BintElNas: Web of Dreams
Introduction  |  Guest Producer Nadyalec
In Arabic
Conversations with queer Arab artists feed me.

I just got off the phone with a friend and after talking about her poetry I feel like I am in love; excited, smiling, flushed, ready. Hearing about her work and telling her about my work is one of the best medicines I know for grief and exhaustion, for stress, loneliness and isolation. In those moments of eager talk, as in the moments of reading, writing, and making love, I am my best self, more than the sum of my anxieties, larger than my usual self. It is one of the most beautiful things in the world; it is one of the reasons to keep on living.

I was thrilled to be asked to work on this magazine because I need it to exist. Like many queer Arabs I love stories. I find it difficult to sleep when more than one of us is in the same room; it is difficult to get off the phone once we get started. I've had nights of sleep deprivation, my body's exhaustion battling the need to express the thought triggered by her thought, a feedback loop of mutual inspiration. I have hungered for our stories; I have needed to hear about our lives. I love seeing us in the flesh, but being a creature of words I also need to see us in print. This magazine is about our stories; collecting our stories and celebrating our lives in all our complicated glory. I'm tired of reading through other people's books, searching for a stray glimpse or reference that reflects us; we deserve volumes. May this magazine be a book in an immense library, one contribution to a passionate conversation.

The first queer Arab woman I ever met was in a book. I was reading a book by an American feminist about women and terrorism; it was called something like the Demon Lover, I'm honestly not sure. The writer had been a member of a terrorist organization and wanted to write about the appeal of terrorist rhetoric for women. I picked up the book because it looked interesting it and was on sale, but I didn't find it terribly gripping. Then suddenly, in a chapter where the author described traveling around the Occupied Territories in Palestine with a translator, she met a woman who brought up a topic she had been told never to mentionólesbianism. I read eagerly as the woman spoke calmly about her life and its pleasures and difficulties. I still remember the low-key way that she compared her experiences as a lesbian in occupied Palestine to those of living as a lesbian in the U.S. when she was a student. She also had a beautifully simple way of dismissing the people who said that there was no such thing as an Arab lesbian. "I do not imagine me," she told the interviewer, and I read it years later and shivered. Yes. She does not imagine herself. And I do not imagine us either.

Three years ago, sitting in a room full of the first queer Arab women I ever met in the flesh, one of us brought up that phrase and told that story. Again I shivered, shocked by the sound of the words in the air; but this time I looked around me and saw that half of the people in the room were nodding. Many of us had read that book and we all remembered that phrase. I have a fantasy that that Palestinian lesbian will get ahold of this magazine, she will get access to the web through a job and find it on a web search during a break, or somebody will print it out and give it to her. I would love to see her write for a future issue. Whether or not she ever does, though, I am deeply thankful for the gift of her words, and these words are a gift back, to her and to the rest of us. Thank you for telling me that you are in the world, and I hope that you love these stories as much as I love them.

Introduction  continued on page 2  


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