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The Queer Arabs Posts

Episode 214 [in English]: Hannah Moushabeck

Hannah Moushabeck is a second-generation Palestinian American author, editor, and book marketer. She is the author of Homeland: My Father Dreams of Palestine, a children’s book about three girls who experience Palestine through bedtime stories. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts on the homelands of the Pocumtuc and Nipmuc Nations.

Hannah talks about growing up in  New York, Massachusetts, and the UK while her family ran an Arab independent publishing house. She discusses how representation in children’s books has and hasn’t changed since her childhood, with a clear uptick in queer stories but very few Palestinian stories.

Hannah recounts the variety of reactions Homeland has received. She’s had her book banned and has been rejected from school talks over “controversy,” but also witnessed joyful responses from child readers and heartbroken responses from adults. 

We discuss the impossibility of “appropriate” pro-Palestinian protest in a system that doesn’t want it to exist, and how we’ve seen every action either trivialized as useless or demonized as extreme (BDS falling into both categories).

Hannah also tells us her queer pandemic love story and what it was like coming out as a full-fledged adult. She also discusses how she’s found intersections between the Fat Acceptance movement and anti-racism, recognizing that body hierarchies are built around European ideals, even though our colonized cultures internalized them.

Visit Hannah’s website here

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Episode 213 [in English]: Yaffa

Yaffa is a trans displaced Palestinian activist, engineer, death and birthing doula, peer support specialist, and artist. They are the Executive Director of Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity and recently released their book of poetry Blood Orange, raising funds for queer and trans Palestinian work. 

In this episode, Yaffa reads a poem from Blood Orange, and we reflect on the cognitive dissonance of diaspora, wondering “which cut from your paycheck killed your cousin.” Yaffa discusses their work in peer support, and how we can find alternatives to an individualized, compartmentalized, escapist framing of self care, witnessing each other’s realities while removing the expectation to immediately change things.

They also explain how their work as a death doula informs their perspective on the importance of separating our understanding of death from tragedy. Death is a natural, transitional process, and isn’t in itself the tragedy of a genocide. Rather, the tragedy lies in the unjust ways in which death is forced upon people prematurely. 

They talk about their work with MASGD and how using defining “Muslim” broadly by racialization rather than faith allows the organization to flexibly respond to the needs of various oppressed groups. They also discuss ethical funding models within a nonprofit structure, and how only taking funds without conditional strings attached can better equip an organization for quick mobilizations and shifts of focus, as demanded by the needs of a community.

We also talk about fruits (Yaffa oranges, watermelons as a Palestinian symbol, and more)!

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Episode 212 [in English]: Hijab Butch Blues

Lamya H., author of Hijab Butch Blues, joined us for a wonderful episode!

Lamya talks about the line between invisibility and hypervisibility as a brown person in hijab in the US, alternatively overlooked or policed. She discusses her path into Queer Muslim community as well as her mixed experiences in both Arab and Desi spaces as someone born in a South Asian country who grew up in the Gulf. We also talk about the differences between culturally- and religiously-specific queer communities and the issues with policing borders around identity.  They also mention how quickly Queer Muslim communities have become more public-facing in the past few years and express a desire to retain queer practices of trust-building and protection with that generational shift. 

Lamya also explains her view of writing as a political and cathartic act and what it’s like to write a bestselling memoir as someone who didn’t previously identify as a professional writer. They also discuss how refusing to explain everything is a political choice and why they chose Leslie Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues as their memoir’s namesake.

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