Gay History 101: September 2, 2015

MAWALEH Magazine

Turkey, which shares borders with several conflict zones has recently absorbed millions of people, among them sexual minorities, who have officially become outcasts from their own communities. LGBT refugees, escaping the wrath and destruction of ISIS, from this volatile and conservative region have made Istanbul a sanctuary of sort.

Despite finding something of an oasis in Istanbul, the situation in Turkey is far from idyllic. Being LGBT there means facing homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia from Turks. Minutes before it was due to begin this year Istanbul Pride was cancelled under orders from the city’s government.

It sparked riots with the police who fired tear gas, plastic pellets and many participants were savagely beaten with batons.

Tek Yon is Istambul’s best known gay club. There you will find gay exiles from every sect and ethnicity in the Middle East.

It is the meeting point for gay Syrians and gay Arabs in general. Elsewhere they might be enemies; here Arab Christians, Sunnis, atheists dance together to the same beat. You will meet

Mahamoud Hassino, a Syrian journalist and activist who left his native country for Turkey and from exile he started Syria’s first and only LGBT magazine called MAWALEH (“ Nuts” in Arabic). Hassino recently received asylum in Germany and he will resettle there.

The Commonwealth of Nations or the Commonwealth (formerly the British Commonwealth of Nations), is an intergovernmental organization of 53 member states that were mostly territories of the former British Empire. The Commonwealth operates by intergovernmental consensus of the member states, organized through the Commonwealth Secretariat, and non-governmental organizations. 42 out of 53 member states outlaw and victimize LGBT people. Culture, religion, history are the roots of this extreme intolerance. The British made homosexuality illegal across the empire and the prohibitions remain in place today.

RUGBY. Keegan Hirst, 27, captain of the Batley Bulldogs from West Yorkshire became the first British openly gay rugby professional player. He revealed his sexuality this August 2015 in an interview with the Sunday Mirror. In a sport that is as tough rugby there is always a presupposition That if one is gay he would not be playing in the game. Hirst’s announcement follows the lead of the Australian rugby league player Ian Roberts, Who came out in 1995. The Welsh rugby union player Gareth Thomas came out in 2009, 35, saying he wanted to lift the lid on “ years of despair.” On the same day as Hirst announcement, David Denson, a Milwaukee Brewers minor leaguer became the first openly gay baseball player on a team affiliated with U.S. Major League Baseball.

August 2015: The first openly gay black man has been confirmed as a federal judge by the U.S. Senate for the bench in South Florida. The vote was unanimous to confirm Darrin P. Gayles, who is currently a Miami-Dade County Judge. Obama chose Gayles after a previous openly gay black nominee, fellow Miami-Dade County Judge William Thomas was blocked by Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. Senators also confirmed an openly gay black woman, Staci Michelle Yandle, to a federal judgeship in Illinois.

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