June 28, 2010

Saudi Gay Scene: "Forbidden, but I Can't Help It"

This article, which discussed the private gay lives of Saudi men and the violence and hate that they face, seemed to represent Structural Functionalist. It spoke of how being gay as a muslim was 'forbidden' and how one man, "prays to God to help me be straight..." He discusses how is only real 'freedom' comes from long vacations to places that have more accepting cultures of gay men and women, and how if anyone at home were ever to find out everything would fall apart and "his mom would kill herself if she found out..." This idea is very structural functionalist because by being gay he is violating his proper role as a man and society as he knows it will fall apart around him if he doesn't pretend to be straight. In Saudi the even go so far as to get married to a lesbian woman, because in this way they can fulfull their social role as a man, but there is an internal understanding between husband and wife that this is just a show. It is a very serious deal to be found gay, and there is even a religious police who can persecute and punish those who are suspected of being gay; one man was punished on the assumption that he was gay based on his tight jeans and shirt, no furthur proof was required.
Thanks to http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=7479150&page=1 for the graphic.


  1. no link to the article?

    anyways, this sounds a lot more like conflict theory to me. They conform to the ideals of their culture because they are well aware of the consequences of being gay in that culture. They are succumbing to the oppressive ideals of the dominant ideal and living their lives by fear.
    In a sense, the gay and lesbian people are at a constant conflict with their society, and the things like 'his mother killing herself' are more of a result of these constant conflicts than they are of a break in the social norms.
    It's more like, if they fail to act out their roles in society, society isn't going to fall apart, it's just going to punish them accordingly.

    that aside, the situation for saudi arabian gay men (and women) and the homosexual people in many other oppressive cultures is very depressing. It hurts to know that we live in a world where people can be killed because of the jeans they wear.

  2. Clare Ellyse, please post the link asap. An Atlantic article notes that homosexual behavior is a capital crime in Saudi Arabia and many other Middle Eastern nations. Iraq executed several men for homosexual behavior in 2006, sparking international protests. Details here: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2007/05/the-kingdom-in-the-closet/5774/

  3. I would like to see more information or statistical information regarding homosexuality in that part of the world but, to get that information would be near impossible. Even in a safe environment; those interviewed would be hesitant to release that kind of information.
    After reading the article posted about Saudi Arabia I wasn't sure that the author had a firm grasp on the wide variety of different cultures and sub-cultures. Relative to that is the small geographic area you can find multiple, highly competitive ideals trying to maintain their status. Having visited most of the countries in that area it is apparent that one thing all the countries have in common in they will protect their institutions from change whole heartedly.
    I find it very interesting that homosexuality is common in the Muslim countries (no statistical information to back this up). Personal space is quite different than our American view and seeing same gender publicly kiss and hold hands is the norm. To find out someone is homosexual you have to be told and this is a dangerous event. Even asking would be a futile attempt. It was common for me to find homosexual men living as normal couples and tolerated; provided it was not discussed. Once it was discussed is when action was taken.
    It should be understood that merely a haircut that might be a little long is grounds for violent action because it does not fit the ideals of their institution.