Beirut, Lebanon: Bassell, Campy and Fierce

بيروت لبنان

Swimming in the waters of the Hezbollah!

Location: Beirut, Lebanon

Quick Facts:  A small nation in the Middle East bordering Israel in the South, Syria in the East and North, and the Mediterranean Sea in the West. Beirut is the capital and largest city in Lebanon.

The Food

I absolutely love the food in Lebanon- Lebanese people have a healthy Mediterranean diet. There is meat also such as the usual kibbehكبة, shwarmaشوارما, and many other fancier dishes. Some of my favourite vegetarian dishes include "baba ghanouzh"بابا غنوج which is made from roasted aubergine, and hummousالحمص with freshly made "aysh"العيش ( Arabic bread),  and a parsley salad  with tomatoes called Tabboulehالتبولة. There are a plethora of fun sandwiches which include meats and vegetables, including spicy peppers in them! wow!

The Sweets

The Arab world has a real sweet tooth! Many of the local sweets are to die for! Baklawa, Maamoul, as everything seems to have a strong sweet syrup or honey poured in it. Especially delicious when you drink " 'Ahwa al Arab "  Arabic coffee, which is thick, strong and handsome like the men here are!  Sometimes the coffee has " bi  Haal"الهيل , with cardamom- my favourite! Of course there is the usual sweet tea which is brought over by tea boys (الشاي صبي they are usually men) in small glasses - ready made with sugar.

The Drink:

Arabic Coffee- strong and thick and black served in "finjan"فنجان cups, either masbuta,مظبوطة which is a little sweet, or 'bedoon suker"بدون سكر  without sugar.
Lebanon is a nation with many faiths: Druze, Christians, and Moslems as well as a few others.
Beer is tasty and is found in Beirut (mostly in the Christian areas) and also strong alcoholic drinks like Aaraq,عراق which is wonderful when you drink it with a bunch of horny guys together!

Gay Life:

Homosexuality is still illegal in Lebanon, but in the more cosmopolitan areas like Beirut, one could find gay clubs, bars and lots of handsome guys - which are obviously gay, but it is not the same kind of scene like San Francisco, Amsterdam or London, in my opinion it is a bit more like Cape Town in a sense.

Exploring Gay Life, Love, & Friendship

My very kind friend Bassell,(Druze by faith), whom I stayed with, was very "out" and open with his sexuality. His boyfriend (A Christian) and other friends were also open about their sexual preferences. My friend's mother was very progressive and welcoming when we visited his village in the mountains outside of Beirut.
People in Lebanon are very accessible, and friendly. I had a wonderful reception from everyone I came across with- even the immigration agent was kind to me!

They wish to show their country in a positive light and not focus on the long civil war, which my friends didn't focus on during my stay with them. There are obvious tensions between certain factions, as one would hear on the news, but a wonderful example which I had experienced during my trip to the beach near Soarصور ( Tyre) in South Lebanon.

My friend, Bassell, (Druze faith)  took me, his boyfriend (Christian), and two other guys who were Moslem , all in one car together to the beach in South Lebanon. There were a few road checks here and there, but when we reached the area in South Lebanon, with Hezbollah flags and Iranian flags, and huge posters of Nasrallah and other leaders prominent in the area, the road check soldier, two handsome looking soldiers, made us all get out of the car and show our identification. Imagine what the soldiers had in their mind when a bunch of guys started coming out of the car, two of them came out with their campy, "fierce" attitude as they sashayed past the soldiers, flashing their id nonchalantly, wearing pink socks and tank tops, and finally when they came across my Hawaii Id, (I knew the soldier couldn't read it) they were all baffled and just let us through without a hitch.

Swimming in the beach was fun- It was interesting to watch Shi'ite women all clad completely with their hijab and full length clothing whilst their male counterparts were in swimming shorts and bare chested! (wow! hairy chested with nice built arms and biceps!  Who said there is no Eye candy in Hezbollah land?)  My friends, were either shirtless, (also eye candy !!) or wearing a huge towel wrapped around his head like Miss Baboo, showing off his latest Clinique sprays and sun block bottles. The water was wonderfully warm and the waves were fun to body surf in. It was strange enough to swim out past the shore line to look out in the distance at Israel, which was a 15 km drive away- "enemy" territory.

Due to the character of Lebanon with all the precarious political, and social digressions which keep the region rather unstable, the people have a rather fatalistic attitude and try to enjoy their life to the fullest, no matter what happened in the past, what  unexpected situation would be happening at the moment or what may happen in the future. My friends didn't focus on their country's past but tried to show a happy and good face. I also embrace this attitude in life which makes me feel a bit Lebanese myself.


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