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Gays blog for Mideast peace
Two American Jews living in Israel launch gay blog in a mission to unite Jewish and Arab gay men who believe in peace
MideastPiece.com is not your standard blog about the Middle East. One entry, under the headline "Lucky Pussy," shows a photograph of a fashionably unshaven, sunglasses-clad Israeli soldier holding a white kitten.  

 

A comment under the picture, posted by a visitor to the site, reads: "I wanna be that pussy."  

 

Another post, entitled GAY GAY GAY, shows a portrait of Lawrence of Arabia, in which the legendary British soldier looks unmistakably feminine.  

 

"Did you know Lawrence of Arabia, the hero of Arab nationalism, was probably a big homo, not to mention a lover of Mideast pieces like me and John?" wrote the blog's cofounder, Matt Lebow, in his introduction to the post.  

 

Along with John Leonard, Lebow set up MideastPiece.com with the mission of uniting Jewish and Arab gay men who believe in peace and building bridges between their communities.  

 

In their mission statement on the site, Leonard and Lebow state: "Soldiers are hot. They should not be killed in war. They should be trained – strenuously – and put on display for all to lust after. That's Mideast Piece."

 

The next item reads: "Gay men and their supporters face similar challenges all over the world. Mideast P ie ce is where a shared dialog can provide solutions, mutual support, and hope to gay men of the region – plus tips on where to get a great body wax."  

 

Launched 10 weeks ago, the blog has already recorded its 100,000th unique visitor.  

 

“We see our blog as serving an educational and inspirational function in a region where homosexuality is generally taboo,” said Leonard, a North Carolina native currently living in Tel Aviv.  

 

“We’re engaging gay Jews and Arabs in open dialogue about their lives and the similar struggles they face. There is no other blog doing this work, and certainly few gay blogs of any nature with the kind of diverse, frequently updated content we offer.”  

 

The blog is updated at least a dozen times a week and includes diverse original content such as gay Middle Eastern news and resource lists, culture, activism, photos, personal perspectives and tourism. It also runs news content from blogger partners in several countries in the region, including Turkey and the United Arab Emirates .  

 

Gay peace

More importantly, Leanard and Lebow told Ynetnews, the blog goes beyond the steamy photos and stories that characterize most gay blogs, and offers a platform to thousands of gay Arab men and women for whom coming out of the closet could be tantamount to death.  

 

“Though we use the Middle Eastern male as our focal point of admiration, our blog also appeals to women and minority groups everywhere, as evidenced by the comments our entries solicit. We include poetry, book and film reviews and human rights content of relevance to all kinds of people, not just gay men in the region,” added Lebow, originally from Vermont , now living in Jerusalem .  

 

In a report on a recent conference in Haifa convened by ASWAT, a group of Arab Israeli and Palestinian lesbians, the blog wrote about Samira, a Muslim woman with a Jewish girlfriend, who told the conference about the difficulties she faced when she told her family that she was a lesbian.  

 

We are "proud of these women and the important work they’re doing! It’s another example of how LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) rights work in the Middle East and brings people together - more PEACE in the Middle East!" wrote Lebow and Leonard in their posting.

 

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