“Global Gay: How Gay Culture Is Changing the World” by Frederic Martel— The Globalization of LGBT Rights

Martel, Frederic. “Global Gay: How Gay Culture Is Changing the World”, translated by Patsy Baudoin and with a foreword by Michael Bronski, MIT Press, 2018.

The Globalization of LGBT Rights

Amos Lassen

Frédéric Martel visits more than fifty countries and documents a revolution underway around the world: the globalization of LGBT rights. He takes us from Saudi Arabia to South Africa, from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv, from Singapore to the United States and we meet activists, culture warriors, and ordinary people who are part of the Global Gay movement. Martel interviews the proprietor of a “gay-friendly” café in Amman, Jordan; a Cuban-American television journalist in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; a South African jurist who worked with Nelson Mandela to include gay rights in the country’s constitution; an American lawyer who worked on the campaign for marriage equality; an Egyptian man who fled his country after escaping a raid on a gay club; and many others We learn that homosexuality is neither prohibited nor permitted in China and that Chinese gay life takes place on social media; that in Iran, because of the strict separation of the sexes, it seems almost easier to be gay than heterosexual; and that Raul Castro’s daughter, a gay rights icon in Cuba, expressed her anti-American sentiments by calling for Pride celebrations in May rather than June. Ten countries still have the death penalty for homosexuals. An activist shares that “Homophobia is what Arab governments give to Islamists to keep them calm.”

Martel shows that although the “gay American way of life” has created a global template for gay activism and culture, each country has distinctly local variations. Yet, it is interesting that the status of gay rights has become a measure of a country’s democracy and modernity.

“Global Gay” has been adapted into an award-winning television documentary. Hopefully we will have a chance to see it here.

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