Reading Bareed

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When I first read Bareed Mista3jil I was on my way to Ramallah. I was waiting on the Bridge, waiting to cross, stuck in that no-man’s-land that is the Jordan River. Of course we were being made to wait in the oppressive summer heat in a bus with barely any air-conditioning. When I realized the wait was going to be long I pulled out the only book I had with me, Bareed Mista3jil. I had the book with me because I was going to do a reading in Ramallah.


I started from the very beginning, I read the introduction and already fell in love, I couldn’t wait to get to the stories. And so I started to devour the book reading it until we started to move two hours later. In those two hours I was inspired, awed, shocked, saddened, I laughed. The book had me on an emotional roller coaster that brought me to tears. Every time I wiped them away I looked to my right, to see if my neighbor a teenage girl noticed. She was oblivious, listening to her pop music on her ipod; a comical view in retrospect.

In Ramallah, we gathered about 20 queerfolk, from Palestine and even America, some had travelled all morning to be there, crossed checkpoints and barriers, delayed by occupation. Some of us were strangers, and I myself had been meeting all but three people for the first time.  I started by talking about the book, about its journeys and choices. I then started to read.

I have read in public three times and my first choice has always been “Becoming”. I preface my reading with a warning, this is the longest story in the book, but it is one of the most inspiring. A story of discrimination and humiliation; a story of triumph and perseverance, of compassion. And so I launched into it. Becoming has people on edge, in tears, even I cry when I read it, but it motivates us and I think provides that little push to act. I followed Becoming with another inspiring coming out story God’s Will, a story of acceptance, and family, a story that can give us hope. I then read Shabb Walla Binit,and I could see how numerous people in the audience were nodding their heads in recognition, they saw themselves in that story. The men at this point jumped in and said “Is there nothing for us? about us?” We laughed and I read The Hunt for A Gay Husband, after which a discussion erupted, of marriage proposals, and hunts for lesbian wives. I concluded with the last story of the day, the first story in the book, one of the most powerful stories Sou7aqiyyeh.

I read again in Egypt and Jordan. The selections were similar the staples were Becoming and Sou7aqiyyeh for their powerful, thought provoking messages that I hope will lead to action afterwards. I added and removed others. But in all the readings, the discussions were lively, the questions were many, and the thirst for the stories is growing.

In reading Bareed Mista3jil I have come to realize how alone we think we are even as groups of friends. We forget that we can reach out to each other, learn from each other, and that we are not alone. I can also say that Bareed Mista3jil has been the catalyst that has brought together one group and from its reading was launched a support group for LBT women. Personally, I have not finished those last few pages, I know their time will come, hopefully not in occupation, but in liberation.

Contributed by Dyke Drives, Jordanian activist.

Bareed Mista3jil is now available for orders to Arab countries via Books online.

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