"...remember, you're not in Lahore, you're in Birmingham."
January 12, 2015 4:08 AM   Subscribe

From Guardian Docs: Muslim Drag Queens
posted by flapjax at midnite (34 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
From Bollywood, the evergreen comedy scene.
posted by infini at 5:21 AM on January 12, 2015


That cannot be right. It would not be allowed by the religious police. After all, Birmingham is a "Muslim-only city" where non-Muslims "don't go", according to Fox News....
posted by MessageInABottle at 5:44 AM on January 12, 2015 [13 favorites]


That meme is hilarious.

BBC responds.
posted by infini at 5:54 AM on January 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


Dammit, MessageInABottle, you beat me to that.

What's worse, that moron has repeatedly testified to Congress about Islam.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:01 AM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Christ, I miss the curry in Birmingham.
posted by srboisvert at 6:05 AM on January 12, 2015 [3 favorites]






What's worse, that moron has repeatedly testified to Congress about Islam.

Depending on who asked him to do that complete ignorance could be more of a feature than a bug.
posted by Artw at 6:22 AM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


brilliantmistake, that quote from David Cameron is all the more infuriating, because I've never seen him say something that positive about how well Britain functions before. All the more gratifying that it's Birmingham, where he's supported a witchhunt against people supposedly performing radicalist Islamic takeovers of state schools.
posted by ambrosen at 6:29 AM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]




My favourite Birmingham tweet from today:
If you are a non-muslim and would like to visit Birmingham #illridewithyou #FoxNewsFacts - @Rabeb_Othmani
posted by memebake at 7:02 AM on January 12, 2015 [5 favorites]




But this is just business as usual at FOX, isn't it?
posted by sneebler at 7:17 AM on January 12, 2015


With experts like these, who needs enemies
posted by infini at 7:38 AM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


ambrosen, is this what you're referring to?

It's the Trojan Horse nonsense that's being referred to.

I work in a proudly multicultural Birmingham school and the whole thing has been deeply damaging to the generally pretty healthy schools system in the city.
posted by brilliantmistake at 7:49 AM on January 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sigh.

Heh.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 7:50 AM on January 12, 2015


The Birmingham flap is funny, but the linked video is better. These people are doing God's work.
posted by koeselitz at 8:24 AM on January 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Birmingham: It's My Kinda Town.
posted by sobarel at 8:30 AM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Birmingham: It's My Kinda Town .

Ah, rats. Video not available over here in the colonies.

But the youtube description: "In the 1970s, Birmingham attempted to reinvent itself as a city of the future - and recruited Telly Savalas to voice the narrative. A world of multi-storey car parks, concrete shopping centres and motorways..."

...tells me that I need this in my day.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:50 AM on January 12, 2015


Ah, found an upload of this that's available in Canada (and maybe elsewhere if that BBC is blocked there here.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:52 AM on January 12, 2015


Birmingham: It's Not Shit
posted by Webbster at 9:22 AM on January 12, 2015


The Birmingham flap is funny, but the linked video is better. These people are doing God's work.

How is this thread somehow about Birmingham? Did anybody even watch the video before flooding us with #FoxNewsFacts? Asifa deserves your attention!

For anyone still interested in Muslim drag queens, here's a Newsnight feature on the challenges facing gay people in the UK's South Asian community. Asif/Asifa is a vocal advocate at home and on the subcontinent, and at no small risk. Here's an interview with more context.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 9:25 AM on January 12, 2015 [8 favorites]


Birmingham: It's My Kinda Town

I love the fact that that starts with the cherry blossoms lining Bournville Lane, because that was the beginning of my walk to primary school. A real scent of madelines moment for me.
posted by ambrosen at 9:25 AM on January 12, 2015 [3 favorites]




Asifa deserves your attention!

Especially at 3:37 and 6:50 in the Guardian doc.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:52 AM on January 12, 2015


Fox News is right, Birmingham officially Muslim country.

Hooty-hoo! Also, we're out for revenge. White people, you're sitting on the back of the bus.

Just kidding, the bus is still only for poors.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:55 AM on January 12, 2015


Between the video and the companion article, I'm left pondering how drag performance relates to gender, both for the subjects of the documentary and in general.

One strange thing is that Asifa is referred to as "she" in the video but "he" in the article, so the whole thing is a bit confusing. Maybe she just doesn't care what pronouns people use. Why not clarify that as part of her portrayal, though? Were they afraid of muddying the narrative of "gay men who perform drag"?

I think it's fascinating that in all of the footage that made the cut, Rezzia is the only person who presents feminine outside of the context of a performance or night out. She's only ever identified by her stage name, though they manage to avoid pronouns altogether in the video. In the article, they use his given name Saied and use masculine pronouns for him all but once (which I assume with some reservations was at his request). The one time they use "her" is as a possessive for Rezzia's sari, which is indistinguishable from some kind of dodge or maybe an edit for clarity. Is this just the Guardian's failing, or is this an accurate representation of Rezzia's gender identity?

