DOXA 2018 review: Mr. Gay Syria

France/Germany/Turkey

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      Exhausted by the monolithic representation of gay Syrians in the media, Berlin-based journalist Mahmoud Hassino organizes a competition to boost awareness and visibility of the Syrian LGBT community in Turkey. Contestant and Syrian refugee, Husein Sabat, comes from a conservative Arab family, and is the married father to a beautiful baby girl. Despite being open to only his closest friends, Husein enters the competition at great risk to his life and personal safety.  

      The movie starts with Husein reflecting on the last few months of his life. He sums up these experiences with one sentence: “It’s like you climb to the top of a mountain,” he says. “And fall to the bottom of the other side.” From there, the film follows Husein and Mahmoud as they try to navigate a world that dictates their very existence as an abomination. However, filmmaker Ayse Toprak refuses to encapsulate their experiences as solely melancholic and despondent, but rather sprinkles fervent moments of bravery, resilience, and celebration throughout. By its end, the film demonstrates that survival is not just about living a monotonous life of invisibility, but rather having faith that tomorrow will be better than the day before.

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