Pride month may have ended (in some countries), but your celebration of LGBTQIA2S+ Lebanese artists shouldn’t. We curated this list to share with you some of our favorite Lebanese artists who are part of the queer community and hope you will appreciate their diverse styles as much as we do. Links to buy their art where available have been included, so please consider supporting their work.
Mloukhiyyė caught our eye with their distinctive pixel art style, a wide range of subjects, including Palestinian tatreez, Pokemon, Dungeons & Dragons characters, villainnesses in drag, and four-headed monsters with the heads of sectarian politicians. But that’s just the beginning. In addition to creating original and stunning art, they consistently use their platform for social and political good. Their posts, while a lot of fun, also demonstrate strong stances against sectarianism, sexual violence, white supremacy, and the occupation of the Palestinian territories. They have offered creative pixel portraits in the past for people who donated to the causes linked in their bio, including the Alliance of Migrant Domestic Workers, This is Lebanon, Egna Legna, and the Anti Racism Movement (ARM). The best way we’ve found to support Mloukkhiyė is to follow them, share their work, and donate to the just causes they’ve chosen to highlight.
Lara Nasser, based in NYC, creates vivid art through paint, sculpture, and video. Her work is full of juxtapositions and absurdity, often marked visually by strong color contrasts and thematically by the deconstruction of identity and learned behavior. You can read about her latest exhibit, Faith Faith Faith Faith Bang Bang, in her feature article in Artspeak NYC, which aptly describes her work as “emulsifying the minimal with the tacky, the kinky with the conservative, Nasser’s work reeks of an escapist lust for beauty in a place of conflict.” Her art, from 2014-2020, is all available for viewing on her website, and you can purchase apparel or prints from her SQRMMS print series on its separate website.
Based in Paris, Joseph Kai’s illustrations strike the perfect chord of visually stunning and politically powerful. He has been vocal about government corruption in Lebanon, particularly after the August 4 explosion, and his beautiful illustration commemorating the late Sarah Hegazy has been featured in the New York Times. His “highly gay comics” typically use vibrant colors or smooth pastels for dream-like, almost psychedelic scenes featuring comic-style characters. You can find his art for sale, including a collection of queer couple portraits, on his website.
Mohamad Abdouni is a Beirut-based photographer and the founder of Cold Cuts Magazine, a “photo journal exploring queer culture and the South West Asian and North African region.” Mohamad’s Instagram page is a striking display of original, innovative photojournalism as well as a celebration of diverse human identities. Mohamad asserts that queer history is abundant in our region, yet too often undocumented and unexplored. Cold Cuts is a response to this searing absence of known, celebrated, or even acknowledged queer Arab history. The magazine’s next release is a special edition called Treat Me Like Your Mother: Trans* Histories From Beirut’s Forgotten Past, which is Lebanon’s first archive of Lebanese trans womens’ stories. You can pre-order it for shipment in September 2021.
BeirOut’s Instagram page is a love letter to Lebanon. The anonymous artist’s work communicates a deep affection for their country and an uncontradictory desire to see it grow into a freer, fairer place. You’ll find scenes of queer couples and individuals in iconic settings typical of the Lebanese or Beiruti experience sandwiched between absurd contexts such as rainfall of knefe over Beirut and powerful portrayals of queer protesters boldly demonstrating against the corrupt sectarian regime in the streets. Their work is for sale on Society6 and Redbubble.