By: Rashad Nimr, `13
Haneen Maikey, the leader of an Israeli-Arab activist group, once said, “if one comes out as gay, their Arab identity must then go into the closet.” The documentary The Invisible Men by Yariv Mozer follows the story of Louie, a gay Palestinian. When Louie’s father found out about his sexuality, he threatened his life, slashing his face, and kicking him out of the house. Louie crossed over into Israel where his sexuality was more widely accepted, but his ethnicity was not. He could never find sanctuary, for he was constantly on the run from police who would deport him back into the territories. Louie’s only chance of sanctuary ended up being far away in northern Europe – far away from his friends, his home, his land.
Hundreds of Palestinian members of the LGBT community go through what Louie went through every day: the constant fear, the lack of security, and the lack of a true identity. These men and women are stuck in the crossfire of the conflict, never being fully accepted by either side. They are hated not only by their fellow Palestinians for their sexuality, but also hated by Israelis for their Arab ethnicity. Their only option is in a foreign land, away from their families, their people, and their land.
I became interested in this topic because I am fully immersed in this issue myself. I am of Palestinian descent, but also identify as gay. Living in the U.S. has allowed me many freedoms that my family back in the region might not understand, and thus has led me to want to study it more. My goal in researching this issue is to gain knowledge of how identities can clash as well as the struggles that this clashing can create. I want to fully analyze an issue that is widely unknown and fully understand the history and triggers behind it.