Joseph Massad at UCLA: Gay-Bashing 101


A lecture last week at the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies (CNES) offered a mixture of intellectually deficient material mixed with a dash of bigotry. It was delivered by Joseph Massad, associate professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University.

The topic of Massad’s lecture was “Pre-Positional Conjunctions: Sexuality and/in Islam.” While past CNES lectures resulted in Israel-bashing and anti-Semitism, UCLA finally decided to honor its commitment to diversity by attacking another minority group. This time, homosexuals had their turn in the multicultural bile wheel.

From inception to completion, Massad’s lecture was nothing more than gay-bashing. This was on par with the thesis of Massad’s 2007 book, Desiring Arabs, which posits that gay sexuality among Muslims does not exist. Rather, it is a Western plot designed to undermine the Muslim world.

Massad echoed many of these bigoted themes in his lecture. He explained that “Queer is about resistance to Islam.” Similarly, he said that “There is no Arabic transliteration of queer. It is a judgmental notice of deviance.” In a particularly striking claim, Massad insisted that, for Muslims, concepts like “hate and sexuality are only translatable to English-speaking people.” Muslim honor killings, presumably, are only a figment of non-Muslims imagination.

Massad also used the occasion to present a novel – and decidedly homophobic – conspiracy theory. “Queer is an imperialist term,” he announced. “It is part of the Anglo-American gay agenda.” Indeed, according to Massad, “queer is an example of cultural imperialism.” It followed, by his perverse logic, that the “use of ‘gay’ in Iran is imperial politics.” The claim called to mind Mahmoud Ahmadinejad notorious speech at Columbia University, in which he assured the audience that there are no gay people in his country. It’s notable that the views of a theocratic despot should find such staunch backing in the hear of supposedly progressive academia.

Most bizarrely, Massad admitted he was “very interested in talking to people about their sexual experiences if they want to tell me.” Ostensibly, Arabs and Muslims would have been excluded from that discussion, since Massad also claimed that “there is no such thing as Iran/Arab/Muslim sexuality. Sexuality is an English notion.”

During a question and answer period, an audience member brought up Massad’s apparent discomfort behind the word “queer.” What word should be used instead, the questioner wanted to know? Challenged on his views, Massad offered up an answer that revealed much about the close-mindedness of modern academia. “I am not sure any discourse is necessary,” he said.

Eric Golub is the publisher of the Tygrrrr Express blog. He wrote this article for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.

  • Ipso Facto

    According to the Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World:

    "Whatever the legal strictures on sexual activity, the positive expression of male homeoerotic sentiment in literature was accepted, and assiduously cultivated, from the late eighth century until modern times. First in Arabic, but later also in Persian, Turkish and Urdu, love poetry by men about boys more than competed with that about women, it overwhelmed it. Anecdotal literature reinforces this impression of general societal acceptance of the public celebration of male-male love (which hostile Western caricatures of Islamic societies in medieval and early modern times simply exaggerate). …. "

    In a tradition from the Arabian Nights, Muhammad was said to have warned his followers against staring at youth because of their beauty: "Do not gaze at beardless youth, for they have eyes more tempting than the houris."

    Homosexuality was and is widely practised in Islamic conutries. To please the homosexuals among his followers the Prophet promised them pre-pubescent boys in Paradise. So after committing plunder, loot, rape and murder in this life, the followers of Islam get "rewarded" by untouched virginal youths who are fresh like pearls.

    The relevant verses from the Koran are:

    Koran 52:24:

    "Round about them will serve, to them, boys (handsome) as pearls well-guarded."
    Koran 56:17:

    "Round about them will serve boys of perpetual freshness."

    Koran 76:19:

    "And round about them will serve boys of perpetual freshness: if thou seest them, thou wouldst think them scattered pearls."

    Many famous poets in Arabia glorified homosexuality. Here and example from a poem in 'Perfumed Garden' by Abu Nuwas:

    "O the joy of sodomy!
    So now be sodomites, you Arabs.
    Turn not away from it–
    therein is wondrous pleasure.
    Take some coy lad with kiss-curls
    twisting on his temple
    and ride as he stands like some gazelle
    standing to her mate.
    A lad whom all can see girt with sword
    and belt not like your whore who has
    to go veiled.
    Make for smooth-faced boys and do your
    very best to mount them, for women are
    the mounts of the devils."

