted; Freedom, Social Justice and Democracy. And all of this will change by removal of Mubarak & his regime, dissolution of Parliament, ending the Emergency state/law and that High Court's judges should supervise the elections.

GME: Do you think there will be a transition to a democracy in Egypt now?
IQ: I'm hopeful that there will be a transition but first we've to get rid of stereotypes and medieval ideologies that unfortunately many people have in Egypt due to lack of proper education. Jan25 all started by the educated and well politically-aware youth of Egypt.

GME: Does this revolution have a leader or leaders?
IQ: No it doesn't have a leader or leaders, it's a revolution by Egypt's youth against a corrupted regime. This revolution is peoples' revolution and doesn't follow any political party or religious party.

GME: Some commentators have expressed their concern about the Muslims Brotherhood’s influence in the case of a change in Egypt, how realistic is such a concern?
IQ: I don't think MBs would have such an "influence" that would affect majority of Egyptians and Egypt.

GME: I suppose its too risky and even counter productive to ask directly for LGBT rights in the protests, but how do you see these issues in the context of the revolution and larger Human Rights agenda?
IQ: You can't ask for lots of changes that have different effect on people, I mean already asking for "Freedom" and "Fall of regime" bedazzled the whole country and its people so imagine what would happen if we asked for LGBT rights?
I believe that Egypt's LGBT community can only have its rights when Egypt becomes a real secular country.

GME: Can you describe the social/cultural situation for LGBT people in Egypt in the last few years?
IQ: It's diverse and it's like most of LGBT communities around the world; you've all kinds of social and culture differences from deeply conservatives to utterly liberal. But the exposure to western media via internet and TV helped a lot of people in understanding more about their sexuality and how to accept it...etc I already see that the new generation takes less time in accepting their sexuality than older generation used to

GME: Can you be out and gay in Egypt?
IQ: It depends on your personality, your social class, your friends and your family. For me, I'm openly gay to my parents and all of my close straight friends.

GME: Are you out to some people in Egypt, and if yes, what kind of responses do you get?
IQ: Like I said before, I'm out to all of my close friends. You get various responses, some would say they wouldn't lose a friend just because you've different preferences in bed, some would go into long tiring debates with you whether homosexuality is sinful or not and whether it's a choice or not...etc. Again it all depends on one's personality, social environment and religious background.

GME: How do people meet each other?
IQ: Mostly through dating website on the internet but you can also meet guys in private house gay parties and gatherings.

GME: Tell us about the legal situation… We understand that although there are no direct laws prohibiting same sex acts, we understand that other laws are enacted, like Public Order & Public Morals (as in the infamous case of Cairo52), and quite a few cases of people arrested through speaking with agents on chat rooms and gay dating websites… Can you elaborate on that?
IQ: Exactly, there is no direct laws prohibiting same sex acts or relationship but they usually affiliate it with Debauchery, Public Morals & Order.
The thing is that most of policemen play around a lot with words and the bugs in Egyptian law, they usually trap suspects by using words like debauchery when they ask them whether they practice same-sex sex or not, so they make suspects admit that they practice "debauchery" even though the suspect may only meant that he practice same-sex sex.
Also the emergency law gives the ability to policemen to check ur apartment without a warranty if they wanted.

GME: Any specific changes, relating to these two issues mentioned above, that Egyptian lesbian, gay, and transgender people hoping to see?
IQ: We're hoping that Egypt would become a real Secular country one day, that's when people learn to accept their differences then they would start accept people who r sexually different than they are.
GME: It’s a little bit symbolic that Tahrir square is also known as a meeting place for gay people, isn’t it?
IQ: Haha yeah I made lots of puns about this exact thing when I met up my friends in Tahrir to protest. I was like "A week ago, if I told you let's meet in Tahrir then go walk down to Kasr El-Nil bridge, you'd have judged me as a sleazy trashy gay guy"

GME: What can the international LGBT community do to help the general situation in Egypt and in particular the LGBT communities in Egypt?
IQ: If democratic political reforms happened in Egypt, international LGBT communities can help a lot of course by putting pressure on Egyptian regime to apply this kind of reforms too which are under the same umbrella of democratic reforms.

(Source: GayMiddleEast

Update Feb5:
Interview is also published now on LezGetReal

Update Feb9: 
-Interview is translated into German and published on
-Interview is translated in Spanish and published on Ensentidocontrario
-Interview is published also on

Update Feb14:
Mentioned in:
-Egypte: des LGBT au coeur de la révolte - Têtu
-C’est plus le moment de draguer sur la Place Tahrir - :: 360° :: le magazine lgbt de Suisse romande
-Egipto y la esperanza LGBT - Dos Manzanas
-Mubarak kaatui - entä nyt? - Ranneliike (Finnish)

Update Feb25:
Translated into Dutch and got published on Holebiplus

Update March12:
-Translated into Turkish and got published on Kaos GL
Mentioned in:
2560 Internacional Egipto y la esperanza LGTB - Gloss Chile