To be gay and to practice homosexuality are two different things. One is an act, one is an identity. Sometimes, the two cross. The idea that Afghanistan can be gay is somewhat of a strange notion. Still, that the punishment for homosexuality was a partial reason for the Taliban's rise to power indicates something is going on.
Since 9-11, I had a tremendous curiosity in visiting Afghanistan, largely because I am a New Yorker and feel that Afghanistan and New York are forever linked in history. As I read on Afghanistan, I came across numerous references to homosexuality in the country. Some were by journalists who were surprised to have passes made at them, others were soldiers who were repulsed. Still, other accounts were by women who could ask questions but only go so far.
My name is Michael Luongo, and I decided, as a gay journalist, to visit Afghanistan and better understand this phenomena. I found Afghanistan to be a very safe place to visit, in spite of what you read in the papers. The people are also the most warm and welcoming of any in the world. I also found the homosocial culture was gay friendly in its own weird way. I have been to Kabul where men ask you to have sex with them directly on the street, visited seeming cruising areas in Kandahar near temples as well as the walls which the Taliban murdered homosexuals. In Mazar and the surroundings, there is a history of men dressing as women to dance at weddings, and the videos of the dances are for sale in shops.
I recommend Afghanistan as a destination gay men should consider visiting. We can drink overpriced cosmos only for so long until it gets boring. Visiting Afghanistan puts a real twist into the definition of gay travel. Look for an upcoming book by me called "Men with Guns and Smiles" about my adventures in the near future.
No one is toppling walls on homosexuals anymore, but by going, you'll certainly be breaking walls of misunderstanding down between Afghanistan and the West.
Visit www.kabulguide.net for the best in Afghan tourist advice and ideas. www.globalgayz.com also has a comprehensive survey of articles on homosexuality on Afghanistan. Please also visit my main website www.michaelluongo.com for information on all of my work.
Below are some links to work I have done on Afghanistan, gay and non-gay. Click on the link or paste into your browser and look for fequent updates:
Gay City News: Afghanistan
FilmMaker Magazine: Filmmaking in Afghanistan
The Villager – Afghan War Rugs
New York Times: Kabul Business Travel
Please also visit:
where you can learn more about my work and purchase my books.
Please also visit:
a unique book which is a collection of edited true stories by gay Muslim and non-Muslim men.
Links to Planetout.com articles and photo exhibits are here: