My Arabian Nights in Philadelphia

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Spending five evenings and nights in Philadelphia with four men from Saudi Arabia

MT. AIRY, PENNSYLVANIA.  by REV. STEPHEN PARELLI.   OCTOBER 28, 2016

Gay people are always coming out again and again and again.  I came out this week to four Saudi Arabian young men who are living together in Philadelphia.

A gated community
The share a large three-bedroom-two-bathroom apartment in a gated community with a large spa and health center – mammoth indoor pool (the setting for the movie Cocoon), locker room saunas, poolside Jacuzzi and an exercise room with machines, free weights and aerobic machines.

saudi-arabia-200-x-200Learning English before matriculating into college in America
They are between the ages of 19 and 20, fresh out of their Saudi Arabian high school living here, having arrived just more than two months ago, on a scholarship  provided by their government for their college education in the USA.

One of the four, at the urging of his Chinese English-language  teacher, signed up on Couch Surfing.  I was their first Couch Surfing guest.  Looking for housing through Couch Surfing I had the good fortune of staying with these four Saudian Arabians in their apartment for five nights while taking a one-week intensive course at The Lutheran Theologial Seminary at Philadelphia as part of my requirement for my DMin degree program.

Sunday night:  Introducing the topic of homosexuality
I had assumed the Saudi Arabian who had invited me to stay with him and his fellow countrymen, had read my profile and understood I am a gay man, married to a man.  He had not, however, read my profile.  He was just so excited to have this English speaker in his home – as were the other three.

Sunday evening they asked about my work which, of course, inevitably opened  the door to talk about how homosexuals are marginalized and discriminated throughout the world, in some places more than other places.  I told them I was immensely interested in the Arab world and homosexuality.  I discussed my paper on the Arab world and homosexuality as I have come to know it through my reading.  This was, of course, a two-way street, that is, to dialogue and learn, me and them, the meeting of two cultures, two religions, two perspectives.

Openly coming out to my Arabian hosts – talking about my gay sex life
Last evening, my last night in their apartment, after asking the usual questions like “When did you become gay? How did you know?,” they freely asked every question in the book about my personal life as a gay man, especially my sexual life with my husband.  Everyone, so it seems in my experience, wants to know about the bed and bedroom, naturally!  I freely told them how my sexual life with my husband evolved through the 19 years of our marriage, just like any heterosexual couple’s sex life together would evolve (and stay fresh and exciting!). I told them gay men are not all tops or bottoms, that other preferred likes and preferences in the bedroom come into play.  I discussed with them the open relationship I have with my husband and how that works.  I told them how my husband and I each have sexual turn-ons that are different from the other, but how we’ve learned to incorporate those respective turn-ons in our love making.

Men in Saudia Arabia f–k everything that moves!
I found that as I was transparent, they were transparent, too, especially about MSM (men who have sex with men) in Saudi Arabia.  On Sunday night, as we discussed together my work with Other Sheep, one of them in the group told me there are no homosexuals in Saudi Arabia. No one challenged that statement except me.

On Thursday evening as we discussed my personal life (my transparency about my sex life), one of them suddenly blurted out:  “Men in Saudi Arabia f—k everything that moves.  Men f—k  women, men and animals, everything that moves.”  But I quickly pointed out that it was my understanding that these men who have sex with men in Saudi Arabia would not self-identify as gay or homosexual if they are the penetrator and not the penetrated.  They agreed:  in Saudi Arabia, a man can have sex with men, in general, and not be considered gay or homosexual.  Also, they said, it would not be discussed openly, that is, to talk about men who have sex with men.  In spite of what is the practice, they reiterated that for men to have sex with men was not allowed per the teachings of Islam (I had shown on Sunday evening how progressive Islamic theologians take the view that Islam was not historically against homosexual practice as an immoral practice).

_____________________________

brossman-center-3This blog was written in, and published from, room 304 of the Brossman Center of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Mt. Airy, Philadelphia, on Friday, October 28, 2016.  On Tuesday, November 1, 2016, paragraph headings and photo were added.

Photo at Upper Right:  The Brossman Center of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (copied from the Internet, then cropped).

 

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1 comment for “My Arabian Nights in Philadelphia

  1. jim
    November 1, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    How wonderful you had a conversation like you did! Those guys were amazing for you! By the way, do you know what “Airy” in Mount Airy means in Arabic?

    I had COUNTLESS experiences with Arab, Persian, Pathan, Nepali, Iraqi, Indian, etc when I lived in the Persian Gulf states. All of my experiences were so good and memorable.

    ( I will tell you when I am in NYC with you both)

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