Gay Rights versus Human Rights: A Response to Joseph Massad
Joseph Massad’s article “Re-Orienting Desire: The Gay International and the Arab World” (Public Culture 14 [spring 2002]: 361–85) is a strange concoction. Although ostensibly against the Gay International (GI) and its view that always and everywhere there are gays waiting to be freed by U.S. organizations, Massad attacks scholars who oppose this assumption. To justify his attacks he distorts our writings.
As one learns from the acknowledgments, Massad started the article over ten years ago. But the organizations he criticizes, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), Gay and Lesbian Arabic Society (GLAS), and Al-Fatiha, were not yet around. His motivation appears to be resentment against non-Arabs writing about “his subject.”
Although Massad speaks indiscriminately of the “Arab world,” “Muslim world,” and “Arab and Muslim worlds,” he has the nerve to state: “other problems [with the use of the term Middle East] relate to the fact that the Muslim world extends beyond the ‘Middle East’ into Asia and Africa and that the ‘Middle East’ includes non-Arabs and non-Muslims. . . . It is not clear if what [Bruce] Dunne and others describe as ‘Middle Eastern’ applies to all these people or not” (369 n. 28).
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