'One good song can do more than 5,000 protests': the queer revolution in the Middle East

Mashrou’ Leila were one of the biggest bands in the Middle East, with a lead singer, Hamed, who is the most prominent openly gay rock star in the Arab world. Known globally, their gigs were regular sell-out successes until an event at their 2017 Cairo concert changed everything. Playing to 35,000 people, the band looked out at a sea of swaying flickering lights, including an Egyptian fan flying a rainbow flag. This simple act would later be described by authorities as ‘inciting debauchery’, and ultimately catapulted the band, the fan and others into a tragic series of events. 

While this violent repression against the LGBTQ+ community in the Middle East mirrors a global trend, creatives on the frontline are unified in their resistance

If you have been affected by the issues raised in this film, help and support is available. In the UK, Hopeline UK, call 0800 068 4141, papyrus-uk.org.  In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

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