In the video, Ali seems to let his pronouns flow along with his presentation, but maybe that was just Asifa being presumptuous. Sure, feminine pronouns are the norm for queens when they're all done up, but at what point do you make the switch? Maybe for some people with a level of gender fluidity the stakes just aren't all that high and those transitional hours are an acceptable between-space where anything goes. Still, I find it strange that they show Ali talking about fear and nervousness and dejection, but they totally block out his psychology as it relates directly to gender and transformation and leave me to fill in the blanks.

We find out a bit about what it's like to be a drag queen, but the only person who really talks about what it's like to want to be a drag queen is Asifa. She talks about it almost as a means to an end, though, like a general fighting a war. I don't think she's being insincere, but I'm sure her soldiers have their own reasons, and I doubt they all think of themselves as soldiers. (That is pretty much the only thread they manage to maintain to the "Muslim" angle in the headline, so maybe that has something to do with it.)

Really, I'm struggling with the intersection of sexuality, drag, and gender. I mean, can you be a trans or genderqueer drag queen? Sure, why not, though the people responsible for this content don't seem to think so, or at least don't seem to care. Are any of the subjects of the documentary trans or genderqueer ? To an extent, that doesn't matter, and it's really none of my business. They're described as gay, which I guess implies that they are gay men, but that's sort of vague and feels a bit like a shortcut. Maybe they should have let Asifa, Ali, and Rezzia describe themselves in their own words. I mean, I can't help but think that someone who's so versed in gender as performance might have something interesting to say about gender as identity.

I expect that in general everyone would have their own story to tell, and that spectrum of experience might help people understand what needs and values make their struggles worthwhile. The justification presented here doesn't seem to reach beyond "I want it," which is totally valid, but a little decontextualized. I think part of the problem is that the filmmakers chose to frame the subjects' queerness under the general LGBT umbrella, while I'd really have appreciated a little more depth.

The thing is, I've always had complicated feelings toward drag and the way it gets presented through the filter of gender as camp and duct tape; there's a vulnerability that's often glossed over. What's frustrating me is that this video hinted at that vulnerability and grabbed me in a way that makes me want to sort all this out, but it never pointed me in the right direction. Instead, I feel like I've been left dizzy by my own ignorance.

At the risk of going off the deep end, while trans erasure is still pretty typical when the media covers the LGBT community, I think the hints of it in these pieces might represent a missed opportunity to cool the friction between the trans and drag communities and further educate the viewer in general. Their own confusion over pronouns implies that they're watering down the narrative a little bit here, and an extra minute of footage could have challenged people's assumptions and added an important element to the discussion.

At any rate, for all my griping, it was still a wonderful and touching little film.
posted by WCWedin at 10:57 AM on January 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Have you ever come across the 'third gender' concept from South Asia? There may be some of that via bits of culture such as popular cinema and in the context of language that may be adding a layer of complexity to the identities.
posted by infini at 11:06 AM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, that encounter at about 3:30, when they're getting in the car. I'm not sure what's going on there exactly. Is their harasser slurring badly or maybe using slag I've never heard before? Without knowing what the words are/mean, I can't even tell of the three people off-camera (the drunk, the driver, and the camera operator) who's actually saying what most of the time. I guess the particulars are sort of insubstantial, but I can't help but wonder just what transpired.
posted by WCWedin at 11:11 AM on January 12, 2015


That cannot be right. It would not be allowed by the religious police. After all, Birmingham is a "Muslim-only city" where non-Muslims "don't go", according to Fox News....

I thought ya'll were talking about Birmingham Alabama at first... I was getting increasingly confused (world-class curry in Alabama, really?).

It is fun to think of Birmingham, AL as a multicultural hub with an active Islamic drag club scene hopping at night though.
posted by el io at 1:33 PM on January 12, 2015


I imagine that the only thing odder than an academic conference on Kraftwerk is such a conference taking place inside a Sharia-law caliphate which also has drag queens.
posted by acb at 3:17 PM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Birmingham is basically the Budayeen, everybody knows that.
posted by Artw at 3:27 PM on January 12, 2015


"Disco Saathi operates a strict no-camera policy"

"But everybody used their phones"

I'm not sure 'strict' was the word they were looking for there.
posted by el io at 7:10 PM on January 12, 2015


I'm not sure what's going on there exactly. Is their harasser slurring badly or maybe using slag I've never heard before?

I watched the video last night, can't rewatch it right now -- as I remember the harasser is talking in Black British English (to the extent that such a dialect is a valid construction, etc etc). He does sound like he might be a bit drunk but his meaning is clear enough; his words boil down to "That's a man though! Ew! That's gay! How you gon' let him do that? (Why would you/anyone let him do that)? Yeah, show off your man voice!" (etc).
posted by Drexen at 7:14 AM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


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