Then I find out, it’s a whole society.” This society thrives just below the surface.
“They’re quite shameless about it.” Talal, a Syrian who moved to Riyadh in 2000, calls the Saudi capital a “gay heaven.” This is surprising enough.
But what seems more startling, at least from a Western perspective, is that some of the men having sex with other men don’t consider themselves gay.
But if I have a date upstairs and my family is downstairs, they won’t even come up.” Notorious for its adherence to Wahhabism, a puritanical strain of Islam, and as the birthplace of most of the 9/11 hijackers, Saudi Arabia is the only Arab country that claims sharia, or Islamic law, as its sole legal code.
The list of prohibitions is long: It’s haram—forbidden—to smoke, drink, go to discos, or mix with an unrelated person of the opposite gender.
They meet in schools, in cafés, in the streets, and on the Internet.