Digital Artivism During the Lebanese Intifada (2019- ): New Queer Narratives

For the very first time in the modern history of Lebanon, many people living in sectarian-segregated regions have shared the squares of the uprising. Marginalized groups have also found themselves sharing space with other protestors. For instance, queer communities who were structurally and violently excluded from the political terrain have “entered the mainstream as a pillar of resistance for the first time” (Younes, 2019). In a country where authorities have relentlessly policed their existence, they became part and parcel of the Lebanese intifada (Younes, 2019). Anti-gay sentiment is widely perpetuated in the Lebanese community as 80% of the Lebanese reject homosexuality (Pew Research Center, 2013). But in the liminality of the protests, the streets that were once associated with fear and anxiety for queer people became less hostile. Adding to this, following the burst of the people’s anger, there was a culmination of artivistic creation in which gender-related questions were very present. On the walls of the revolution, words and images were celebrating sexual and gender diversity (Al-Bawaba, 2019) and even responding to some sexist revolutionary slogans ("my vagina is not a curse word" for example).

Even before the intifada, there were many artists' pages on Instagram (Queer Arabs for example) celebrating non-normative gender identities on the internet. But it is namely the triple liminality of the social movement, art, and the internet which allowed new technological forms of queer self-narratives to emerge in alignment with the uprising. These digital spaces were used as counter-safe spaces to create and share queer artivistic artivism to counter status-quo oppression. Instagram was used as a site for symbolic and political resistance, where queer artivists reclaimed intragroup alliances to foster their representation in the mainstream narratives of the uprising. They viewed their demands as connecting the struggles against patriarchal, capitalist, and colonialist systems. And even though this belief was not shared among the protestors, there was a growing consciousness of their existence, namely due to this new technological form of self-narratives.




https://www.instagram.com/josephkai/









https://www.instagram.com/rawand.issa_/






https://www.instagram.com/artqueerhabibi/





References:

December 19th, 2019. "Gays for the Revolution": LGBT Rights Activists Take Part in Lebanon Protests. Al-Bawaba.

https://www.albawaba.com/node/gays-revolution-lgbt-rights-activist-take-part-lebanon-protest

June 4, 2013. The Global Divide on Homosexuality. Pew Research Center.

https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2013/06/04/the-global-divide-on-homosexuality/

Younes, R. (2019). If Not Now, When? The Queer and Transpeople Reclaim Power in Lebanon’s Revolution. Humans Rights Watch.

https://www.hrw.org/video-photos/interactive/2020/05/07/if-not-now-when-queer-and-trans-people-reclaim-their-power



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