Inas al Deghaidi, the Egyptian film director, is dealing with same-sex relations in her new film. In reporting the story (in Arabic), Al Jazeera still insists on using the offensive word "Shawath" [translation: deviant] to refer to same-sex relations. Maybe someone should let them know that the word "methli" [a noun formed from "same"] might be a better substitute? I was glad to hear the Lebanese journalist Zahi Wahbi using it in his interview with Raja' al Sane' on Future TV a while ago. Now, he just needs to get the courage and call al Sane' "woman" instead of "Fatat," and "Sabeyya" as he did in the same interview. "Woman" is not a dirty word ya Zahi that we need to tiptoe around. I know Al Sane' is not married, but she is still a 24-old woman as far as I am concerned.
Back to Al Deghaidi. Wether her representation of same-sex relations is good or bad will depend on what she has to say and how she says it. The mere representation of homosexuality in film or literature does not necessarily lead to better understanding. Take 'Ala' al Aswani's novel 3emaret Yacoubian translated into English as The Yacobian Building, a best-seller in the Arab world. The film based on it has been Egypt's entry in the Berlin film festival--the first in 27 years (starring Nour el Shereef and Adel Imam). One of the characters in the book is a homosexual journalist who has a relationship with another man. The novel includes "intimate" scenes between the men. However, the discourse the novel peddles about homosexuality, and about sexulity in general, is conservative if not reactionary. Homosexuality is a "western disease" that is infecting our society and causing it to be infertile. The only fulfilling sex scene in the novel occurs in an Islamic military training camp between a couple whose marriaged has been arranged by the leader of the camp (this wife is the only 'feminist' in the book; all the other women are just bodies bought and sold on the meat market). In short, when it comes to sexuality, both hetro and homo, this book is retareded and retarding.