For the past few weeks, Michael Luongo has been shopping Gay Travels in the Muslim World around—wouldn’t you know it—the Muslim world. Luongo has said, in his blogs for The Huffington Post, that he’s found a pleasant reception in most places. He seemed delighted by Lebanon, and not thrilled but happy enough with visits Egypt, Syria, and Jordan.
His Egypt visit, for instance, was dampened by censors, but he was pleased by the recent (successful) publication of the gay-themed In the World of Boys, by Mostafa Fathi. His talk, which I missed, was apparently small but lively.
The hardest sell, he said, wasn’t anywhere in the “Muslim world,” but Israel. According to Luongo’s wrap-up:
Israel turned out to be the biggest disappointment, and a surprise. It proved impossible, despite five months of pre-planning, to have an event in the country. I had strongly hoped to have one here…. The issue was not the gay one, but rather the conflict between Muslims and Jews. It was the only country in the region where I sensed anger at my visit. I was able to have a meeting with activists in the Tel Aviv Gay Center…. One of the activists mentioned that any book which looks at Arabs and Muslims positively is automatically considered anti-Israel….
Luongo is back in New York now, but:
I am still hearing from young Egyptian journalists, some closeted, who had heard about my event and wished to cover it.
I don’t suppose any of this is ultimately surprising, but surely I need to get to know El Balad Books a little better.