Imagine trying to celebrate Pride in a country where not only gay sex is criminalized but a crackdown on the LGBTI community and its events has led to increased scrutiny.
It’s not an easy task, but that’s exactly what a determined group of LGBTI people have achieved in Lebanon.
Without even mentioning the LGBTI community the camp track called, Kol Al Alwan, is destined to become a Pride anthem.
Meaning ‘Of All Colors’, the chorus sings, ‘humans of all colors/of all colors/human of all colors’.
The M-Coalition at the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality (AFE) have created the song. They wanted to celebrate all gender and sexual identities, races and body positivity.
Kol Al Alwan
Elie Ballan is M-Coalition’s head of health and has personally wanted to make a Pride song in Arabic for years.
‘But it was not easy,’ he told Gay Star News.
‘This year we tried harder and asked around until we discussed with Anthony from the Lebanese Band, Adonis, who was delighted to support us in creating this song.
‘Nothing reaches people faster than singing and dancing. We wanted to create something that people will use to celebrate and have a good time, we wanted something universal that warms the heart.’
Lebanese singer Manel Mallat lent her voice to the track and stars in the video. A team of volunteers worked tirelessly to record the song and music video at a fraction of the real cost.
Mallat is a passionate human rights supporter. She said she did not think twice when it came recording vocals for Kol Al Alwan.
‘Daily discrimination and humiliation are happening to people because of their gender identity & expression, their sexual orientation, their color, their religion, their special ability,’ she told Gay Star News.
‘Plus sized women are ashamed of their bodies because our communities idolize fake body standards, children are being bullied just because of how they look or just because they are different.
‘This has to stop. Someone has to do something. Change cannot happen if we do not take actions and make moves.’
All kinds of Pride
Lebanon, much like the rest of the region, has face a renewed crackdown on the LGBTI community.
The country has never hosted a Pride with authorities banning it in consecutive years for fear of offending ‘public morality’.
Even though a top court ruled homosexuality is not a crime, lawmakers have not amended national laws. The country even went on to ban gay dating app, Grindr.
An LGBTI mixer at a university was even shutdown last year after pressure from religious conservatives.
This kind of environment makes it hard to push for LGBTI equality in Lebanon.
‘While many countries have accepted LGBT people, our communities still criminalize them. But it is not just LGBTI who face discrimination or cruelness of culture, but any person who is different, people with special abilities, people of color, curvy people or anyone who is different,’ Ballan said.
‘Our message is a message of acceptance, love and tolerance, and as an LGBTI movement we believe that accepting people in all their diversity is the key towards acceptance.
‘The song speaks of diversity, yet the music video shows examples of these diversities and that is where our representation is taking place.’