Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-06-08
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  IDENTITY

Out in Lebanon
by Matt French
2010-01-01

This article shared 4190 times since Fri Jan 1, 2010
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


After about a month and a half of settling in to my new life in the Middle East, I thought it might be a good idea to give little vignette of my day-to-day routine in Beirut. I hope that it will shatter any preconceived notions that the majority of my friends and relatives ( and, perhaps, Windy City Times readers ) have about this great city.

—08:00: My alarm goes off, but it's just an act. In fact, I won't actually wake up until 9 or 9:30 ( and on those Monday mornings after a particularly rough weekend of partying, I won't even consider moving until 11 ) . Even if the Lebanese are horrible at making appointments on time, they do have one thing down: understanding the importance of "flex hours." In other words, you get to work when you get to work, and you don't even have to deal with anyone's sideways glances.

—09:00: As I am in the shower, I am plunged into darkness; the government-mandated power outage has caught me off-guard again. In my defense, the three-hour blocks where the government cuts power to various parts of Beirut are hard to keep track of; outages are scheduled for 6 a.m.-9 a.m., 9 a.m.-12 p.m., 12 p.m.-3 p.m. and 3 p.m.-6 p.m., but change every day. This "power-saving" initiative is supposedly helping the environment, but the fact that almost everyone has a gas-guzzling generator to keep the lights on even during the outages kind of defeats the whole purpose. Unfortunately, I have no generator, forcing me to finish my shower in the dark. Looks like I won't be shaving today! I finish the rest of my morning routine sans power, get dressed ( and no, I do not wear a flak jacket ) , and head out the door.

—10:00: I roll into work with a strong coffee and start to check my e-mails. Unfortunately, Internet in Lebanon is almost always subpar ( unless you're my friend Hicham, who works for the United Nations; surprise surprise—the UN has no problem footing the ridiculous bill for a decent DSL connection ) . I spend the next hour trying to send/receive messages, send responses and, perhaps, peruse a little on Facebook ( and, yes, the Lebanese do use Facebook as much as the overly addicted Americans do ) .

—14:00: After putting in some quality hours working for the LGBT cause, it's time for lunch. Beirut is great when it comes to eating out, and the Lebanese really take advantage of all the great cafés, restaurants, bistros and other eateries at their disposal. In fact, when I first arrived in Lebanon, TimeOut Beirut had just published its "Eating" issue. I have taken it upon myself to try and make it to the majority of the places listed in the magazine, but soon after I started the endeavor, it has become apparent just how daunting that task is; every new restaurant I go to always turns out to be my "new favorite" and I find myself going back again, and again, and again. But back to lunch. Usually I stick pretty close to the office; just down the street, there is a juice stand, where I can get fresh juice from almost every type of fruit, and from a wide variety of vegetables as well. After I've got my juice, I usually stop at Barbar. Barbar is somewhat of an institution here, but also happens to be one of the less health-conscious eating establishments. It's cheap, though; my lunch of a pita baked with cheese and tomato usually costs around $1.30 U.S. I also am aware that my dinner will probably be extremely healthful; a lot of Lebanese food is actually pretty good for you. I pay the cashier in U.S. dollars, which is another great thing for Americans in Lebanon: the exchange rate is fixed between Lebanese lira and U.S. dollars, and both currencies are accepted everywhere.

—15:00: Back to work, but the office ( which is connected to the only LGBT community center in Lebanon ) is starting to get a little loud with all the university students dropping by now that their classes are done. It always amazes me how, in a country that criminalizes "unnatural intercourses" ( i.e., gay sex ) , there is a sizeable amount of social space for LGBT individuals to live their lives as they want. In fact, the community center is pretty visible. ( People, including the government, know about it, making it a pretty popular hang-out ) . On days when I really have to focus, I grab my laptop and head to a nearby coffee shop for some alone time, but usually I love having all the noise. ( In Chicago, a lot of the time I was one of the only staff members in the International Programs office, which tends to get a little lonely. ) The uniquely confusing part of all the conversations going on around me is that almost every Lebanese is trilingual. ( Arabic is the official language of the country, but French and English are spoken a good part of the time. ) With conversations jumping between all three languages, I'll be extremely focused until I'll catch something interesting in English. Then all bets are off, and it's time for socializing. So for the rest of my day, it's a mix of socializing, working, drinking coffee, socializing, working, working, coffee, working, socializing … I think you get the picture.

—21:00: I pack up my bag and head to dinner. Depending on the day ( and who's at the office ) I head out with friends to a restaurant nearby. Again, dinner usually consists of something affordable, but still really fresh and healthy. After a glass of wine or two after dinner, I'll walk home to my apartment. This act alone defines me as a foreigner; shared taxis are extremely cheap in Beirut ( about $2 US Dollars for a ride from West Beirut to East Beirut or vice versa ) and everyone uses them…or drives their car. But with the weather being as nice as it is, I enjoy my walk. Just watch out when crossing the street for reckless drivers ( basically every Lebanese driver ) and mopeds zooming up and down every street and almost every time of day in a city where traffic lights are a mere suggestion of who should have the right of way, and where one-way streets are only a theoretical concept.

