In its last Tuesday issue [22 September 2009], Al-Akhbar carried a short news story about “Helem,” an organization dedicated to fighting for the rights of homosexuals in Lebanon, which soon became an organization to combat all forms of discrimination.
The news story covered Helem’s protest against the “International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association” conference to promote gay and lesbian tourism in Tel Aviv. Helem felt that human rights are indivisible and that it is impossible to defend the rights of homosexuals and be silent about the Israeli violations in occupied Palestine.
The story is not, in itself, of paramount importance. What is more significant is a message left by a visitor to Al-Akhbar‘s Web site. Here is the text of the message:
I always loved the Resistance and was thrilled about its exploits. I waited for its news on TV like everyone else. Everyone watching it would jump up and down and clap, but I would just sit there, sad and silent. I kept my feelings to myself because, if I expressed them, people would laugh at me: how can a boy with soft features and a feminine voice be a supporter of the Resistance, the symbol of manhood! I remained silent until the summer of 2006 when the war broke out and houses were destroyed and people were slaughtered. Then, the scene around the TV changed.
Yesterday’s supporters fell silent, as voices began to blame the Resistance fighters, hurling accusations and inciting sectarian hatred against them, waiting to get rid of them. Their faces were cold despite the flames of the war. For the first time I felt I was not the only orphan. The fighters were also oppressed like me. I wanted to scream. I no longer cared about the mockery of people because they had become silent. But will the fighters, who belong to a religious organization that denies the right of homosexuals to live in peace, respond to my scream? I didn’t think long and hard about it — I felt a great power in me that pushed me to volunteer to work on the ground and that gave me the will and energy to strive for victory no less than any Resistance fighter. And, for the first time, I saw the reality of these fighters without any fear and illusions. They had more goodness and humanity than I ever imagined. And when an official of Hezbollah thanked us for our humble effort, I felt happiness like never before, and I realized that the common language of the oppressed united us more than any other consideration. . . .
The message is touching in more than one way. It reveals a complicated side of Hezbollah’s relationship with its constituency — a side that Hezbollah has not necessarily thought about. Nevertheless, the party, no matter how powerful it is, will not be able to continue to grow unless it takes this kind of message into account.
The original article عن رسالة appeared in the pro-opposition Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar on 24 September 2009. This translation is based on the abbreviated version first published by Mideastwire on 28 September 2009.