In a country under an ongoing war, where homosexuality is criminalized by law, where Fedaa Aietani was arrested by the rebels for writing what they described as “unbecoming of the revolution”, where Dana Bakdounes was verbally attacked and abused for throwing away her veil by those who are supposed to be “freedom fighters” despite the fact that she protested against Assad’s regime while most of her attackers were still hiding in fear; in a country where Islamism is growing, writing for a gay magazine is nothing less than extreme danger.
Mawaleh’s contributors are defying everything; they are defying the laws, the Syrian community, the traditions, the war, the autocratic regime, and armed men on the both sides of the ongoing war in the country. They are doing all that while they are still in Syria, risking being hunted down by any homophobic person around them; there are many of those in Syria now.
“Hey and its really nice that you’re starting this… it’s a huge step… now… I had a bit of cold feet because of the political situation and if god forbid someone of the guys working with you or even you got caught because of this magazine and was asked for names of people working with you then I’ll be doomed…” This is what Loulia Dawood sent me on the first message after suggesting that she writes for Mawaleh. It is true! All of us will be doomed if we don’t take precautions. We have to, and it is the worst and hardest thing to do; I know it by experience.
Living in this growing fear of being caught is energy-draining. You are supposed to be cautious and observant to all your surroundings all the time. This is why I did not suggest the magazine to anyone before. I know the risks very well, but at the same time, I know how to work around them, and for now, I know how to protect other contributors’ identities.
Despite all the risks, we still have hopes. The war will be over no matter how long it takes. Afterwards, we will have to join other Syrians once more to fight for a secular democratic Syria, where all Syrians will have their rights, queers included.