—00:00: After catching up with my roommate, I'll get ready for bed ( no fear of power outages this late at night ) . After a chapter or two of whatever book I'm reading, I'm knocked out cold. That is, until my alarm wakes me for another day in the city dubbed the "Elizabeth Taylor of the Middle East." Personally, I don't think there's a better description out there. But perhaps more on that in my next article…


This article shared 4190 times since Fri Jan 1, 2010
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Chicago Dance Crash celebrates 20th anniversary with 'Booms Day'
2022-06-24
Chicago Dance Crash's signature blend of concert and street dance styles paints a colorful picture of life, strife and relationship goals after the end of the world with Booms Day, a two-act, world premiere dance production ...


Gay News

Supreme Court strikes down N.Y. gun law; LGBTQ+ groups react
2022-06-23
On June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court eased restrictions on carrying firearms in public, continuing a trend by the court in recent years of weakening gun restrictions, according to Yahoo! News. The court's conservative majority ruled ...


Gay News

Photos of Chicago's Daniel Sotomayor included in new Smithsonian exhibit
2022-06-22
The Smithsonian's first gallery dedicated to Latino history and culture has opened its doors to the public at the National Museum of American History, NBC News noted. Billed as a precursor to a national Latino museum ...


Gay News

Governing body restricts trans swimmers; HRC responds
2022-06-19
On June 19, swimming's world governing body, FINA, voted to restrict the participation of transgender athletes in women's events and will look into creating an "open competition" category, Yahoo! News reported. FINA members voted 71.5% in ...


Gay News

Reality-TV couple convicted of committing fraud
2022-06-08
A jury found reality-TV couple Todd and Julie Chrisley guilty of fraud, including charges related to a tax evasion scheme that went on for years, according to NBC News. The couple, known for their USA Network ...


Gay News

Critically acclaimed Queer Serial History Podcast continues new series into Pride Month
2022-06-06
-- From a press release - In Queer Serial's radio drama style, NLGJA award-winning producer Devlyn Camp is bringing gay history to life with news & gay radio shows from the archives, unheard interviews between historian Will Roscoe & Supervisor Harry Britt, ...


Gay News

SAVOR Nautical-themed spots Lake House and The Hampton Social; restaurant news
2022-06-03
Remember when you had that spacious second lakefront home that you could visit during the summer—dining on seafood and kicking back on those lazy afternoons? Yeah … me neither. However, the Fairmont Chicago has brought the ...


Gay News

GLAAD: True LGBTQ allyship extends to all aspects of business, including political giving
2022-05-31
-- From a press release - Tuesday, May 31, 2022 (New York, NY)—GLAAD, the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, today announces GLAAD's Recommendations for Corporate Allies to educate corpo ...


Gay News

Okla. governor signs anti-trans, strict abortion measures
2022-05-27
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has recently signed a couple controversial measures into law. According to ABC News, Stitt has signed a bill requiring public school students to use only the bathroom of the sex listed on ...


Gay News

About Face to run immersive comedy about climate-change activism
2022-05-27
About Face Theatre brings its 27th season to a close with a world premiere comedy created by and starring the About Face Youth Theatre ensemble. Gayme Changers will run June 18-24 at The Den Theater, 1331 ...


Gay News

THEATER Lesbian-cruise drama 'Seven Days at Sea' running thru June 5
2022-05-25
Light and Sound Productions is running the world premiere of Seven Days at Sea, written by Martha Hansen and directed by Margaret Knapp, through Sunday, June 5, at The Edge Theater, 5451 N. Broadway. The performance ...


Gay News

NBA coach/former Chicago Bull pleads for gun control after Texas shootings
2022-05-25
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr discussed something besides basketball in his pregame news conference heading into Game 4 of the Western Conference finals against the Dallas Mavericks on Many 24, ESPN noted. "Since we left ...


Gay News

Gayla Turner talks new book uncovering her grandmother's secret queer identity
2022-05-23
In Gayla Turner's debut book, Don't You Dare: Uncovering Lost Love (BookBaby, May 24), she reveals her Grandmother Ruby's (1896-1977) century-old secret queer identity that she hid from the wider world. This revelation became c ...


Gay News

Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith named to Time100 List
2022-05-23
-- From a press release - St. Petersburg, FL — TIME named Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith to the 2022 TIME100, its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. The full list and related tributes appear in ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Broadway, JoJo Siwa, WEHO Pride, 'Jurassic World,' Madonna
2022-05-22
The Broadway League announced that all 41 Broadway theaters in New York City have extended the current mask requirement for audiences through at least June 30, Playbill noted. Charlotte St. Martin, president of The Broadway League, ...


 



Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.