Re: Transgender and henna, living transgender

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Posted by Catherine Cartwright Jones on August 21, 2002 at 16:12:48:

In reply to: Re: Transgender and henna, living transgender posted by Catherine Cartwright Jones on August 21, 2002 at 16:09:05:

In earlier times, boys who were slaves might be trained into a Xanith
role, especially if they had some natural inclination, and became
professional entertainers and homosexual sex workers. If they really
had talent, they could do quite well for themselves. In Cairo in the
early 1800?s, this was one of the career options for a talented Jewish
The west has sometimes been fascinated with, sometimes confused by,
sometimes repelled by the North African/Middle Eastern third gender,
and men?s relationships with each other. When western male perform
masculine gender, they don't get to cry, hug, kiss, comfort, or love
each other. Damn shame. It's such a nice thing to do.

There was a famous love relationship between an Englishman and a
Moroccan gorgeous young lad about 40 years ago, in a social circle
that bounced around the jetsetting Hollywood trendies and outer
perimeter Britwealth ?with that hypnotizing combination of
forbidden/sexy/glamorous/decadent thing going on. The Moroccan fellow
fell into a warm emotional relationship with another male easily. The
Englishman couldn?t get past cultural/sexual ?prissiness? and
alternately demonized/deified the relationship.

Another clash: a western journalist and her male contact were in a
gulf state. She wore ?legal? clothing, but when she went shopping or
walking, men constantly sexually harassed her. She expected this.
It?s part of the game. She DIDN?T expect her male contact to also be
sexually harassed, and he got as many unwanted sexual proposals as she
did. She was totally confused, and concluded most Middle Eastern men
are half mad. It didn?t occur to her that once her contact was seen to
be talking to her openly, and accompanying her, that he would be
presumed to be Xanith. No heterosexual male would have treated her as
an equal, engaged in conversation, that sort of thing. So, he was
interpreted to be Xanith, and on the stroll.

So. I mentioned Freddy Mercury a while back, because he is from a
Middle Eastern background. I think he performed Xanith third gender in
the Middle Eastern/North African style in many ways. He was a
flamboyant entertainer, and began as a darling little boy. . He took
friendship very seriously, and was a generous, loving, faithful friend
to many. He wasn?t ?prissy? about his sexuality, as was common with
western gay men of that time. In the Middle East/North Africa, sex
was sex, and had its place. It was a necessary, enjoyable, inevitable,
thing, and privacy and decorum kept things running smoothly. .
Western gay men of my generation had the demonizing/deifying thing
happening with their sexuality. Sex was a filthy secret or it was
something people wouldn?t shut up about. (Looks to me as though that?s
changed in the last 40 years, getting sexual variation on to the same
level as preference for one or another breakfast cereal. Not exotic,
not intimidating, just a preference, and one that changes from time to


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