    Homosexuality is hardly part of an Anglo-American gay agenda to corrupt Islam, but part of an Arabic and Islamic culture from its very beginning. And much more accepted in Islam than in Christianity.

    • Doug


      You are trying to defend "homosexuality in Islam" and elect to do so with snippets from the Koran that allegedly promote pedophilia.

      Gay Activists are perpetually insisting that the gay community does not have a severe problem with pedophilia, though research shows a rate of pedophilia many times higher than in the rest of society. Your little window into your soul as shown here either: (1) shows clearly your perverse pedophile interests prove the problem among gays with pedophilia; or, (2) shows you are a deviant within the gay community who, unlike others, wants to despoil little boys. I'll leave it to you to figure that out.

      • Tryon

        Ipso's post contains not a single word of advocacy, one way or another. Your own imposition of motives in what appears to be a straightforward elucidation of historical facts seems far more suggestive of a deviant intention than your target. By your logic, three-fourths of academia should be in jail for promoting the illicit deeds that they simply research and clarify. Pederasty was rampant in Muslim realms for centuries (and probably still is), as any cursory reading of history will confirm.

        • Doug

          Trying to understand

          so – you are saying Ipso was NOT trying to defend "Homosexuality in Islam"?
          or, are you saying he was NOT doing so with snippets from the Koran that allegedly promote pedophilia?

          If you CAN'T come to an actual finding of these 2, then I would argue that my conclusions hold.

        • Ipso Facto

          Thank you for being objective. I am just pointing out some historical facts and not engaged in pasing moral judgement.

          However, it is interesting to note that none of the monotheistic religions have stated a minimum legal age of concent in their Holy Scriptures, thus implicitly allowing peadophilia with the opposite sex.

          The concept of peadophilia as an illegal act was formed by humanistic thinkers and later adapted in Christianity and Judaism, but is still foreign in Islam.

    • Peachey

      Mohammed promised many things in the Islamic paradise the first being young boys with alabaster skin, the second all the intoxicants that they could want, and lastly women without bad breath, no body hair or periods. Just goes to show where his desires lay.

  • Whistle_Blower

    “There is no Arabic transliteration of queer. It is a judgmental notice of deviance.”

    TRANSLITERATION? "Professor" Massad's got his terms mixed up. What he means is

    Transliteration is a spelling mechanism, having to do with how something sounds in one language and "transliterating" it (using the alphabet of the 2nd language) into another language so speakers of the 2nd language can pronounce the term. It has nothing to do with the "meaning" of a term.

    But he's wrong even here. I personally know several common and widely understood contemporary Arabic words for "queer" and it's epigones. Here they are (transliterated into English from Arabic):

    MAMHOON……….SHAADH………MANYAK…….KHAWAL….and so on.

    If the good Professor were to hear these words, I guarantee you he would immediately understand what they mean and be forced to eat his contention that the term "queer" does not exist in Arabic.

  • USMCSniper

    Ahhhh, yes,,,,here we go again defending defending the deviancy and debauchery of the turd pirates and the tuna fish breaths and of course, the standard condemnation of those who won't sanction homosexuality.

  • JosephWiess

    If homosexuality has never existed in Arabia, then why does the Quran state, "Thou shalt not lie with a man, like you lie with a woman."

    That sounds a lot like homosexuality to me.

    • Doug


      it sounds, rather, like an admonition AGAINST homosexuality.

      • JosephWiess

        Exactley, if it had never happened, then why have an admonition against it? Logically, since there is an admonition, it has happened before, and Mohammed was afraid it would happen again.

        Just saying.

        • Doug

          Ya know —- I'll bet you are right and it DID happen. Once. Maybe twice. Or more.

          But even the devotees of Mohamed realized it was a path to destruction and admonished against such deviant behavior. And they have held fast to their belief, the progressive movement notwithstanding.

          Of course, WE are lucky enough to have a host of folks from Hollywood to SF filling the airwaves about how darned 'backward' such notions are. Lucky us.

          Just saying …….

        • Peachey

          Joseph, in the Koran, homosexual acts only occur when the male has facial hair. The Koran encourages sex with young boys since this is viewed as desireable over sex with women, and much safer since women are believed to be demon-filled.

  • Doug

    Why is it that – in spite of the continual denials – the gay community is ripe with pedophiliac cravings?

    Most people NOT in the gay community see child molesters as evil and subhuman. Many gays continue to see little boys as fresh meat.

    Whatz up wid dat, gays?

