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“At Night, The Gays Come Out Like Werewolves” – with Intesar Toufic

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You know how I always get overexcited when I learn a new word or phrase on this show? 

Well, this week I was lucky enough to learn some gay Arabic terms when I sat down to talk to Intesar Toufic about growing up gay in Lebanon. 

Intesar is an author (check out some of his writing here), stand-up comedian, and patrona of a multinational phone-sex ring. He first started going to Acid, a club that was found in the capital Beirut, when he was in university and had just started to meet other people like him.

We talk all about community and what it means to belong at the same time as not belonging, how the club operated in a country where it’s illegal to be gay, and – what could possibly be my new favourite saying – the malice of gays.

Intesar Toufic  00:00

At night, the gays come out like werewolves, you know, suddenly, the hair would be longer and taller. Suddenly the jeans would become tighter. Suddenly the clothes would become flashy, like slowly people transform at night. Hey, hello,

K Anderson  00:18

I am K Anderson and you are listening to lost spaces, the podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Every episode I talk to a different person about a venue from their past, the memories that they created there, and the people that they used to know. You know how I get really excited when I learn new terms and phrases that I’ve never heard before on this show? Well, this week, I was lucky enough to learn a handful of Arabic terms that are used by the homosexual community in Lebanon. And the person who taught me these words is Intesar Toufic. Intesar is an author stand up comedian and patron of a multinational phone sex ring, he first started going to Acid, a club that was found in the capital Beirut when he was at university and had just started to meet other people like him and figure out and explore his sexuality. We talk all about community and what it means to fit in at the same time as not fitting in at all, how a gay club could even operate in a city where it’s still illegal to be gay. And to feed throws around the phrase that could well possibly be my new favourite phrase of all time, which is the malice of gays.

K Anderson  02:13

Just building on your suggestion from before? Can you teach me a few Arabic gay terms?

Intesar Toufic  02:22

Yes. First important thing, it’s how to refer to your peers and homosexuality. You call them the French word for auntie, which is thought, Ah, it’s a dot q. But if it’s a plural, you pluralise it the Arabic way and you go down debt. If I say the gays of Britain, I’d say potato Britannia. I say the gays of America. I’d say don’t take America. And so my friends always say be warned. You’re dealing with debt. Like dealing with like slithery, horny people. Oh, be careful. I know, the way is of these thought that like, that’s how they tell me if I’m gonna make up some kind of new business or proposal or whatever. It’s just like, the clips. That means the malice of French Auntie’s

K Anderson  03:23

that, say gay men have a bitchy reputation everywhere?

Intesar Toufic  03:27

No. Well, unfortunately, it seems so because you don’t have a good state. At least resources are limited. So you have to pounce and claw and you know stuff, but it’s the it’s the Middle East. We’re not gonna calm down.

K Anderson  03:40

Okay, so tone and tone that. Yeah. What else? What other words am I learning today?

Intesar Toufic  03:47

Don’t Don’t do that. Oh, okay, here’s one. If you want to lie to someone who’s not in your in group and you want to make it obvious to your in group that you are lying. You add a certain word. It changes every season. This season, we’re using Violette. So for example, if I’ve had the you over for tea, or something, and my friends are over, and we think that your shirt is hideous, I’d say oh, that shirt is so nice. Violette isn’t it

K Anderson  04:29

the other person would pick up that there’s a stray word in your sentence and be like,

Intesar Toufic  04:34

but the thing is, it’s a harmless stray word. It’s not an insulting stray word. It’s just harmless. And remember, usually the person that we’re talking about is not gay. So they’re not witty enough to like understand what’s going on. They’re probably just talking to some like cattle breeder or you know what I mean?

K Anderson  04:49

Okay, so these guys and their use of the language.

Intesar Toufic  04:53

Oh, there’s good. Their fashion

K Anderson  04:58

Okay, so I’ve got a star Putting Violette into my Yeah, well, when is it going to expire though?

Intesar Toufic  05:05

It expires seasonally when this trade started picking up on it and then we change it to like before that it was VIX, VIX. Oh, your hair. So nice VIX. Very nice isn’t. It can tell you a very funny story about that too. But whatever people

K Anderson  05:22

tell me about it. But before you do tell me like, how do you find out that the words been updated?

Intesar Toufic  05:28

The coolest one in the group dictates like, When was she just decides this is the word that we’re gonna use. And I happen to know one of the like, alphabets, shall we say, alpha talk that her name is it is. She’s a very, very good friend of mine, the funniest person I know who makes me laugh to tears and wake up with cramps the next day. She’s hilarious. So I call her up to like, tell me stories and stuff from back home. And she always changes the way I’m like, wasn’t it wasn’t that Vic’s? Like, was like, no, no, no, no. Now we save you’re like, Okay, sure. You use like way, way more often than I do. So yes, sure. Yeah. So it’s really flooded.

K Anderson  06:13

Oh, I find this a bit stressful the thought of this. I would keep slipping into the old term and be totally passe. Within no time.

