the hidden life of Moroccan gays
“My value as a man, my value as an Arab, my value as a muslim, was situated between my legs. And my sisters had the honour of the family between theirs’. It is with this quotation that Catherine Vuylsteke starts her book on the hidden life of gays in Morocco. She traveled from Casablanca to Marrakesh and from Torremolinos to Paris and Brussels, portraying gay Moroccans.
Marrakech evokes images of oriental romance, steaming hammams and tales from a thousand and one nights. ‘Among Men’ does not seek to prove that gay love is more common in Morocco than in the rest of the world. Rather it describes the way in which society deals with its gays and how this affects their self image. Sexual relationships are possible, coming out is not for its consequences are too dire: dishonoring the family, falling victim to abuse, being ostracized, ending up in jail.
Sexual pleasure is almost always hidden. Gays live in two worlds, in a schizophrenic reality. Their are many ways of fleeing: some surf on the internet, searching for other gays to date or to confide in. Others find another world in books, or merely in their own mind, and ultimately some manage to flee to a free Europe.
Catherine Vuylstekes portrays these men of all social classes, educational backgrounds and ages in a vivid, yet empathic way. She manages to win their confidence and let their hearts speak. For many of them this is the first time they confide in someone. For in all of their lives, they’ve learned one thing very well: to keep silent.