Coming out: “Family Secrets” challenges homosexual stereotypes in the Middle East

Published November 26th, 2013 - 11:11 GMT
The official poster for the controversial film "Family Secrets." (Image: Facebook)
The official poster for the controversial film "Family Secrets." (Image: Facebook)

Being gay in the Middle East is forbidden, but it doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. There's a large homosexual community in the Arab world, and producer Soad Younis tackled this issue through a film she titled “Asrar A'iliyyah” (Family Secrets).

“Family Secrets” aims to answer the ultimate question: Is homosexuality an illness or a choice? It follows the story of a young gay man, who was sexually assaulted by his older brother as a child. The role was played by Egyptian actor Mohammad Mahran, who explores his sexuality while facing numerous domestic dilemmas in his personal life.

Two premiere screenings were held in Egypt, where critics were invited to give their thoughts on the film. The controversial film received mixed reviews; critics praised the production for its high standards, adding minor remarks for a few things they would like to see altered.

However, critics weren't in favor of the Egyptian Censorship Committees's demands to omit 13 scenes from the film, in order to authorize its release as “R-rated.”

One of the key scenes in the film – which the Committee wants to have removed - sees Mahran in bed (naked) with his male English tutor. In the scene, the two discuss whether they should carry on with their affair, when the tutor says that they will forever remain gay, as there's no treatment for homosexuality.

Will you be going to see “Family Secrets”?

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