Background reading

There is lots of material available as background reading about sexuality, LGBTQ identity, the Middle East and international politics. Much of this material is controversial in one way or another. What follows is a selection of items we’ve come across. We don’t endorse the items we include here – they are listed so you can access some of the more influential works and make up your own mind.


Tikkun Special Web-Only Issue on Pinkwashing
Debate about pinkwashing between a range of Jewish-American writers

Judith Butler responds to attack: “I affirm a Judaism that is not associated with state violence”
Jewish-American, lesbian writer Butler defends her position on Israel-Palestine and support for BDS.

Palestine takes center stage at World Pride
Palestine Solidarity Campaign Director Sarah Colborne describes our successful participation in London Pride 2012.


An exchange of articles from the Jadaliyya website. We discussed the initial article in the group, and endorse Shotten and Maikey’s response.

Pinkwatching And Pinkwashing: Interpenetration and its Discontents
Commentary by Jasbir Puar and Maya Mikdashi on pinkwashing and opposition to it.

Queers Resisting Zionism: On Authority and Accountability Beyond Homonationalism
Response by Heike Shotten and Haneen Maikey

On Positionality and Not Naming Names: A Rejoinder to the Response by Maikey and Schotten
Puar and Mikdashi reply.


Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East, Brian Whitaker
Whitaker was the Middle East Editor for the Guardian from 2000 to 2007. His account is easy to read, but was also criticised by some authors as reproducing anti-Arab stereotypes.

Desiring Arabs, Joseph A. Massad
A more heavyweight history of Western attitudes to Middle Eastern sexuality. Detailed and fascinating, but makes some controversial claims.

Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World 1500-1800, Khaled El-Rouayheb
Academic history text: undermines the myth that Muslim societies have always been homophobic.

Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times, Jasbir Puar
Analyses how the US government has attempted to use LGBT people to build support for its foreign policies of war in the Middle East. A work of “queer theory” – the sometimes jargon-heavy academic trend. Puar’s book is influential, and one of the few addressing these important topics, but many people also disagree with its conclusions.