Intesar Toufic  06:22

Possibly, yes. You don’t want to be caught with the old key. Otherwise, you would, you’d be picked up on Yeah, but if you’re in the mix, you’ll pick up the winds of change. If you don’t, that you’ll get eaten alive, as you should.

K Anderson  06:38

Oh, gosh. Okay. So I will I will try and slip that into the conversation and see whether you notice. So I’ve made I’ve made a note of

Intesar Toufic  06:45

Yes. You know, if you’ll let us know that there’s a colour in French if x is a pill you take if your throat is bad, so you can use them in different ways. Like, Oh, you’re such a good friend of mine. Do you have any weeks by the way? Just know. Okay. What? I’m sick. I swear I’m sick. Yeah,

K Anderson  07:06

that would Oh, yeah. That would make me so paranoid. If anyone said anything to me. I’d be like, hang on. Does this mean? Oh, are you being shady?

Intesar Toufic  07:13

Oh, it’s not ISIS using the words that you’ll be fine.

K Anderson  07:18

Yes. But that isn’t on tats. They are so harsh.

Intesar Toufic  07:22

Not all of them. Not all of them. Yes, some of them can’t be but really not all of them.

K Anderson  07:27

I just can’t deal with being socially excluded from them. If you come

Intesar Toufic  07:31

to Lebanon, the content will be very nice to you. We’re very nice to foreigners. It’s each other who we can’t stand. Oh, that’s interesting. Well, that’s the Middle East for you. But yeah.

K Anderson  07:43

Okay, so then speaking of Lebanon, yes. What was it like growing up there as a little gay boy,

Intesar Toufic  07:53

little gay boy grew up in Lebanon, I grew up between the capital, which is Beirut, and a town which I will not name because it’s If people hear this, although that’s me. My winters were in the capital because my school was there. And my summers are in my hometown. And it’s just two different worlds where the capital is quite metropolitan. It’s a bit dusty. It’s a bit on polished. It’s very real. It’s not trying to be anything that what it is. And you have bougie areas that are very, very nice and glossy and have like sandstone buildings, and other areas where you have like Arabic graffiti, and you have portraits of artists, and you have like mosques and dilapidated buildings. And you’ll always have like mosques, sounding the prayer five times a day, which I think is a bit much and inconsiderate. That should be a lower volume. You know, I don’t care who I offend here, chances are, they’ve offended me somehow. And the village is very quiet. Everyone’s and everyone else’s business is very conservative. The weather is amazing, the food’s wonderful, it’s cheap. It’s just people are in your business. You’re like, oh, who came to your house the other day? That’s fuck off. Like they just don’t fuck off by the city. Nobody cares. Nobody cares. That’s why the city you know, gay places just bloom. Because it’s so funny before I left Lebanon to come, you know, to where I am now. At night, I’d see like the gays come out like werewolves, you know, suddenly, the hair would be longer and taller. Suddenly the jeans would become tighter. Suddenly the clothes would become flashy, like slowly people transform at night. And before we used to have a struggle like before, if my friend Lisa was too like flamboyant, and restaurants, the waiters would like I know Sass her kind of and she would not have it. She would call the manager she’d be like, this is making fun of me and other pay customer. So please deal with your employee. And the manager would do it because he said Okay, so that he speaks, you know, English or French and he’s been abroad and he’s a he’ll tell them don’t make fun of the customers. This is like business one on

K Anderson  10:07

one. And so just so I’m clear, are you saying she, but you’ve made it he or

Intesar Toufic  10:14

he Okay, yes. Okay, cool. No, no, she’s not transgender. It’s a term of endearment. Yeah. Okay. I will use that often, by the way. Okay,

K Anderson  10:20

so that kind of gives me a good idea of what Lebanon is like, but what was Lebanon like for you? For me? And what period? Like Like when that seeds sprouted with it? This sounds a bit dirty. When you when you realised, oh, I might not be heterosexual. What was your response to that given the way you were socialised?

Intesar Toufic  10:40

It didn’t seem threatening. At the time. It didn’t seem like it could put me in any kind of danger or inconvenience. I didn’t I didn’t have any gay role models in Lebanon, my gay role models were all like

K Anderson  10:54

Western and you knew what gay people were like. Sorry, that sounds really

Intesar Toufic  10:58

I found out what they were through YouTube. And I was like, Oh, this is why I like Martin from you know, the 11th grade or this is why I don’t like girls. And this is why I don’t masturbate what my friends are masturbating to porn CD that a friend of mine got. Yeah. Because,

K Anderson  11:17

yeah, like sat together and weren’t

Intesar Toufic  11:19

Yeah, kind of. I mean, it was three of us. It’s just the three of us. Each one had like a separate corner. And I was like, I just like watching. I was like, okay, the screen was like, 90% naked woman. And it was like, dig in, like, 5% of every now and then there was a flash of deck. Yeah. And I don’t even like Dick. Like, to this day. I don’t get people’s obsession with Dick. Sorry. I know. Like, it’s a big thing. But I’ve just thought a big person. Like everything else about the body. But not dick. And I just don’t

K Anderson  11:47

do dick. But anyway, will you like to touch it? Or you just won’t touch

Intesar Toufic  11:51

on the other person? Yeah, usually they don’t really want me to touch it. And if they asked me to touch it, I charged them.

