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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An insight into a forbidden world...
In this haunting collection of seventeen short stories, editor Michael Luongo introduces us to the sights, sounds and smells of the Middle East with an interesting slant. Interweaving both the personal and the political, this book looks at homosexuality, Islam and the world we find ourselves in now seen through the personal experiences of gay men in the US, Europe, and...
Published on 25 Aug 2007 by Walter Hypes

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interest, if hackneyed in parts
The book is compilation of many men's stories which in some way link to the Muslim world. They vary: some are interesting, some amusing, some sordid, some are cliched, yet by and large they give insight into the politics and emotions which arise from homosexuality against an islamic backdrop. Definitely worth a read, if you're interested, but no great work of literature.
Published on 30 Dec 2009 by James Riley


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An insight into a forbidden world..., 25 Aug 2007
In this haunting collection of seventeen short stories, editor Michael Luongo introduces us to the sights, sounds and smells of the Middle East with an interesting slant. Interweaving both the personal and the political, this book looks at homosexuality, Islam and the world we find ourselves in now seen through the personal experiences of gay men in the US, Europe, and from the Middle East.

From Morocco to Mauritania, to Oman, and then on to Bangladesh, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, Gay Travels in the Moslem World gives us unique window into, what at first glance, seems to be a closed and deeply closeted world. Ranging from the sensual and the poetic to the informative, and also to the heavily didactic, this collection gets right to the heart of what it actually means to be "gay" in these Muslim societies.

In the first Story It All Began with Mamadou, a nice Jewish boy joins the Peace Corps and is posted to Mauritania, and it is here in his social and sexual interactions with the local men that he comes to realization that people who live elsewhere in the world live and deal with a far more fluid definition of sexuality than we experience in the West.

In David Steven's short offering I want Your Eyes, a young blond westerner leaves his hotel in a noisy suburb of Muscat, capital of the Sultanate of Oman. With his heart pounding and all around him the pulse of Hindi movie music and the yapping of wild dogs, he wonders the streets on the hunt for the touch of another man. Yet do these young men stare at him because he is different or do they gaze in desire?

In A Market and a Mosque, A Market and a Mosque, Martin Foreman takes us all the way to the provincial city of Sylhet and Bangladeshi sex industry, where he discovers that sex between men in this country may be widespread, but is unacknowledged. Here the men, who are quick to preserve the chastity and fidelity of women, turn to other men to slake their lust.

Perhaps relying on his own sense of survival, Michael Luongo gets himself into a sticky situation in Adventures in Afghanistan where he's in danger of being passed around "as a party favor at an Afghan orgy." But it is also here where he learns that Kandahar is reputed to be Afghanistan gay capital where "men like men." With so many men holding hands in Kabul, and from being wooed with flowers to stories of wartime bravery, his trip to this part of the world proves to be the most oddly romantic time he had ever had with other men.

Each story is infused with the myriad attributes of human emotions and also the need for survival in a hardscrabble and poverty stricken world where sex between men is often well accepted privately, but mostly frowned upon by the wider culture. One man finds love and commitment to a married man in Turkey, and even a husband of sorts, other men lust after rent boys and find sex touched with violence, all of it coming at an expensive price of either money, or life, or both.

The collection also touches on the political and the fusion of conflict and homosexuality during our cultural war with the Middle East and Luongo makes the case that homosexuality has been intertwined throughout all of the current issues and all of the main events. At the core of this book, however, is the issue of the "gay identity" and the wider difference between how the East and the West views homosexuality.

In the West such desires are considered to be the very definition of a person, they create an identity that separates him or her from the rest of society, yet in much of the Islamic world, these desires and acts are simply one aspect among others, "something people do but not something that defines a person above all other traits," and it is when the Western model of identity challenges this Eastern thought that the problems begin"

While the smaller stories provide small and poetic vignettes of anticipation, the longer stories tend to be more informative and instructive. In one story, a character remarks that "we don't have those kind of gay people here, the kind that demonstrate in the streets for their equality, petitioning their governments for the right to marry, setting up house together so the can live independently as a couple, by contrast men who have sex with men is something totally different."

The stories certainly tell us much about these cultures where everyone is expected to marry and raise children, and where familial respect comes not only with age, but also from adhering to cultural expectations. In the end, these are communal societies in which the cultural, religious and intellectual conditions are respected and a person does not head out into the world, like he does in the West, on his or her own to make an independent life for himself.

While some stories do come across as a little stronger and more compelling than others, this anthology generally offers up a fresh and unique perspective on the Moslem world, where for some, the Muslim religion and culture is just too toxic to non-marital sex and the idea of men who need to have sex with men. Mike Leonard August 07.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interest, if hackneyed in parts, 30 Dec 2009
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James Riley (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gay Travels in The Muslim World (Islam) (Paperback)
The book is compilation of many men's stories which in some way link to the Muslim world. They vary: some are interesting, some amusing, some sordid, some are cliched, yet by and large they give insight into the politics and emotions which arise from homosexuality against an islamic backdrop. Definitely worth a read, if you're interested, but no great work of literature.
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Gay Travels in The Muslim World (Islam)
Gay Travels in The Muslim World (Islam) by Michael Luongo (Paperback - 9 May 2007)
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