First off, homosexuality is not a topic that I think I’ve ever discussed on this blog and mostly because it is a topic that people seem to be so opinionated about (not to mention preoccupied with) to the extent that every conversation about it seems destined to descend in to a spiral of insults and hateful, nonconstructive comments – something that makes my job here a little harder to do. Second of all, I never really saw anything interesting or unique about the topic in the Jordanian context, especially an angle that hasn’t been tackled by either 7iber or the Arab Observer.
But that being said, I received an interesting link to an upcoming film that will be featuring a Jordanian lesbian in the leading role. And it got me thinking, is homosexuality such a big issue that in all the countries of the world, Jordan should have that “honor” of fulfilling such a role in a movie? Have I dramatically underestimated the issue, especially in how it pertains to western perceptions of Jordan? When people think “Jordan” does the word “homosexuality” pop up on the top 10 list of nouns and adjectives? Does it come after topics such as “torture” and “radicalism”? Heck, if anything, I expected a movie about honor crimes would be made before ever seeing anything about a Jordanian lesbian. Or maybe terrorism. Or perhaps the mukhabarat. Although that last one has already kind of been done.
But, c’est la vie.
I still get surprised when a Jordanian character shows up in a western film, but usually they blend in. A Jordanian Bedouin or a guy in the security forces (with a suit and menacing dark glasses). That’s the typecast of this country, and I have to admit, it kind of fits. A lesbian seems to break all the norms that even the average Jordanian wouldn’t be able to identify it as a suitable role. Ironically, this one is categorized as a comedy.
The following is a synopsis of the film (which pretty much gives away the plot; thanks Apple)
I Can’t Think Straight: Tala, a London-based Jordanian prepares for an elaborate wedding with her fiancÃ©, when she encounters Leyla, a young British Indian woman who is dating her best friend Ali. Spirited Christian Tala and shy Muslim Leyla could not be more different from each other but the attraction is immediate. Talaâ€™s feisty nature provokes Leyla out of her shell and soon both women reveal their feelings for each other. But Tala is not ready to accept the implications of the choice her heart has made and escapes back to Jordan where her chain-smoking high-brow mother finishes preparations for an ostentatious wedding. As family members descend and the wedding day approaches, simmering family tensions come to boiling point and the pressure mounts for Tala to be true to herself. Meanwhile heartbroken Leyla relishes her newly found sense of identity and self-respect and moves on with her new life â€“ much to the shock of her tradition-loving Indian parents. Single again, Tala flies back to London â€“ but it will take more than just a date set up by Ali and Leylaâ€™s sister Zara to win Leyla back. [trailer]
This is actually the second film with lead lesbian characters by novelist/filmmaker, Shamim Sarif.