The current controversy around the most recent shutdown of another gay club Ghost in a vibrant city like Beirut is sad and discouraging. For a country that boasts its freedom of speech and eccentric way of living, Lebanon is failing to carry that banner. The mayors, parliament and ministers from a municipal level and a broader governmental level are focusing on implementing health laws against smoking indoors, which is failing miserably, and maintaining a law that violates human rights and freedom of sexual orientation, rather than focusing on the current security crises that is ongoing and rampant.
Dubai has outpaced us with every industry; they even have clubs that are gay friendly, like sublime and submarine. I recently found out about one club has recently opened outdoors and has the gay flag right outside, I haven’t verified that since it has been many years since I was able to visit the city. But from an economic perspective Gay tourism is a huge industry and Lebanon has just obviously taken another hit to its economy. Ghost is not actually running the economy but the message that gay tolerance in Lebanon is dying.
What Ghost meant to the LGBT community was a lot of things. It meant that I had the freedom to go and dance with my partner, to mingle without having to be persecuted for my sexual orientation. It meant that that there are alternative lifestyles in this city. I was a big fan of Acid though, which essentially impacted the man I am today, and when it shut down it broke a little piece of me. I was never a fan of ghost and its stench of sweat and short skirts and hip shaking men but I accepted it as it was. The Lebanese gay society is evidently suppressed and needs a place to vent that frustration and closing a nightclub like this will only lead to a negative outcome and it will not help the Dekwaneh residents in any way let alone build their moral standards.
The real issue is the indescribable frustration the gay society has towards the government (or a lack of) and civil society for failing to protect minorities’ rights. I am hoping that Helem and other advocates of LGBTQ rights are gearing up for a big fight. Another fight that will get the people of Dekwaneh to reverse the Municipal Mayor’s decision (which had no real warrant in the first place). I hope that enough media gains traction on this issue to wake up the general public. Fight Back in any way you can.