Monday, April 2, 2018 (All day)
40 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Mr. Gay Syria - Directed by Ayşe Toprak - 84 mins - Arabic In focusing his attention on the competitors of Mr. Gay Syria, director Ayse Toprak shatters the one-dimensional meaning of “refugee”. Using the pageant as a means of escape from political persecution, the organizer Mahmoud — already given asylum in Berlin — hopes to offer the winner a chance to travel as well as bring international attention to the life-threatening situations faced by LGBT Syrians. This film is presented with English subtitles. Pluralism Project Summary: Approximately forty people attended the screening of the documentary “Mr. Gay Syria” at the Brattle Theatre, which was co-hosted by the groups Queer Muslims of Boston and the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. The audience was slightly more racially diverse than the average Brattle theatre crowd. This movie screening was one of many around the Boston area that took place as part of the annual event, Wicked Queer: The Boston LGBT Film Festival. The film follows a community of gay Syrian refugees living in Istanbul. Mahmoud, a former refugee who is now a citizen of Germany, organizes a competition to send a Syrian refugee to the Mr. Gay World pageant in order to raise awareness of the plight of LGBTQ refugees. While homosexuality is not explicitly criminalized in Turkey, anti-LGBTQ sentiment is rising dramatically. In one scene the footage is briefly distorted as police in riot gear breakup a gay pride parade, and the camera crew is forced to run to safety. The film makes clear how tightknit and mutually supportive the gay Syrian LGBTQ community is, and also how precarious their lives are. Everyone featured in the documentary is seeking to immigrate to a country better LGBTQ rights and protections. Some succeed, and others do not. At the same time as these men want to live their lives more freely, they also mourn for the Syria of their youth and are wary of rising anti-refugee sentiments in the west. As one man jokes to another, “Perhaps we should seek asylum on Mars.” The subject of the movie was generally heavy but included light-hearted and even joyous moments that were accompanied by the audience’s laughter. However, by the film’s end the mood in the theatre was very somber, and several people in the audience were crying. This summary was written by a Pluralism Project staff member who attended the event.