K Anderson  11:59

Okay, well, good. Good to know. Should we ever be in a situation where I want you to touch my penis. So you were watching on people? You weren’t that turned on by the women in the poll, and you were like, Okay, I like this doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Did it ever seem to feel like a big deal?

Intesar Toufic  12:15

Oh, certainly. So because I don’t know what happened for us. But it’s a long story. Well, I basically told my mom, I told her, Hey, this guy. There’s a guy named Martin, the 11th grade because Martin was like blonde and very nice and popular. And I was like, I think I love him. She was like, oh, as a brother. I’m like, No, I’m attracted to him. She’s like, what? And she slapped me. And I thought that was funny. My mom’s physical Lee, not I won’t say abusive, but when she like hit me, I thought she thought it was funny. Like it was just like slapstick, you know. So I just like, didn’t think about it. And then I made the very poor choice of coming out to my two best friends at the time, who I was working with. And one of them was from the city. And another one was from the village, we were all like relatives. So we would spend our summers together. They were like my two best friends in the summer. And I cannot do them. And oddly enough, the one from the city took it way, way worse than the one who’s from the village. So he outed me to his mom. And his mom is my dad’s cousin. So she outed me to like, everyone. And it was terrible. And my dad was working at the time abroad, he called me up. He’s like, What is this gay bullshit I am hearing about, like, Oh, it’s just a joke. And my mom was like, You do not understand the severity of the situation. You do not understand how dangerous it is to tell people that you’re this way. You just don’t understand it. And I was still not getting what was so wrong. What was the problem? Because I wasn’t hurting anyone. And okay, I don’t see them all the time. But what am I doing? That’s so bad. She was like, tell everyone that you were like, just tell them you were lying. Tell them you were lying. And it was a phase or you were just joking or whatever. And I didn’t go with that, because I thought it was stupid. And so I was like, half assing it when I was like, Oh, I was lying. Oh guys, I’m not really this way. The way that used to come out to them, by the way was radio Gaga. Because we were into music. We were into music and so we listen to these different songs. And we’d like Queen at one point we liked the fact that they came up with a We Will Rock You and I read the Freddie Mercury was gay or bisexual I was very proud of that. And I was like hey see guys like he’s he’s bisexual but he’s great like he had he sang the song. We Will Rock You and they had the song called Radio Gaga and I had the Queen album and we listened to her we all enjoy that. I told them okay guys, well, I think I might be radio Gaga and So when I use yes and they just it was it was downhill from there really got to a point where the stupidest thing I did was I had a YouTube channel like the old YouTube because I had I had to I had some really stupid Small YouTube Channel and I stupidly showed it to my cousins. And I went in one of my videos I was dancing to milkshake

Intesar Toufic  15:25

and I thought it was just completely harmless. You know, it made my friends laugh. I wasn’t like grinding or whatever. I was like dancing to book shake. You know what I mean? But my parents were divorcing at the time. My father is extremely abusive. He wasn’t raised right. He was he’s a spoiled fucking brat. My father is like a Donald Trump, like the family name is very important and well regarded, but he has no achievements to speak of he just like, you know, parasites off of his father’s achievements. And so when they were divorcing, my mom had the upper hand because she was a career woman. She had a good reputation, etc. Then this motherfucker who is my cousin’s dad whose name is at a yard who if I if you’re hearing this, I hope you get a big heart attack you piece of shit. He was they were like they went to my grandpa’s house because my mom was there during the divorce settlement. And they were like negotiating the estate. And my mom was set to receive half the estate because she was married to my dad for 17 years. Then the yard, takes off his glasses, and he just gives us like, pig disgusted pig look, and he goes, your son dances to milkshake on YouTube. You’re not a good mother. And my sister is six years younger than than I am. And according to Lebanese law, if the child turns out to be atheist or homosexual, that main caregiver is deemed inappropriate and custody goes to the other caregiver. So my mom was going to lose custody of my baby sister, or give up half of her estate of the divorce settlement. So we didn’t want my sister didn’t stay with my dad because she would have become socialised to a stupid, conservative Idiot, idiot for breeding. Basically, I didn’t want her to become that. And my mom also didn’t want her to become that. So my mom had to give up a sizable estate to retain custody of my sister. And so I just live with this regret and this guilt that I cost my mom so much money, and she has to live with her grandpa with my grandfather now, who is also a problematic, you know, conservative old idiot. So I’m doing my best to make it and here I am.

