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BintElNas: Web of Dreams
Call for Writing  |  Guest Producer Yaffa
Distance and Belonging

Being 'bint el nas' means you are someone's daughter; having family, belonging to someone and having people who belong to you. For many Arabs, and the ethnic minority communities living in the Arab world, that belonging to the family and community is an essential component of cultural identity. For others, especially those born or living in the diaspora, the distance from family and a lack of community bring into sharp relief the ways in which their cultural identity is problematic.

Whether you live in the Middle East, North Africa or the diaspora, to be lesbian, bisexual or transgender is to create distance from your culture, a kind of internal exile or ghurbeh. And you are doing it to yourself, either because of the silences you may choose or need to maintain, or because there are areas of your life in which you need to make that impossible choice between being queer and being Arab; your cultural identity is further complicated. And yet, in that distance from your Arab culture you are finding yourself as an individual. You are also, hopefully, moving towards a sense of belonging to a lesbian/ bisexual/ transgender community, whether physically or via email and other forms of communication. And in that place you may build yet another expression of yourself as an Arab, however similar or different that is to your previous experience.

I think it is in such places where our identities are challenged that they are also forged. It these areas of belonging and not belonging to the people who make up our community (in its widest sense), and also how we each find or make a place where we can be ourselves, which are the focus of this issue of Bint el Nas.

Deadline for submissions: November 7, 1999

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