  • Frank Daniels

    As a gay dude I have a problem with Mr. Massad . In fact Eric Golub and I have many times discussed the homophobic tendencies of Mr. Massad over dinner and we both are appalled at his comments.

    • Doug

      Is that supposed to be a slap at DOCTOR Massad or praise?

      A claim that someone is "homophobic", it seems to me, has evolved into a badge of honor.

      but, one never knows. Perhaps you mean this in the way the term was used BEFORE the current spate of activism.

  • Nilsson

    Believe it or not, a very large number of the people David Horowitz tries to get on hs side– such as white Christian conservatives– continue to see homosexual behavior as a sin and a shame, not 'in the genes' but a dislocation of normal sexuality which can and should be suppressed in its expression, and can and should be rectified by reparative therapy.

    Until a few years ago this was also the attitude of the law, the medical profession and the 'enlightened'. At best, homosexuals were expected to keep their practises and the arrested-development psychology which impelled it to themselves. 'Don't ask, don't tell' was for all, not just the military, and this country was a less sordid place for it.

    Besides, as others have noted, the incidence of pederasty and paedophilia is enormously higher among male homosexuals than the normal majority, and don't ever let their spokesmen kid you otherwise. It is bound to be so, because a homosexual is by definition a man who never grew up.

    Don't expect us to spring to the defense of this sainted 'minority' just because some obscure professor has some disagreeable things to say about their perversions.

  • LucidThought

    Wow! Talk about having missed the point! How did this discussion come to focus on indicting gays OR Islam? What is notable about this story is the fact that the academic community can't bring itself to denounce either! The intelligentsia is in a quandary, since they so pride themselves on their unconditional acceptance of both groups. Would they behave similarly if a campus GLBT group publicly trashed Muslims…? This is the kind of thing that could cause a campus intellectual's head to explode.

    Which would be a start…

    • Doug

      the most lucid thing spoken here.

      I almost would wish it to happen – just for the purposes of science, mind you.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    The strangest part of the wonderful Professor Joseph Massad is that he must
    live a closed and cloistered life without news. Can I be wrong or did he totally
    miss the recent hangings of two gay boys in Iran. Well maybe Iran is not part
    of the Islamist culture. To bad for those young men that the Professor was not
    available to give evidence and testimony at their trial that the offense does not
    exist and thus no foul no harm, no ham is a given.

    • Doug

      Were you at the lecture?


      Have you ever been quoted in the media? If "yes", then you would be a bit more timid about the kind of conclusion you jumped to.

      Perhaps Massad was saying that deviance was not 'common' as it seems to be here. But, since only 2.3% of the population is homosexual (according to the latest CDC report), the "appearance" of commonality seems to just be the out-of-control PROMOTION of homosexuality. So, maybe he was saying homosexuality is not PROMOTED in his native country as it is here. Or, maybe they do not tolerate it as is done here (ergo the hangings – maybe these 2 were inducting little boys into their nest – not tolerated there; ho hum here).

      But i guess you were in attendance and so know first hand what REALLY happened.

      • WilliamJamesWard

        What conclusion? Perhaps?Maybe? Maybe? Timid, not in my never humble
        opinion. If you are a fly on the wall you are in the wrong building. You need
        to read more carefully…………William

        • Doug

          A man and his inner fool are not easily parted.

          • WilliamJamesWard

            You have nothing to say.

  • bropous

    We all know that if these same things were said about homosexuals by a caucasian professor of Anglo heritage he would not have a job the following day. However, the homosexual lobby continually refuses to declare open hostility towards Mulsims who kill homosexuals just for being homosexual, and instead focuses its attention and outright hatred upon Christians, who only DISAGREE with homosexuality and don't advocate murder when it comes to homosexualitty.

    THAT is a real perversion.

  • bropous

    And it is disgusting that these homosexual pedophiles of the Muslim world see little boy's rear ends as a source (or depository) of sexual excitement and pleasure. Children are innocent creatures and should be regarded as such. We all know of Islam's desigusting attitudes towards women, which makes me want to just yank the hijab off women when I see them walking the streets of America with the symbol of their enslavements proudly displayed for all the world to see.

    Islam is a religion of evil, and it, and its hardcore fanatic homosexual pedophile followers should be eradicated. There is certainly no need whatsoever for more Muslim fanatic pervert vaginophobes in America.

    Gee, I wonder how many little boys ObaMao has violated, like a good little foillower of the moon god of the Arabian peninsula?