K Anderson  17:41

That’s quite a lot to bear the brunt of how old were you? Yeah,

Intesar Toufic  17:47

yeah. I was like 1617. And my mom. And I butts on the sun. There’s no problems with me. Like I was a good student. I was a drummer like I was, I wasn’t achiever. And I was living with my grandparents at the time. My grandma was very supportive. She was very nice. She was always very nice. May she rest in peace. My grandpa’s very socially aware. And he’s very honoured, sensitive, and he always wants like, he will always choose the more honourable option, no matter what honour first, always, because where I’m from, it’s not just the money you have, you have to have otter because otter is a kind of currency where the state lacks in satisfying certain services. If people call the police on you, and your honourable, the police will just let it go. Because the society will be upset if you’re persecuted. But if but if you don’t have any honour, the police will, will jail you even if you’ve done nothing remotely wrong, because people don’t like you anyway. So otter kind of complements money. So we have to have both to be the most powerful. But if you don’t have money, and you have honour, you can still live and survive. If you have money and no honour you need like, you need to like bribe a lot of people. Anyway, my grandpa wanted both. So I was living with them at the time. And he tells my mom the way she just he just tells her point, like, Fuck the way you raised him. Everyone’s thinking that it’s her fault that she had nothing to do with this, you’d never told me to, you know, listen to the birds. Like you don’t become gay. You know what I mean? You just are aware of it. And of course, she did not want me to be this way. She took me to several psychologists and they all told her it’s not an illness. Get over. It’s just a fucking disease. Yes, the psychologists were on my side, but they were only on my side for that one hour. I was there in the office with them having the session with my mom. After that ended, I was back to being problematic and she would scream at the driving wheel being like, you cannot be different in this way. No, no, like she just go paranoid. You know, it was an overreaction, really, but she was afraid I I basically cost her a lot of money, I construct peace of mind. She wanted to divorce my debt to get away from like the ways of abusive, honour sensitive men. And now she’s down to my grandfather penniless because of me, so So I don’t think I deserved all that I got from her. But I understand why she erupted in the way she did. And but it was fine, because afterward. Well, I tried to call myself once, but it didn’t work out. And afterwards, I moved to university and in university, I thrive.

K Anderson  20:34

I’m about to ask you to speak on behalf of your mom. So I appreciate that you may not be able to answer this question. But do you think it was because she herself had a problem with you being gay, or she was just worried about the repercussions?

Intesar Toufic  20:47

Both, okay, my mom’s like the second youngest child in our family, but she’s very conservative as well. She is conservative, but she has done her naughty things. Like she’s a very brave woman. But she’s also quite conservative. Like my, at the time, my aunt, I have two aunts on my mom’s side, who were both living in North America, one in the US and one in Canada. And both are telling her it’s okay, it’s normal. Don’t give him a hard time. Just get through it. Just you know, hug him be fine. And she was always like saying, no, no, I can’t believe you’re saying this. No, it’s wrong to be this way. And blah, blah, blah. She wasn’t like, I know, she wasn’t like Sarah Palin about it. She wasn’t like everyday telling me this is wrong. This is wrong. I have a strong character. So whenever she bitched at me about it, I’d be like, Yeah, whatever. I just tell her, you know, I didn’t care. But it was like, she was very loving. And she couldn’t really, you know, bring up the frustration to the point of like, menacing me about it. Especially because we were living with my grandparents still. And my grandma was very, very nice and very loving. And she told my mom, it’ll be okay, blah, blah, blah. And I eventually moved out of, I had to leave. Like, I remember I was visiting my friends once, once in the city. And mom was like, could you find a place to stay there tonight? And I was like, why? And she goes, your Grandpa doesn’t want you to come back. Wow. Oh, sure. So I’d stay in a crummy hotel. And I stayed there for a good summer. But But during this time, I learned a lot of things from my girlfriend’s from my own debt. And before this happened, actually, I started university. And yeah, like I started university and I was living in the dormitories.

K Anderson  22:36

What? Yes, the timescale here, you went to university. Such a blur? Oh, okay. Well, the one thing I would just want to be clear on is where you’d like kicked out of your grandpa’s home whilst you were at university or before you went to university? Yes.

Intesar Toufic  22:50

Okay. At university, but not in the dormitory. Okay. So I was I stayed in a hotel for like a semester.

K Anderson  22:59

I’m sorry, you were talking about your contacts. So how did you how did you find other gay people?

Intesar Toufic  23:04

Okay, so the very first day of university that I was there, just bringing my classes, this student like, who was also like a student assistant, kind of a help here just for my classes. And we kind of knew that the other person was gay. I don’t know what it was, but I knew kind of, and he took me to my first gay rights organisation called Helen and Lebanon. And there is running but everyone else Well, there was where I met a very important person named Alexander. Alexander, his real name is Syed, by but his like pop star because we all have pop star games. I mean, pop star girl names. Mine is, for example, Raphaela Stein’s name was Alexandra. So I always call them Alex. And, and when I met Alexandra, it was a life changing moment. It saved my life. This person was so funny, and so lively, and so intriguing. And he actually, he was kicked out of his house. And I let him stay in my dormitory and my dorm room illegally for a

K Anderson  24:12

whole semester. So you’re just sneaking around the whole time?

