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Columbia professor’s ‘gay international’ conspiracy is still hurting LGBTQ people

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Columbia University School of Professional Studies

[Editor's Note: due to fear of backlash, the author of this Op-Ed wishes to remain anonymous]

“For the Gay International, transforming sexual practices into identities through the universalizing of gayness and gaining ‘rights’ for those who identify (or more precisely, are identified by the Gay International) with it becomes the mark of an ascending civilization, just as repressing those rights and restricting the circulation of gayness is a mark of backwardness and barbarism.” – Desiring Arabs, p. 208

Those are the very off-putting and paranoid words of Joseph Massad. Massad, you might think, is some kind of paranoid alt-right thinker. Yet, he’s not.

He is a full professor of Arab politics – not of gender and sexuality mind you – at Columbia University and the author of the article “Re-Orienting Desire: The Gay International and the Arab World.”

Massad’s “Gay International” is the abstract, yet organized alliance of Western-peddled organizations deliberately poisoning Arab culture.

It is the latest form of Western imperialism and it must be stopped. It also demonstrates an Orwellian phenomenon to politicize the pursuit of gay rights as something nefarious and underhanded.

His essay came in response to the arrest of the so-called “Cairo 52” – 52 gay men arrested by Egyptian police at a disco boat party on the Nile River in May 2001.

Massad paints the gay victims of state suppression in the Arab World as “native informants” at one point in his manifesto.

It would be one thing if we had to lament this article as a sad relic of the past, but its influence is still strong in the halls of Columbia University.

It informs other ideas from radical “queer theorists” who simultaneously deride the political use of gays, but do it themselves for their own purposes.

Massad’s sensational theory is the core of his other, heavily politicized ideas about gender and sexuality that Columbia University has somehow continued to sponsor over the 15 years since he first published the article that became the long-form book “Desiring Arabs.” In that book, he sermonizes readers with an extended rant about Western imperialism using gay rights to foment “incitement to discourse” in the Arab World.

“Indeed, it is exactly these reactions that anchor and strengthen and drive the Gay International’s universal agenda,” Massad writes in Desiring Arabs, p. 174.

“In a world where no one questions identifications, gay epistemology and ontology can institute themselves safely. The Gay International’s fight is therefore not an epistemological one but rather a simple political struggle that divides the world into those who support and those who oppose ‘gay rights.’”

The pursuit of gay “rights” (his skeptic quotes, not mine) is condemned here. Massad simultaneously paints a serene picture that gays outside the West enjoyed sexual freedom before Westernized ideas of sexual identity popped up and tacitly endorses the Egyptian (in fact, wider Arab) crackdown on anyone who practices gay sex. Massad here uses gays as a tool and mocks their liberation, something he continues to do unchallenged from his soapbox at Columbia.

It is time Columbia removed this clearly homophobic slander from its illustrious halls of study. It has no role in contemporary gender and sexuality studies, especially from a charlatan like Joseph Massad.