  • Clyde Duchaine

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  • Clamato Tomato

    Disagree with him all you want, Joseph Massad is a genius. Who else could provoke such a debate that brings together and shows the underlying unity between the legions of pig-headed homophobic assholes; the bigoted, racist, anti-Islamic war-mongers–whose extreme ignorance is almost beyond belief; the fundamentalist Christian hate-mongers; and the erstwhile defenders of "queer" homosexuality? The extreme hatred and ignorance in all the preceding drivel almost proves his esoteric point, and I bet that is exactly what he intended.

    God bless you Joseph Massad!

  • darkprince

    I took a class with Dr. Massad last semester, and even though his ideas are provocative he makes a clear distinction between the labels: gay, queer and homosexual, which are all in fact Western concepts. If people want to take on these identities so be it, but the concept of sexuality was invented in the 19th century, and it has been enforced throughout the world via colonialism and modernity. Dr. Massad is on the forefront of critiquing imperialist cultural practices and an obsolete queer theory. He is a huge supporter of Judith Bulter and does not believe in the binaries of sexuality. This is quite commendable, and Columbia is lucky to have him on the faculty.

    • Pathena

      Dr. Massad is an ignoramus, since the concept of sexuality was NOT invented in the 19th century. One of Aristophanes' comedies makes fun of a homosexual couple in Athens. See Plato's Symposium where homosexuals like Eryximachus try to justify homosexuality, and Aristophanes makes fun of everybody by explaining how in the beginning our ancestors were balls who rolled, had four legs, and reproduced by laying seed on the ground. Some of them were female, some male, and some both sexes. Because they got obstreperous, Zeus had them cut down to size, with two legs. Love is searching for the other half, so the all-female ones were homosexual females, the all-male ones homosexual males, and the half-male half females were the normal heterosexuals! Socrates is the only one to talk of love as the means of reproduction, and he learned this from a woman, Diotima.

  • pet friendly hotels

    I love your story,Its too nice and interesting.

  • Mimi

    they took it out of context

  • SK

    You’ve really misunderstood his argument basically. What he says is that ‘queer’ is a modern term that has been imposed on the rest of the world; he is most certainly not saying that there are no ‘queers’ in these countries but that they do not consider themselves ‘queer’. Same-sex love and relationships are part and parcel of their sexualities. They do and have practiced them for centuries and in far more open ways than the rest of the world. The only difference is that they don’t openly acknowledge it as homosexuality but as part and parcel of a wider sexuality that includes hetero-, homo-, bi-, and transsexualities that are even commemorated in the likes of Sufi poetry. So… it seems you’ve misunderstand what the man is saying. He is so not anti-homosexuals.

    He is just anti-‘gay rights’ groups forcing their versions of homosexuality (w/ their labels, etc.) on people in other countries much like feminists have and still do. And before you attack me, I am a hard-core feminist – I just don’t appreciate being told what that means by a neo-imperialist.

  • C

    This article is more a reflection of the writer’s assumptions and stereotypes about Islam and the Arab world than about Massad’s actual position. Does your claim that he is gay-bashing align with the fact that he self-identifies as MSM? His is an argument directly from Foucault (1978:43), who charts a moment in recent history in the West when the term “sodomy” (a person who engages in a particular act) was replaced with “homosexuality” (an essential identity or nature). Massad is saying that this transformation in thought about sexuality did not occur elsewhere as it had in the West, and that to impose the homo/hetero binary onto these communities is to be implicit in imperialism. If Ahmadinejad said that there are no gay people in Iran, Massad is saying that there may be people who engage in sexual practices that others might label “gay,” but that these individuals do not self-identify as such–much like a European in the 17th century might engage in sodomy but would not ascribe to an essential sexual *identity* that would later be termed “homosexual.”

  • http://http.// BravoBily

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  • Federated Republic

    GOD WHO? WHAT GOD? Hmm! A man-made contrivance to compensate for mans fears and ignorance and nothing more!

  • Peachey

    A retired Army physicain at our church relates the same experiences. VD's are so pervasive in Afganistan to have actually been declared an emergency. The problems faced by medical personnel is that Afganie men refuse treatment and of course pass the disease on to wives and others they come in contact with.Cases of oral VD is rampant in children as young as 3 years of age and parents are frequently confused as to the origins of the disease and resist treatment. A very sad enviroment to live and die in.