Gay, Arab, Israeli, in the Closet

One young Arab Israeli man admits that one day he will probably marry a woman, as is expected of him by his family.

Many LGBT Arabs in Israel are out and proud and take an active part in the gay community, but there also those who feel as though they can’t join in like everyone else for religious, social and cultural reasons.

On an official level there may be no significant separation, but with Tel Aviv being a party city, when it comes to nightlife, there is a special night held every few weeks specifically for Israeli Arabs as well as for those from the West Bank and Gaza. This night offers a safe haven for those in the Arab gay community who are otherwise unable to express themselves how they want to. Mohammed* a 21-year-old gay Jaffa resident who lives with his family, is a regular at these club nights and tells i24news that it’s a good excuse to go out and meet people who are similar to him. “Having the opportunity to mix with other Arab men, who share the same culture as me, is important to me.”

“I think it’s obvious – you have more in common with people from your own community,” he explains. “The gay community of Tel Aviv is very open and accepting but I do feel as if I’m a minority within a minority. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not something I can ignore. I am who I am.”

When it comes to having relationships, Mohammed prefers Arab men. He says he has nothing against the Jews or tourists from all over the world who flock to Tel Aviv, but he is proud of his Arab roots and looks for partners who share a similar culture and ideals.

Mohammed’s parents have no idea that he’s gay and he has no intention of telling them. His traditional family just wouldn’t know how to accept it, he explains. “I love who I am and I’m happy that I get to be who I want to be outside of the house, but my family is too important to me to risk not having them on my side,” he says. Mohammed explains that he would not attend events such as the Gay Pride Parade for fear of being seen supporting gay rights in public.

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