Outreach, Not Piling On. How to Talk with Homophobes.
As someone who had a relatively conservative upbringing in Tripoli, I grew up sharing a lot of Mr. Sibai’s ideas. Whether out of intellectual laziness or habit, it was the only way to reconcile a religious view of the world with the existence of homosexuals.
I was lucky later in my life to meet several people. People who went to AUB with me. People I really liked and then found out later that they were gay. From my own experience, I can tell you that the only way some people will accept and love gay people is to really get to know some of them.
This brings me back to why I like Raja’s blog post most. It’s because he understands a very important insight: This is not an intellectual debate. It is one about human compassion and empathy. This is about bonding over a cup of coffee.
Bloggers came up with all sorts of arguments and “rebuttals” to Mr. Sibai, but that’s not how things work. You will never “convince” him to stop “hating” (“hating” is such a misguided word. It reminds me of how Mona el Tahhawi accused Arab men of hating women). Most importantly, all the arguments in the world will not change the minds of the thousands of people who secretly agree with Sibai and are resenting the way bloggers are piling up on him.
Sibai can do one of two things: He can choose to become a martyr and a hero to his supporters, or he could have a cup of coffee. I really hope he chooses the latter.