Wednesday, April 09, 2008
In my family, the person I am closest to is no doubt my sister who is next youngest in age to me (she's 7 years older). She and her husband lived in various places of Ontario over the years and for the last decade or so, they have been in Nova Scotia. She and I were the ones who looked after everything last fall when our mother moved into the special care home. We both took the week off, helped mom get settled into her new digs, and packed up her old place. A few months ago, my sis moved to Edmonton, Alberta, in search of greener pastures. Now she tells me that her husband has landed a job in the Middle East, and not in one of the more "forward thinking" locales in that region. For them, though, it's an opportunity that can't be passed by.
They'll live in a compound reserved for foreigners and will have somewhat limited contact with locals. Frankly, I'm not sure how long she will be able to tough it out. All she sees right now are sun-filled days by the pool and visits to the gold souk. She asked me if I would visit, and I immediately responded, "No way!" And it's true. While that whole region holds a certain fascination for me, I would not step foot in the country where they will be. It's incredibly fundamental and very hostile toward gays. I considered meeting her in a neighbouring country or city such as Qtar or Dubai, but I'm not sure I could even do that. I would not want my hard-earned tourist dollars to support any regime that terrorizes, jails, and kills it's gay citizens - not to mention the deplorable conditions reserved for women and migrant labourers (read: slaves).
And it sucks, because I really would like to visit these places and certainly go there to see my sister and brother-in-law. It sucks that the fundamentalists have taken over in so many places in the Middle East, with governments now vying to outdo each other in a bid to become the most "pious." There was an article on this topic just yesterday in the International Herald Tribune.
I've come to the conclusion that the only place in the region I would go to meet my sis for a visit would be Israel, someplace I'd also like to see and where, for the most part, they treat their gay citizens with respect and dignity. She would probably appreciate the break, too, doffing the veils and walking around in freedom. Tel Aviv has a great beach and lots of nightlife... We'll see...