Protesters have been photographed carrying rainbow flags in Gezi Park, Istanbul. Topless European female activists holding “Free Amina” signs, have been sighted in front of a Tunis courtroom. Rumors of “Sexual Jihad,” a fatwa permitting women to provide sexual sevices to rebels in Syria and, now, Egypt, have spread throughout the blogosphere. Too often, however, international media outlets treat these stories as one-off peculiarities, and fail to recognize their social and poitical significance.

Sexual politics—queer or otherwise—have taken hold of ongoing debates on democracy, secularism, and nationalism in the larger Arab world.

In this Special Issue, our contributors provide an analytical look into underreported stories and experiences of women and LGBTQ communities throughout the Middle East and North Africa, as well as their relationship to lager international movements.*

Sexuality & Gender in Middle East and North Africa

Media and the LGBT Community in Iran

by Amin Mirsaeidi-Farahani

LGBTQ Rights in Lebanon: an Interview with Georges Azzi

by Dominic Bocci

Being Transgender in Kuwait: “My Biggest Fear Is a Flat Tire”

by Belkis Wille

Telling Women’s Stories: Post-Orientalist Films in the Arab World

by Rawan Hadid

The Beirut Gay Myth

by Raja Farrah

Sexual Revolution Arab Style: Reviewing Shereen  El-Feki’s “Sex & the Citadel”

by Dominic Bocci

*I would like to gratefully thank Thalia Beaty for her kind review and constructive comments, without which this special issue would not have been possible.

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