Intesar Toufic  24:15

And no, I had a dorm and I was paying for my dorm. This was before I got kicked out. And at the time, it was, I think, my second year there. I had a roommate, but he left and no one would be my roommate because they all knew I was gay. And they thought that big roommates with me would turn them gay because my first roommate started kissing boys and bars and people like Oh tofi flip them. I’m not I’m not rooming with toffee. So I had an extra bed to myself for like a year. So every time someone would get kicked out of their house, I would have them in my dorm room. And at one point I had seven people

K Anderson  24:51

and so you said meeting Alex was life changing? Why was it life

Intesar Toufic  24:55

life changing? Alex first of all, you also said that for a gateway needs your English or French is like a like oxygen. Arabic is the language of tradition, of obligation of war of politics of things that are unpleasant. So I didn’t like Arabic growing up, I remember that I would I finished my homework, I would just burn it. I just did not like Arabic at all. The grammar is hard. You know, it’s a beautiful language but learning it is difficult. At least on the other hand, you had you know, pop music and English rock music and English video games in English. The Cartoon Network wasn’t English. Next was love Powerpuff Girls, etc. So it was it was much more engaging to young minds and much more liberating. And so I just grew up being like, I fucking hate Arabic. I was so stupid I so instead of being Arab blow, I had like, internalised Orientalism, then Alexandria shows up into my life. She is hilarious in Arabic. She is witty in Arabic, she is everything in Arabic. I’m like, Wow, there’s so much poetry in Arabic. And it can be lewd and crude and hilarious. And oh, my goodness, I didn’t know Arabic can do so much. Like she took this stiff thing and turned it into a tickle feather. And I just like was hooked on her. And through her I went to acid. And I met the other trumpet who were not educated in English. And they were also with the an Arabic. And this made me minor in translation at university and ended up working at the United Nations as a translator. Yes. Yeah, I can trace that during the day that I worked with United Nations. So then

K Anderson  26:37

okay, so you met Alex? Alex JQ to acid which is what we’re here to talk about. Yes, sir. Thank you for bringing us on to subject was acid your first gay but like law club club? Yeah,

Intesar Toufic  26:49

yes. Yes, it was.

K Anderson  26:50

So do you remember what that first time there was? Ah,

Intesar Toufic  26:56

yes. Well, can I say this like stream of consciousness second person?

K Anderson  27:00

Well, I know. Go ahead.

Intesar Toufic  27:02

Okay. You are in the taxi. You were in the taxi. It’s at night. Next to you is Alexandra Alexandra is looking up from his phone to the road every few minutes. The taxi driver is tired, but the ride is smooth. The taxi driver makes a sharp right turn down a hill from the headlights you see the upturned white shirt of who will become your best friend it is. underneath his upturned white shirt is an olive waist that is swinging to a parked car before it bends and asks him bunju Watch Can I help you with this evening? Eventually it is so well below the guy for 20 bucks facing it is is her twin heifer who is way way more gorgeous and much cheaper. heifers giving someone a blow job for the third time this evening for $5 Because according to Haifa, quote, blow job is better than no job. The car stops and Xander leaves the car before telling the guy thank you or before even paying him. It’s kind of expected that you are going to foot the bill yet again. Whenever you’re around Alexandra you pay for whatever’s going on. And you know that she’s never going to return the money. But it’s okay because it’s cheap. Whatever. You pay the guy he doesn’t even look at you. He leaves you emerge. It’s at night. There are figures they are colourful, some are tall, some are short, they’re all wearing tight clothes. You see women with long voluminous hair and really white makeup and they look captivating you see like bodybuilders really good looking their charts are tight around their muscles. You see skinny thin boys just like you could people are looking at you but not that closely because you’re not that good looking yet you will be one day but for now you’re not that’s a good thing. Alexandra just walks around doesn’t really call you you have to follow Alexandra you are following Alexandra and she goes and says hi to Esther. And Alexandra goes this is tough. Yes she’s some lentil picking bitch I found you just laugh at this these expressions. They’re beautiful expressions. So it isn’t like hydrophila Nice to meet you like everything’s fine. And the heifers finished just from her blow job so like the three musketeers are back half and it’s like Sondra like one click and then they’re like oh guess what the call is here the calls your own call the who are the calls here I’m like Oh, who’s Nicole. We turn and we find this towering transsexual is the call centre Up, Nicole sob is evil. And I wish you knew this before but she is evil, but she is fucking. She’s actually the fucking lioness because I was tall. She is broad. She is oddly sexy, but not in the feminine way that she wants to be sexy in. She is wearing these shimmering leggings and really short white shorts and very, very tiny heels. And a sleeveless blue top. So she looks like a bodybuilder in Drac you meet them and you meet Nicole and Nicole looks at you like your easy prey. Like, oh, I could chop your leg off right now you couldn’t do anything about like, you know, feminine malice oozes from the cold sob. But you like it. It’s interesting that each of them starts like introducing themselves as if we’re on like a pop talk radio show. And Alexandra goes, I’m Alexandra blah, blah, blah, something and each one has given themselves a nickname. And the call goes, Oh yum. The Empress and Haifa goes on the cutie pie. And Ellison says I said Eric first okay. And that had him go to the daddy. which in English means I am the queen. Go check your history books. Which is a beautiful phrase I use like of course, keep laughing. And now you can interject.

