03 February 2011

Protesting Undercover in Egpt

According to Scott Long, the LGBT coordinator for Human Rights Watch, "a large number of LGBT Egyptians have joined the protesters who want to end Mubarak's rule in their country.

Long was quick to point out that they weren't marching and demonstrating as lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgenders.  Indeed, they aren't marching under a rainbow flag, or much of anything else that would identify them by their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.  That's not surprising because Egypt, like most countries in that reason, isn't exactly known (at least not officially, anyway) as a bastion of tolerance for LGBT people. 

So, while they are taking part in the protests and are often welcomed by the protesters and their supporters, they aren't doing so because they are LGBT people.  At least, the would never state publicly that they are.  But I can't see how an LGBT person can fight for human rights without making his or her identity or expression a part of it.  After all, if you're working for human rights, you're working for everybody, including LGBT people.  And we are affected as much as anyone by those rights we have and which are taken away from us.

But that's not the reason for my admiration of their courage or ambivalence about their role in the protest.  Nearly all are anti-Mubarak.  As well they should be:  Not only does he have a terrible (though not the worst) human rights record, he is basically a puppet of this country.  And this country's de facto colonialization of the country and the region are not going to win him any friends, particularly among the young.

What happens if or when those young people, like so many of their peers in other countries of that region, express their anger and disdain for "The Great Satan" of America by joining groups like the Muslim Brotherhood or immersing themselves in the more fundamentalist or militant sects of Islam?  Or, if they become so radicalized if only because they're young and have nothing to lose?  (Egypt has the highest percentage of unemployed college graduates of any country in the world.) Just as Communism can be very appealing to hungry people, so can any doctrine that posits itself as the foe of that which is destroying young people's dreams.

Remember, Egypt is in the heart of that part of the world where people believe that the enemy of your enemy is your friend.  So they'll work with the Muslim Brotherhood or some other such organization if only for their opposition to the US.   

And if groups like those gain power, where does that leave LGBT people?