I liked it. I wasn't "surprised" by it in the sense that I was already aware of Middle Eastern attitudes toward homosexuality (which seem like double standards to the West, but instead reflect cultural mores that stretch back into Antiquity—even if I do hope that they'll liberalize someday too). It was, however, a level of personal detail I hadn't really read prior...always fascinating.
I used to live in Saudi Arabia and people often ask me about men-having-sex-with-men there, and usually they are assuming that its a product of the strict gender segregation or some kind of religious hypocrisy. But I always say that we can't pathologize it or try to "explain" it in some way. Its a country will millions of inhabitants, so of course there are going to be having sex with other men, we shouldn't be surprised or titillated by it all, its merely a human inevitability.
Aren't these the same double standards that existed in the West until 25 years ago? Norms that here also "stretched back to antiquity."
It's not the same, no. Any kind of same-sex behaviour in the West is interpreted as "gay," whereas (as reflected in the article) there is differentiation between the "active" and "passive" partner, with only the latter largely being seen as "gay," along with considerable tolerance for gay sex as long as you also maintain a heterosexual family.
These kinds of attitudes existed in Greco-Roman times—and well before that in the ancient Near East/Middle East—along with being vaguely referenced in the Bible, which is why many scholars object when people interpret blanket "anti-gay" condemnations from the Bible. It was never that simple then, and it isn't either today in the Islamic world.
Actually, there are many people in the US who view only the passive partner as gay. I used to encounter this notion a lot at a health clinic where I worked. There are whole worlds of people you'll never encounter on the internet who think all kinds of things that make you think twice about any kind of cohesive US mindset.
In regards to the above quote, who knew Pakistan was just like SEA/SFO/NYC?
"He claims to have slept with more than 3,000 men during his working life - despite having two wives and eight children."
I have obviously been living my life incorrectly. I could be having it all!
Is SEA Seattle?
I spent some time in Pakistan and it is obvious that men have very intimate relationships with each other. They hold hands in streets, have their hands all over each other all the time... that is considered normal. Women and men are segregated to a ridiculous extent so it's not like they know any women outside the family. Women never go out alone and in rural areas they hardly ever leave the house. I think sex with other men is not considered sex, just some sort of ambiguous fun time. ( none of this applies to the intellectual elite who are very westernized )
I met several westerners who were there for the good cruising.
Something tells me that husbands would not be okay with women sleeping with women outside the marriage. Hopefully the marriage of convenience works out for them.
Well then you've never read any of the rich literature on the women who are sex workers in Pakistan's "diamond district".
No...point me towards it?