In response to Egypt’s recent sentencing of four men to 3-8 years in prison for ‘homosexual acts’ (categorized as “debauchery” under Egyptian law), we talked to various members of Cairo’s LGBT community to find out common misconceptions that Egyptians have about gay people.
Our question, “Which misconceptions about gay people in Egyptian society piss you off the most?” was met with a long, emotional list of damaging myths, underscoring the rampant homophobia in Egyptian society today.
We asked six Egyptian LGBT individuals, all of whom will remain anonymous for safety reasons, to tag team answers in response to each point.
1. Homosexuality is a mental disorder
Anonymous response #1- “Homosexuality was classified as a disease until 1970-1973 when the American Psychiatric Association (APA) declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder simply because they could not find any scientific basis for regarding homosexuality as a disorder or abnormality. The World Health Organization finally followed and declassified it as a mental illness in 1990.
My question is: Do you have any proof that it is a disease? More importantly do you have a cure?”
Anonymous response #2 – “Homosexuality isn’t a disease nor a mental disorder. It’s how someone is naturally created.”
Anonymous response #3- “This is just plain ignorance. This type of hate is sociological not even religious!
First, I’d start off by saying that regardless of the American Psychological Association (APA) declaring it’s not a disease, a lot of doctors are actually working on tracing and mapping the gene.
A disorder is defined as such when it’s harming the person and how can loving someone be harmful to you or even punishable by God? How can God punish love?”
Anonymous response #4- “Any person who is educated on the topic of homosexuality knows that the consensus of the global scientific community is that homosexuality is not a disease or a mental disorder. To say otherwise is simply willful ignorance rooted in anti-gay prejudice. It only takes few minutes to educate yourself online.”
2. Homosexuals can be cured
Anonymous response #1- “Patients want to be cured – that’s why there are hospitals and clinics. Depression makes people sad and so they go to doctors to be happy and normal, diseases make people unhappy.
Being gay doesn’t make us sad, people like you do. As well as social norms that say we have to act in a certain way otherwise we are considered an outcast. A pariah.
A “cure” is not for us, actually, because we didn’t choose to be gay, but you choose to hate and pity us. You chose to see us as patients because you are too afraid to think we are normal. A different normal than what you are used to. A normal that will change how you see the world.”
Anonymous response #2- “When you say someone needs to be cured, you are assuming that there is something wrong with them that needs to be cured. There is nothing wrong with being homosexual. It is harmless and I am happy. It’s no one else’s business.”
3. Homosexuality is unnatural
Anonymous response #1- “No one should dare to say that it’s unnatural because homosexuality is found in many species of animals. Accepting or rejecting homosexuals is a sociological norm just like any other type of prejudice because there used to be a time when the love between two men was sacred and holy .”
Anonymous response #2- “Scientists have observed homosexuality in thousands of animals. How can it be unnatural if it is found in nature?
Some people try to say that it isn’t natural because only males and females can reproduce. Yes, obviously this is true. But homosexuality only occurs in small percentages of populations. According to many scientists, it it may offer evolutionary benefits to the survival of species.”
4. Homosexuals are like rapists, child molesters or prostitutes
Anonymous response #1- “The difference between homosexuals and rapists or child molesters is that homosexuality occurs consensually between two adults. Rape is forced. Child molestation is also forced (involving an imbalance of power between child and adult) and involves a minor.
The difference between homosexuality and prostitution is that it is a choice to sell your body for money, whereas homosexuals cannot choose to change their sexual orientation. No one chooses who they love.”
Anonymous response #2- “If being straight is like prostitution as well… then maybe.”
5. Homosexuality is a choice and it’s just about sex
Anonymous response #1- “Homosexuality isn’t a choice for those who are really homosexual.
Some people do it for the sake of sex because its easier to be with the same sex in Egypt. But those people I don’t consider homosexuals. They just lack intimacy and dig for it somewhere they think it’s “safe” because the culture here is hard to deal with. However, real homosexuals feel emotions for each other just like straight couples.”
Anonymous response #2- “I think Egypt is the biggest proof that homosexuality is not a choice because under all of these societal and political pressures wouldn’t it be easier to become straight if it were a choice? Why would someone deliberately put themselves in jail?”
6. Gay people are out to get your ass and will hit on anyone of the same sex
Anonymous response #1- “Being gay doesn’t define how someone acts. I mean straight people can also be promiscuous. It’s all based on personality. I could be straight and hit on everyone and I could be gay and do the same. And I can still be quite the opposite. Hitting on everyone doesn’t mean gay.”
Anonymous response #2- “I hate that people think that we are harassers and without morals! While actually I do believe that we are the people with the most morals because we ALWAYS have this secret code not to hit on a straight person!”
7. “Oh, you’re gay – you like men? Why don’t you just get a sex change and become a woman then.”
Anonymous response #1- “Lot of ignorants when I tell them that I’m gay they’re like ‘Oh! You’re gay so you’re interested in men… Why don’t you do a sex change then and become a woman!?’
My response is ‘No! I’m gay which means I’m a guy who’s interested in guys… I’m happy with my gender and I have no interest at all in becoming a woman or wearing dresses or high heels, I love being a guy, wearing guy clothes playing cards I’m just simply like any other straight guy I just love men, transsexuals exist and I respect them I’m just simply not belonging in their category'”
8. Gay people are just gay because they can’t find a person of the opposite sex
Anonymous response #1- “Being gay is not a choice, so it doesn’t make sense that homosexuals turn to the same sex just because the opposite sex doesn’t seem interested. Moreover, many gay people are actually attractive and good looking so it’s not a matter of looks but a matter of feelings. Gay people can’t develop feelings towards the opposite sex because their nature stops them from doing so.”
9. People “become” gay because of trauma or unusual situations during childhood
Anonymous response #1- “If, by “individual circumstances”, you mean sexual abuse or any kind of abuse, then I can tell you that you are probably very wrong. There are a lot of people who have been sexually abused and didn’t turn out gay. I am a lesbian and I can tell you that I was not exposed to any kind of unusual circumstances.
My sisters and I went through the same things and they are straight and I am not. For years, I thought that there was something wrong with me because of people like you. Did you know that there is a very high rate of suicide among LGBTs because we simply believe people like you? But, at the same time, you don’t offer a logical solution for us.”
10. You can’t be gay and religious
Anonymous response #1- “I know my fair share of religious LGBT people.”
Anonymous response #2- “As for religion, homosexuality, believe it or not, is NEVER mentioned in ANY of the holy books. Homosexuality is not forbidden in the Bible and I actually asked a minister regarding this issue. Homosexuality is not mentioned by name in the Quran. A lot of scholars are arguing that people interpreted the verse wrong and homosexuality itself was not meant as a sin.”
WE SAID THIS: Don’t think it’s possible to be Muslim and gay? Think again with our Q&A w/an Egyptian Muslim lesbian.