Fight and Flight

The challenges of being queer in Palestine

31 August 2021
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In his poem “Seventh Circle of the Earth”—a reference to Dante Alighieri’s fourteenth-century epic Divina Commedia, in which gay men inhabit the seventh circle of hell—the Vietnamese-American poet Ocean Vuong responds to the 2011 killing of Michael Humphrey and Clayton Capshaw, a gay couple in Dallas who were stabbed and bludgeoned to death before their apartment was set on fire. The violence, however, is a brief punctuation in a tender account of love and intimacy:

Another torch
streams through
the kitchen window,
another errant dove.
It’s funny. I always knew
I’d be warmest beside
my man.

Samar Hazboun’s photo series Errant Doves, the title of which is inspired by Vuong’s poem, depicting the queer community of Palestine over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, takes a similar approach. Although Hazboun’s subjects live their lives surrounded by violence—stemming from both the Israeli occupation of their homeland and society’s rejection of their sexuality—she focusses on that which remains despite the hardships they face: their creativity and resolve to live lives of their own choosing.

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    Samar Hazboun is a Palestinian photographer based in Bethlehem. She worked as Agence France Presse's photo editor for West Asia and North Africa for four years. She has received grants from the Magnum Foundation, AFAC and Prince Claus Fund. She won a Pollux Award for her self-portrait work and an award from the Khalil Al-Sakakini Centre for Hush, a project on gender-based violence in Palestine.

    Keywords: COVID-19 Palestinians queer rights