|"New Lebanese Queer Masculinity: Resistance or Retreat?" |
The dominant discourses surrounding gender and masculinity tend to reduce Arab queer identities to either Western or traditionally Arab. However, a young subculture of Lebanese gay men are introducing a new genre of masculinity that is independent of the standard binary discourse as they seek to revitalize a lost masculinity while simultaneously introducing concepts of feminism into the patriarchal culture. My paper discusses masculinity within Lebanese queer culture as complex and inextricably tied to the workings of the hegemonic masculinity outside it. These young men are looking to normalize their masculinity within the dominant Lebanese culture by identifying with heterosexual men and recuperating gendered hierarchies central to the logic of hegemonic masculinity. While this subculture’s ultimate agenda is normalization through the divorcing of effeminacy from same-sex desire and creating a culture in which they appear to be “normal men,” their masculinity is profoundly disruptive of hegemonic masculinity. In staking their claim to gay masculinity, these men challenge hegemonic assumptions about male sexuality by introducing what feminists have identified as "ethic of care" into an alienated and objectified sexual culture. I argue that this gay community is in search of a more “authentic” masculinity that reorganizes sexuality and challenges gendered assumptions, while making no attempts at radicalization. For, unlike their queer cousins who identify as activists and radicals, these men hardly ever assume an aggressive political profile. While queer activists make a claim to radical difference and demand broader public acceptance, this emerging Lebanese gay community make a claim to radical similarity; a similarity to both heterosexual men and conventional masculinity. For these men to pursue this claim politically, however, entails undermining its "natural," self-evident character. Thus, they remain vulnerable and trapped in political acquiescence.