Jordan’s gay magazine, My Kali, has won unprecedented praise on the unofficial Facebook page of the city of Amman, the Jordanian capital.
The page put up a pro gay rights message along with a topless picture cover of Khalid, a model who is the ‘face’ of the magazine, on Monday (2 July).
In the picture, Khalid is seen wearing the Jordanian hatta (scarf). The post and picture generated massive attention and commentary over Facebook. The Amman page is one of the most popular in the country on Facebook, although it is not formally backed by the municipality.
The post in Arabic said people should ‘recognize the rights of gays in Jordan, and respect their lifestyle. To love and tolerate them is not only a good deed, but also their natural human right, just like your right for freedom and equality.
‘Stay clear from hatred… distance yourself from homophobia, and don’t call homosexuals "perverted". Any society that negotiates their rights is considered one of the greatest, liberated and most humane.
‘Remember that the fear of what’s different is the very first step towards hatred, then followed by discrimination and racism. Don’t be exclusionary, and deal with them as normal, like you and me. I know many gay people who are productive and amazing Ammanis.
‘They are humans just like me and you! It doesn’t take much to see we are like them and can identify with them.’
To date, the post received 214 likes, 70 people shared, and 1,419 comments, many were positive and quite a lot of homophobes also spoke out. Here is a small selection:
- ‘Thanks for this amazing topic! I’ve read so many different reactions and although there’s been many extreme, abusive, frustrated, repressed and homophobic views, Jordanian LGBT are amazingly communicating their existence, needs, and basic human/civil rights! Go guys u rock!’
- ‘All of the gays must vanish in this earth and the solution is putting a bullet through the head of each and every one of them.’
- ‘Believing in gay rights does not mean you’re gay.’
- ‘I always disagree about this… They are cursed by every religion, calling us ignorant for not admitting their "RIGHTS" is really shameful and disgusting… I don’t really care about your "personal" opinion, which you raise… to attract… attention. Please, when you want to do so, list your sick topics under your name, not under our beloved Amman.’
- ‘Yalla funny extremists! Have fun together bashing gays but remember we’re here to stay so whatever you say won’t change the fact that we are here… peace!’
- ‘Why do you people criticize the person who wrote the post as having a "weak personality" or trying to "get attention"? It’s the same thing like standing for the rights of Muslims to live in peace in Burma… Likewise it’s the right of anyone to live in peace the way they are and the way they want their life to be!’
Speaking with Gay Star News, My Kali’s Khalid said he had mixed feelings about the publicity he got: ‘I’m not sure how to feel about all of this! The article is amazing and surprising, but some of the reactions were horrible, homophobic and expected. The reaction shows you the lack of knowledge and recognition toward such minorities.
‘Amman’s Facebook page support of LGBT people is such a step forward toward – calling for tolerance and acceptance.
‘However, I am not sure if the choice of using that cover of me was the right one… It can attract hostility and I understand why that cover could provoke the public. The magazine is dedicated to LGBT people and that cover gives that sense of belonging and pride, but it could be irritating if it was distributed to the wrong public. I’m not sure if that was the right way to approach the issue.’
When asked about the attention that both he, now quite publicly an out gay man, and the magazine received Khalid answers: ‘I dealt with the public outing in late 2007. But when it comes to what’s been happening lately, it’s over whelming, because you’re dealing with a different crowed.
‘And now that we represent something, I don’t want things to be read wrongly, or used against me, personally, and to our magazine as a whole. I don’t want to be the face of what’s wrong. I want to be part of what’s ethical and moderate.’