Exploring Taboos: Documenting Stories From The Revolution

Egypt is going through turbulent times especially since the January 25 revolution. President Hosni Mubarak resigned on February 11, 2011 but the protests are still on and there have been a number of crackdowns on protesters by the security forces. Although the global attention has been drawn to events elsewhere in the world, Egyptian bloggers are continuing to documenting their experiences. The Rising Voices Grantee from Egypt – Exploring Taboos project by Nazra has completed its third round of workshops during 15-17 March, 2011. It was basically a story telling workshop by both genders and people of different sexual orientations on the revolution. The participants were encouraged to create their own blogs and document their stories themselves.

Nawara Belal writes about the workshops:

This round came after the 25th Egyptian “Youth Revolution” and so it has a certain specific nature, we decided that we can’t be left outside history and so we designed our workshop as a storytelling to the revolution from gender perspective, sexuality subsiding, cultural norms and LGBTS presence.

Thousands of Egyptian protesters at Tahrir Square in Cairo protesting against the regime of the ruling President. Cairo, Egypt. Image by Mohamed Ali Eddin. Copyright Demotix (25/01/2011).

Nawara explains in details what the workshop dealt with – asking these questions:

  • Why did we go to the revolution?
  • Why did the participants actually turned to the “Independent State of Tahrir”
  • What about the LGBT s of the Tahrir Square and how people reacted towards them during and after the revolution?
  • When do we feel most traumatized?

We still can’t deny the moments of nervous breakdowns and feeling desperate, and the material loses that yet didn’t let anyone them lose hope in the revolution; as one participant mentioned how his father’s antiques shop got robbed and he had to be armed all night in the street guarding with those guarding and still, still they didn’t judge the revolution.

And the result of the workshop is this website called Revolutionary Taboos where the stories of the participants of the third workshop are being documented.

In the first story an anonymous blogger writes under a title “A faggot for change”:

In my country they call me a faggot, not me as a person but as a man with different sexual orientation, a man who likes other men. [..]

My life plan before the 25th of Jan was revolving around the idea of working on myself till i ever get the chance to leave my country and start over at any other foreign country.

This plan totally changed starting from the 25th of January 2011. On that day at about 2 pm i was sitting in my office working, and fortunately the place where I am working is located in downtown, so i could see the beginning of the revolution from the balcony of my office. The scene was unique, diverse and touching, I could see thousands of Egyptian, young and old, men and women, they were all shouting, calling for their rights and asking for change and social justice.

Protesters demonstrated late into the night on the Saturday following the Friday of Purification in Tahrir Square. Image By Mahmoud Abu Zaid. Copyright Demotix (9/4/2011).

I couldn’t help it and decided that i would join them. In less than 5 minutes i was in the streets with the crowd. at first I was silent then out of nowhere my voice was getting louder and louder , stronger and stronger. At that moment i couldn’t understand what my motivation was especially that i am having a life of good quality financially and socially, but now i can understand it. For many years of my life i have been living as a legal alien who lives in his own safe zone trying to avoid outsiders as much as he could .Insecurity and fear of being prosecuted were the main themes of my life as a gay young man, and out of sudden i was connected on the 25th of Jan to thousands of people in their demand for freedom. You can say that finally we were sharing something in common.

From that day and on, I started working but from different perspective. people can discriminate against me but it’s worse when i discriminate against myself by accepting being an alien while I have the chance to be a part of a larger network of political and social activists who either know about my sexuality or at least have doubts.

Another anonymous blogger writes:

I participated like millions of Egyptians in January 25 revolution, I shared many things with them: passion, hope and fear, however I had an extra fear which is the fear of collapsing because the tense of the situation in Tahrir. I am bipolar and I was struggling to be normal and not to be an added burden on my friends in Tahrir.

Please read the Revolutionary Taboos blog for more such stories.

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