K Anderson  31:40

Well, thank you. So was is it fair to say overwhelming in a good way?

Intesar Toufic  31:48

It wasn’t that overwhelming. It was like a bunch of new stuff. Yes. Simultaneous Yes. But I wasn’t like lost or confused. It was very like paced. You know what I mean? There wasn’t everything all at once. And Alexandre was wearing a nylon wig. Alexandre is skinny. And tad you find out later that this is because Xander sleeps on rooftops because she got kicked out of her house, and she wears a wig because her parents shaved her head. Before she she didn’t get her cameras. She ran away from home. The bitches rich, but she chose her gay liberty over like wealth and come from what you find very courageous. She’s a no nonsense, bitch. She will get her way or like, you know, no way at all. Anyway, yeah.

K Anderson  32:32

Are we still talking about you in the third person? Should I know you can. You can end that if you like anyway. So then in the lead up to going to acid. Were you like cocksure, or like were you like, yeah, of course, this is what we’re gonna go into? Or were you worried?

Intesar Toufic  32:50

I didn’t actually know we were going into gameplay. Yeah. Okay. And it’s not as like, Oh, I’m going to ask that you want to come to acid? I’m like, What’s acid? She’s like, Oh, come, you’ll find out? Oh, sure.

K Anderson  33:00

So realising then that it was a gay space, and that there were people potentially are making an assumption here being visibly out in that space. Yeah. What was that? Like?

Intesar Toufic  33:11

It was interesting, because I heard about gay bars from like, Jeffree Star. And these kinds of people back when they were doing YouTube. I was like, Oh, I’m at the gay bar, look at me. And everyone’s supposed to be gay, or something like I know what the call is. And it was interesting to see. But I didn’t feel comfortable. I didn’t feel like I belong there. i It’s pretentious to say but I felt like I was too educated for what it was there. Not that I was better. But just like, we can discuss Karl Marx, or Emile Durkheim, or Max Weber’s and functionalism. And these things with people here. They’re more like, funny, lower classes, which is beautiful. But I felt like, if I don’t fit in here, I don’t really mind. But I don’t fit in here. And I don’t think I want to fit in here. I’m not saying that I was better than anyone. I was just saying that it wasn’t really my crowd. I felt that it wasn’t really my crowd. But I wanted to be nice to everyone. And they wanted to have a nice time. And I wanted to, you know, enjoy myself. And I wanted I think I wanted to find a man. You know what I mean? Whatever that meant back then. Yeah. And of course, my eyes were on the bodybuilders. But their eyes were not on me. Of course. So you get rejected, you go to the gym, you workout, you don’t get results, because you’re not getting enough, you’re not getting enough because your body’s too young to take in that much food. So you’re just frustrated and then you dominate an Italian at 22 and realise, oh shit, I’m a great dominant. I’m going to do this for the next 10 years. And here we are.

K Anderson  34:49

Well, I mean, everyone’s on their path and this is yours, obviously. That then so in terms of acid what, what was your relationship with that venue? Over the coming months or years

Intesar Toufic  35:03

I felt unappreciated I felt because they weren’t welcoming. Acid wasn’t a welcoming place like the body guards there. They just stood and frowned. They weren’t like Oh, welcome. Oh, come in. They just saw that and found they just stood like

K Anderson  35:18

isn’t our bodyguards to everywhere?

Intesar Toufic  35:21

Yes, but even the bouncers like nobody smiled, nobody of the staff smiled and acid it was like it was like for them it was a burden to serve us. And we couldn’t complain about it because it was the only big gay venue that was accessible and cheap to us. So we just like took it when you when you live in a developing country, you kind of are accustomed to micro I don’t wanna say aggressions because that’s stupid. Micro offences, I want to say micro offences, micro offences or micro disrespects, like, for example, someone cuts in front of you in line, Oh, whatever. I mean, whatever, you know, a corrupt guy gets away with it. Whatever, whatever. Bodyguard doesn’t smile at you or whatever, you know, it just you just like are used to the disrespect. Yeah, kind of

K Anderson  36:08

said that. That’s this stuff. And the bodyguard, what was it like the other people that were there. So

