Gay Pride Day in Egypt–May 11, 2003
Red Is the Colour.
February 6, 2003
Several small groups of gay men in Egypt have decided
collectively to celebrate 11 May as Gay Pride Day. Although they will be also
remembering the anniversary of the notorious police arrests and beatings
conducted during the infamous raid on the Queen Boat in the early hours of 11
May 2001, they will be also be celebrating Gay Pride! A clear demonstration
that Egypt’s gay community is resisting repression, fighting back and still
very much alive.
On that day they are asking
people to come out on to the streets wearing red, though enthusiasts
may well decide not to hide their red clothes in the closet for the rest of
the year. It’s a colour they hope will be worn in memory of all those who
lost their liberty and were victims of state repression in recent years and
also as a clear sign of visibility and resistance.
Red is a particularly appropriate colour. It is the
colour of blood and repression but it is also vibrant and can be worn as a
clear symbol of defiance. But it is not so exclusive as the rainbow colours as
to make it easy for the police to retaliate with arrests.
However, people are advised to be careful about what red
clothes to wear and where to wear them. Egyptians in Upper Egypt, including
Luxor, Aswan and especially Asyut should be particularly careful.
Elsewhere Egyptians are also urged to consider carefully
what red clothes to wear. Red underpants or trousers or anything particularly
unusual such as red hankies hanging from back pockets might be used by
Egyptian police, especially when the courts seem so ready to accept the
flimsiest of evidence, to incriminate individuals who might otherwise escape
arrest. However bright red shirts could be worn with less risk and in any
number they would be a very visible symbol of open defiance to Egypt’s
apparatus of repression.
Tourists are requested to wear as
much red as possible, whether they themselves are gay or straight, in
sympathy with the gay struggle for freedom in Egypt. They are extremely
unlikely to be arrested simply for wearing red clothes and the sight of groups
of tourists roaming the streets dressed in red will be a sure sign of the
strength of international anger at the State’s homophobic policies that have
seen hundreds of gay Egyptians arrested.
One of our GayEgypt.com Editors,
though the rest of us feel it a fanciful notion, insists we suggest that a
clenched fist rested discreetly next to one’s drink at a table could also be
a sign, not just of open-mindedness on sexuality, but also of liberal
reform-minded opposition to Egypt’s corrupt and repressive ancien regime.
But we are all, without exception, delighted by the news
that the colour red is rapidly being adopted by
Egypt’s gay community. We don’t know quite how and where the idea
originated. We wish we could claim credit for it but we can’t. We are very
happy however to give the “Wear Red for Gay Freedom” campaign ( we can’t
resist the temptation to use a tentative temporary name for this as yet
unnamed spontaneous movement ) all the publicity we can.
So, apart from being a vivid vibrant colour of
resistance, does red have any special place in Egypt ? It certainly appears
so. Red was the favourite colour of Cleopatra and Egypt has both the Red
Pyramid and of course the Red Sea with its redish coral reefs and teeming
shoals of red fish. It is the colour of the Egyptian national football team
and of the traditional tarboosh. It even comprises one third of the national
flag. And there is, though set against these other national symbols it might
easily be sadly overlooked, also a beautiful Hibiscus flower known as the
“Cairo Red”. Wear one only at your own risk!
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