December 23, 2005
Skeletons aren't the only things in closets here
The least bad local paper ran two stories alongside one another yesterday, each ostensibly about Elton John's marriage to (well, civil partnership with) David Furnish. What I found interesting was the way the first and second stories differed.
The first, which was longer and given the top of the page, exclusively quoted people who opposed gay marriages. The people who were quoted could reliably be expected to take a particular line- two were figures from local churches and two more were prominent UAE academics, (unfortunately but predictably) including one who wants to register the UAE's first independent human rights organization. That fact was notable by its absence from this article.
The second article was somewhere between neutral and pro-gay marriage. The only national quoted opposed gay marriage in his own backyard. The last names of people who are quoted do not appear in the article; neither do their places of work (contrast with other article). Also note the phrase "gives a stuff" in this 'family' newspaper. But what grabbed my attention was the first line:
For the rest of Dubai Elton John's wedding is a minor event. But for one shadowy and little-understood minority of Dubaians, it is a very special day.
The author simply cannot explicitly acknowledge that there actually are gay people here. Whenever anyone is caught for 'immoral activities,' the media always describes them as some sort of freaks whose acts are alien to all that the local culture stands for, but a tiny aberration in an otherwise moral country. I suspect it is going to be a fair while before that changes.
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Well, it hasn't really changed that much in the West, outside of certain urbane urban areas.
Recall proper benchmarks and the like.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at December 23, 2005 12:31 PM
Compared to small-town Texas, relatively speaking, the second version of the column looks like it was published in Sodom.
Attitudes like this are barely a majority in the USA today:
"In our culture this is totally, totally, over 100 per cent forbidden," said UAE national Ali. "But I have no problem at all with what anyone does in their own country. It's up to him. It's his life."
Posted by: matthew hogan at December 23, 2005 02:03 PM