Intesar Toufic  36:15

like, I was very young, very naive, I was very nice, you know, very well meaning. Up until that point, I thought villains were fictional characters on TV, I didn’t think that people would actually be malicious or be criminal or be harmful. So this one time it is wanted to go with a client somewhere on his motorbike, possibly to like, blow him for some money. And she told me to keep her phone with her. And I did. And then this guy shows up. He’s like, Oh, I saw your friend take off with my friend. She wants her phone, by the way. And when I go see them now? I’m like, Oh, really? Oh, okay. Here’s our phone. And Lisa sees me doing this little fella. What are you doing? She just comes from the distance you know, like swinging. Swinging. Tough. Jana. What are you doing with my phone? I’m like, Oh, he said that. He’s he’s your friend’s friend. No. Tough. Yeah, she’s just loves me. She just thinks

K Anderson  37:17

you just slapped

Intesar Toufic  37:20

her slapped her funny. I mean, I just love I just thought like, oh, how could you know it’s a gay slap. It’s not gonna hurt you. And she just like yells at the guy. How dare you want my phone? You felt you garbage out of here? Like we were very young, but I was I admired their courage are so gutsy. I remember what oh my god. I remember once this guy was driving by he was very, very good looking. And because it’s so good looking. We fucking hate his girlfriend. And so Alexandre said something vile to her. She said, Oh my god, I shake. It rides. We have a lot of those in Arabic, which means go get fuck done by your dinner. She basically means you’re a whore. Oh, so

K Anderson  38:03

buy your dinner with the money that you’ve made from getting fact. Yes. Okay. All right. I’m waiting

Intesar Toufic  38:08

on Arabic. It’s like Go ahead. Take a shake. So fucking Ryan’s we have a lot of those. We fucking love those. I love we like that she poetry in Arabic. If it’s not if it doesn’t rhyme, it’s weak. doesn’t rhyme. It’s not good.

K Anderson  38:23

It’s not offensive enough. If it doesn’t, right? Yeah. Oh, my God. Anyway, said the vehicle stopped.

Intesar Toufic  38:29

Yes, the vehicle stops. The guy comes out of it. I freeze. And Aleksandra wants to record or at least the other quarter. The guy comes to me. I like it wasn’t me. And he sees in my eyes that I’m an innocent guy who would never do this. Like I’m fucking harmless. He goes to and she says, I don’t know what you’re talking about. And she goes, I was just joking. He just slaps Oh my God. It is. Alexandra is one of the gutsiest fucking people I know. Like she would be in the middle of the street in like this, like pathetic. women’s clothes. You know what I mean? Like, a wig that looks like a wig publicly. It’s not trying to be anything other than a wig. And like fucking tissue paper for boobs because she was escorting that Lady Boy. And she’s like, stand there. And this boy would come up to me like hey, you’re not aware real woman. You’re a man in a dress. Dress and I thought it’d be like yah, yah, yah. Does you have to be somewhere little boy, go on down. So she she left such an imprint on me and she slept over my dormitory for all semester, so I really got to know her better. And her grades were higher than mine in high school. She passed the official exams of the country at the baccalaureate exams. She got a higher score than me in the baccalaureate exams, but here I am at the top university in the country and she As a runaway, living with me as an escort. So really choices and luck really started being more apparent apparent to me. Yes.

K Anderson  40:13

I want to understand a bit more about like, what the legality, what how is it treated in terms of gay bars in Lebanon? Like, is it just a known underground thing? Or

Intesar Toufic  40:27

does it have a question? There was many rumours. I don’t know enough about the legal system to know why acid was shut down eventually. What I do know is that, for the longest time, they had an understanding with the state, as in someone who was involved with acid, also had involvements in a political party, and they kind of like protected acid from being shut down. Because at the time, we had article 534, and the Lebanese penal code which criminalises quote, unquote, unnatural sex acts. And I have to say this, we’re not backwards. This is a French law that the French made us adopt. And there’s many similar cases of this across Africa and Asia because of British and French, fucking Penal Code imprints in that fashion. So we’re not backwards. The Ottoman Empire was the first entity to decriminalise homosexuality, so we it was it was fine, before the French stamped it as illegal and stayed that way. At the time, I guess that’s why I don’t know why he got shut down. I think it was legal. Oh, yes. You could not make out on the dance floor. Because they said that there might be detectives, they’re checking if anything gay is being allowed to happen. So you could not make out on the dance floor. At that.

K Anderson  41:54

Could you like Go and sit somewhere in Macau? Or is it just you

Intesar Toufic  41:57

know, you if you want to make out you have to leave the premises, you have to leave the premises where they have liability for for whatever happens inside. You could grind with a with someone if you’re dressed as a woman convincingly Oh, interesting. So that the magic is that? Oh, she she looked like a woman. I thought there was a straight couple. Yeah, because many like Saudis and Emiratis and Kuwait is flocked to Lebanon for sex tourism, with men and transsexuals and women. And so a lot of them came to acid and when they came to acid, you and you. Oh, my goodness. Did you know?

K Anderson  42:37

But okay, so then you said you didn’t know like how it managed to stay open? Yeah, I didn’t know. It was open. Let’s talk about it closing like, Where were you living when you found out that it closed? Were you still

Intesar Toufic  42:52

probably in the DS? I was probably in the dorms. It closed very early on. Like, I think it was in 2012 or 20. Yes. Yeah. And I remember like, people were very upset about this. And it was on the news. Oh, wow. Yes. That it closed down. I’m always like, Have you ever been there? I was like, No, of course not. You know, I said, What do you mean? Because, yes, like what’s asked, but we were very shocked that it closed that upset that it closed even though it was seedy and not particularly pleasant. It was still like a gay spot. It was still like our territory at Red to be closed the way it did was, we don’t know why. There’s many rumours going around. One of them was that politicians daughter bought an apartment in the facility. And she did not like what was going on there. And she had it closed. That’s one of the I don’t know if that’s true.

K Anderson  43:44

So do you remember what your response was when you found out about acid closing?

Intesar Toufic  43:49

I was sad. I wasn’t devastated. But I was like sentimentally I was upset because I had some good times. They’re like, I hooked up with an American there. One said We We dated for a while and I’ve seen lots of funny things happen. They’re like, because I was with very funny company. Alexandra. It is Nicole. I was so young. Everyone was so interesting. But it wasn’t like the end of my outtake. Certainly not and I wasn’t, you know.

K Anderson  44:19

So then looking back, so it’s shot in 2012. So it’s like 10 years ago, and there’s now been 10 years between you and acid. If you were to just summarise your experience of going to that club, are you able to tell me what acid taught you about yourself?

Intesar Toufic  44:41

That I’m not a typical Lebanese homosexual, I guess like I just did not fit in. I did not to fit in but I was very drawn to cop

K Anderson  44:51

but that doesn’t mean that you’re not that doesn’t mean you’re not a typical Lebanese homosexual.

Intesar Toufic  44:56

Most of them were and most of them are not like me. And to this They most of them are not like me. To this day, I don’t feel part of it to this day,

K Anderson  45:06

to the entire wider culture to the

Intesar Toufic  45:09

entire wider. Yeah, the entire wider like I love the place. I love the place dearly I care for I cry for it. But I don’t. There’s a pattern that they have that I don’t really follow. Naturally. I guess I’m part of the tapestry of it, if you will, but a very different aspect of the tapestry. Very different zone of the top streams.

K Anderson  45:34

Do you think that it matters for me? In general, I guess the reason that I ask is because you saying that kind of resonates with me. And I think there was a time in my life where I felt like, I was maybe an outsider on the gay scene. And like, you know, I was taking part and participating. But I didn’t feel like, oh, I belong here. And this is community. And I think through doing this show and talking to lots of different people with lots of different experiences, it’s helped me to get to a point where I’m like, Oh, I actually just think everyone feels that way. In some Yeah.

Intesar Toufic  46:17

Possibly. Yeah. Maybe not. So let’s not even think about this thing.

K Anderson  46:21

Yeah. The whole concept of community is very weird. Because it’s so intangible. It’s not something you can point out and say this.

Intesar Toufic  46:31

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Actually, a good friend of mine pointed this out about himself. When, like years ago, he’s like, I don’t feel like I belong. And I told him, Well, you don’t fully belong anywhere, bits of you belong to different places. It depends on what you’re doing. Like, if you’re, you know, like, you’re, you’re a medicine student. So obviously, you’re a student at University, and you’re a doctor at the hospital. That’s where you belong, those times we’re doing those functions. So it’s not like the whole of you doesn’t have to fit in one place. It’s just the things that you do have to kind of be compatible for things to run smoothly.

K Anderson  47:07

Yeah, but there are times in your life when you do want that to be the case where you want to feel as though you belong.

Intesar Toufic  47:13

But love can make you feel that way even when you don’t belong. Yeah, like I think I’m loved by my community. I think because of my business. I think that I’m I’m loved by my community, but I don’t feel like I belong there. But you just

K Anderson  47:27

feel like I’m loved by them. You just said feeling loved by them can make you feel like

Intesar Toufic  47:33

it is what I am I am Lebanese and I am homosexual. So even though I don’t, I’m not like the others. There’s no I’m gonna do that others and that’s it, but I’m still I’m still that. And there’s way more important things are really really obsessive about you know, like when you when you deliberately think about these things that much you think about oh fuck, this was just out again. That was that was really, you know, you think okay,

K Anderson  48:00

sorry to make you self reflect. Do you have any memories of acid or clubbing from your own queer scene that you want to share? Well, if you do, I would love to hear all about it. Go to La spaces podcast.com and find the section share a lost space and tell me all about what it is you got up to. You can also reach me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as last spaces pod. Find out more about Indystar by following him on Twitter at classy BoomBoom or on Facebook at scandalous Arab and I have also included a link for an excerpt of to Facebook, the glorious print in the show notes for this programme, so make sure you go and give that a read. If you enjoyed this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribed left a review on your podcast platform of choice or just told people who you think might be interested in giving it a little listen to I am K Anderson and you have been listening to lost spaces