“Mr. Gay Syria”
Trying to Reconcile Faith and Sexuality
“Mr. Gay Syria” is a special film in that it was made to support a direct campaign calling for a push to grant five Mr. Gay Syria contestants asylum. A petition from Change.org tells us that “Five Syrian refugees escaped the horrors of life as gay men in Syria only to find that their nightmares never ended. After years of living in hiding, fearing for their lives, and watching fellow LGBTQ+ people being mercilessly executed by ISIS, these men believed they had found freedom and safety in Istanbul. Feeling liberated and grateful for their newfound, yet conditional freedom of authentic self-expression, they decided to hold a Mr. Gay Syria contest and planned for the winner to participate in The Mr. Gay World competition. However, hate and homophobia still remain in Turkey”.
Mahmoud Hassino tells us that the film highlights the challenges experienced by LGBTQ+ people in the Middle East. Mr. Gay Syria is a regional competition to advance to Mr. Gay World. “Mr. Gay Syria” also a documentary, written and directed by Ayşe Toprak that highlights the five Mr. Gay Syria contestants and the challenges that they face including severe persecution and seemingly impossible barriers on those who are simply trying to be themselves “while living in antiquated and judgmental environments.” The hope is to help accelerate the asylum process for these men.
We see the conflicts inside a Muslim man who is trying to reconcile his sexuality with his faith, and how the traditions of his culture have pulled against him (and his family ties) since he was young.