Our Rating: ★★★★☆
L Factor: Major lesbian content
Short Take: Focuses on the lives of Middle Eastern lesbians and gay men living in the United States and their struggles to mesh identities as both queer and Arab.
Alternate Titles:
Year: 2003
Duration: 57 min
Language: USA/English
MPAA: Not Rated
Director: Peter Barbosa, Garrett Lenoir
Writer:
Starring: Maher Sabry
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I Exist‘We exist. I’m your cousin, your sister, your aunt, your grandmother. I am your closeted, in hiding, woman that’s been there for thousands of years.’ This documentary focuses on the lives of Middle Eastern lesbians and gay men living in the United States and their struggles to mesh identities as both queer and Arab.

From Muslim Iranians, Egyptians and Palestinians, to a Jewish Syrian woman and an Armenian Greek Orthodox lesbian from Iran, the participants all share cultural and historical traditions with strong family ties and religions that view homosexuality as a sin. Often they are told that being gay is an Americanization, even though historically there were gay rulers in the Middle East before the influence of the West.

Maher recently moved to the US from Egypt, a stranger here, losing both family and career, but in fear of being imprisoned if he stayed. Mazdak’s mother told him that if they were still in Iran, she would be expected to kill herself for having a gay son (causing him to become suicidal himself). One woman was beaten by her brothers and feared for her life until she could move away. Others have come out to their families with varying results, bringing them in some cases closer, and in other cases much further away. Very interesting documentary that challenges stereotypes. (AB)