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Looking for advice on how to make connections in the Gulf

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Last week was my six-month anniversary of moving to the Gulf, and in the last few days I've realized something important: I'm lonely because I don't have contact with other LGBT, face to face.

Let me be clear - I have excellent friends and colleagues, and most know that I'm gay, so it's not that I don't have people in my life that I can talk to.
I also have many gay friends online...in fact I have a gay friend who is in Egypt right now and we chat several times a week.

It doesn't help that last year, I was in a relatively good situation: I lived in Istanbul, just 300 metres from Turkey's largest gay bar, I had a gay flatmate and, most importantly, gay friends who I would see several times a week.

*le siiiiigh* I know I know, I'm actually a lucky gay who lives in the Gulf because I come from a western country where I am out to my family and friends, and I have lived as an openly gay man in two other countries before I came here.....so that is what makes my situation now so difficult. I'll explain it another way: if you grew up in a house with no microwave, then you don't know how convenient and wonderful having a mircowave can be. But, if you had no mircowave, then you bought one and enjoyed it's benefits for years, and THEN it broke/was stolen/was taken away/was outlawed, then of course you would miss the mircowave a lot and it would be frustrating and potentially very difficult to go back to a life without it.

So, I've realised I want more gays in my life (don't we all!) and I am aksing you, dear members of Ahwaa, for some advice.

When I lived in Budapest, I found a gay yahoo group and made my first contact with gays there that way (I didn't want to use any sites like manjam because I figured, even if I stated clearly that I was REALLY only looking for friendship and to join the community, I would have mostly encountered people looking for hook ups)(not that I have an issue with hooking up, but all I was looking for at that time was a way to join the community).

In Istanbul, I found groups like Lambda, and I was also lucky enough to be hit on by a guy who then introduced me to his friends.

Now here, in the Gulf.....as I said, I am out to most of my colleagues and almost all people I meet socially, and I was hoping that someone might then come up to me quietly and say "well, keep this quiet, but I think you should meet my colleague because he/she is also gay and....", but interestingly, people have only told me about gays living in OTHER gulf countries, doh!

The other situation I have is men who don't identify as gay, but hint to me that they are interested in "having fun" with me. I, however, don't want to enter into that kind of relationship (well, not withsome who doesn't identify somehow as 'queer' and would want to keep our activities hidden - I mean, hidden from our mutual friends).

Heck, I found myself thinking of using manjam, but that (and other) websites are blocked here....and I am a little suspicious of who may read what I type (I mean, I haven't even told any of you my nationality or which gulf state I'm in - am I being too paranoid?).

^ oops, I didn't think I would type so much. If you have read this far, then thank you, and if you have any advice on how I can better reach other gays in this part of the world, I would be eternally grateful :) .

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  • 17-24_f_w_h2_f1
    Experience

    Sadly, I don't have any advice. I feel you, though. I face somewhat the same thing. Never been part of a gay community except Ahwaa but through the internet I have an idea of what having a microwave would be like and I want it. Over here, I met my gay friends pretty much by chance. I had no idea that my friend was gay (or that I was) but then we ended up trusting each other enough and through her I met other gay friends. Thing is, over here people are so closeted that if you aren't already good friends with them, or obvious about your sexuality, then there isn't much chance of meeting gay people. It's sad but it's a big necessity here, being closeted that is. I plan on moving out somewhere where I can be openly gay and have a family. It seems impossible in the Gulf.

    Reply to Edel
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  • 12-16_m_b_h3_f4
    Experience

    It is difficult for newcomers to join these kinds of groups because it is very closed. In my group we have our reasons of course to keep it closed for security reasons and often we discourage friends from speaking about these parties and events in public so as not to put anyone at jeopardy. In Kuwait there are some places and parks that are more open and known in gay social circles but in my group we frequently change locations because if we use the same places over and over again, strangers start snooping around suspiciously and making the rest of us feel uncomfortable. There are a lot of these kinds of groups all over the Gulf I assure you and it's just a matter of time before you find yours :) just be super careful because you never know who you're really talking to. It took me years to find mine. I just kept asking around to those I knew were gay and they pointed me to these places, there were several and I ended up picking this group to stick with. We are now like nomads hopping from one place to the next.

    • 17-24_f_w_h1_f2
      Comment

      Well, I know that in it's the same case here in Saudi. The problem is, I'm not fortunate enough to join any! I agree that groups should be exclusive, very understandable but that makes people who don't have the "right" connections or social skills left behind and isolated *like myself here* I hope one day, I'll find a group like you, either here or abroad! :)

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  • 17-24_f_w_h1_f2
    Comment

    Well, I think what Edel and kuwaitilove have written is enlightening, I sadly have nothing more to add other than hang in there! :) Oh, social networking can be helpful such as twitter but you need to be careful, very careful.

    • I agree Saudi_a, and I also want to say that your words have enlightened me too - what you said about people who don't have the "right" connections are left behind, that made me understand just how many factors play a part in this too (class, education, money, access to privacy).

