This essay examines three documentary depictions of gay Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank. These documentaries often problematically assume a fundamental incompatibility between gay identities and Arab and Palestinian cultures, thereby, first, placing their subjects in the position of choosing between living in Palestine/Israel and living as openly gay; and second, producing a narrative of impossibility, in which Palestinian and gay identities can only exist in irresolvable conflict. However, Paul also argues that critical reactions to these films, as well as some broader scholarly debates over sexual identities and practices in the Arab world, also reinforce this narrative of impossibility in a way that makes little room for the diverse lived experiences of gay Palestinians. In order to move beyond this narrative, Paul rereads these documentaries with an emphasis on the quotidian experiences of the films’ gay Palestinian subjects. Through attention to queerness as a spatial experience, he analyzes the ways in which these characters inhabit urban spaces in Israel and Palestine in ways that contest and disorient dominant narratives about these spaces. Paul concludes that a focus on such experiential moments reveals queer lives that are exuberant and subversive, and he shows the necessity of moving beyond narratives of impossibility in studies of sexuality in the Middle East.

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