      You mentioned social networking....I actually created a facebook account for that very reason, but I promise to be veeeeeeeeeeeeeeery careful.

      I want you to hang in there too - I promise, if I hear of anything happening in Saudi, I'll let you know :) Heh - back in my home country, I actually met some gay Saudi men who told me that life was "fun" in Jeddah (but by "fun" I think they meant 'lots of easy sex')....I don't know anything about LGBT women in Saudi, though.

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    • 17-24_m_w_h4_f4
      Experience

      I used to meet some people online but now I stopped its way too risky. You never know who is really on the other side of the screen. Be careful out there.

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    • 17-24_f_w_h1_f2
      Comment

      Well, I can only give my experience. Normally, the more liberal individuals tend to come from richer backgrounds, that doesn't mean that lgbtq folks cannot come from other social classes but the fact remains; they assimilate in groups that aren't that friendly-which is understandable. In addition, you can jeopardize your "reputation" by associating with some groups. Furthermore, many lgbtq individual are mainly in it for the sex. So, it's a bit complicated and not as easy as men.
      I agree Adnan, it's risky but for the lack of other means, sometimes, you're fine with taking such a risk :/

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  • Default-avatar
    Anonymous
    Experience

    in Dubai there r 2 gay clubs, one is called submarine but its kinda of cheap and very rude staff, and there is sublime which is totally cool and gays and lesbians can dance with their partners. music is great, and staff r very friendly

    Reply to Anonymous
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  • Thank you Adnan, Saudi_a and Anonymous (great name!) for your posts - I'll be sure to check out Sublime the next time I'm in Dubai :)

    Also, since my last posting, I have starting chatting online with other people in this city, and even met one - sure, yes, ok, a lot of the guys are just interested in sex, that's the nature of the group I found them on, BUT...it's a start :)

    Reply to Archipelago
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  • HAHA! Yes, "microwaves" are amazing :) I sincerely hope that you get one when you move out of the Gulf.
    Last Sunday there was a gay pride march in Istanbul, and as I looked at my friends photos on facebook...well, thats why I wrote this post :/

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  • 17-24_f_w_h2_f1
    Comment

    Yep! Me too :D I want to go to a gay pride parade SO bad.

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  • "It seems impossible in the Gulf" - I agree, and yet, and yet...I hear whispers of gay parties and groups of friends, I just need to find a way to access them.

    Actually, I have had two experiences that were very interesting: once, in my local Carrefour Supermarket, the two men behind me purchased some kind of make up. I was a little surprised when I saw this, but I decided to be a little brave, so as I waited for the cashier to give me change, I asked the man "Excuse me for asking, but what _is_ that?". He told me it was a kind of eye make up, and I just lamely said "Oh, cool", and smiled at him. We locked eyes, and he gave me a knowing smile, but then I....just left the mall *face palm* "WHY?!!" I hear you ask? Because at that time I had a small eye infection so I wasn't feeling particularly up to trying to get a stranger to not only come out to me but also get his number to meet up later (how very vain, you are right).

    Second experience: I'm an English teacher, and one day, in the fifth week of a business course I was teaching, a man I'd never seen before came in (late) to my lesson. I was Not Amused At All that he had only then decided to show up, so actually I was a bit terse with him as he introduced himself. In the next hour, however, he proved to have better English than most of the other students, so I warmed to him. Then, during the break, as we were alone, he told me how he wouldn't work at that company forever, because his dream was to open a spa and beauty clinic. As he told me this, I guess I looked at him properly for the first time and I understood "Oh! He's gay too!" I guess he understood that about me too, because a few minutes later he told me "You should meet my friends, we can take you out". I gave him my number (as I do with ALL my students, so they can send me an sms if they are going to be late and so on), and he told me he would send me a message over the weekend.....sadly, he didn't send a message and he didn't come to any more of my lessons.
    ...so yes, technically he is no longer my student, BUT I am still teaching at that company, and I think it would be 1) unprofessional for me to contact him, even now, and 2) if anyone knew, it would start gossip that could be dangerous for both of us.

    Oops, I am over-sharing again, but this is my point (this time): the first guy and his friend at the supermarket, were going to a party, and my student mentioned his friend, and if only I had meet those two groups I could MOBILIZE THEM INTO A GAY SUPER-COMMUNITY!!!

    ...Ok, I think I need to calm down....

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  • Awh, thank you very much Kuwaitilove :) You (and Edel and Saudi_a) have actually made me feel really good, so please know that I appreciate all your words.

    The fact that groups like yours exist gives me hope, and at the same time I do understand (well, I _feel_ I understand) why members are so secretive, and change places often...and, if I were in your shoes, I am not sure I would want an obvious foreigner joining my group, because then we would attract even more attention :(

    .....but, I can still make friends, and that is what I will now (slowly, carefully) try to do :)

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