Arab Love: Queer Lens

With its inagural screening at the LGBT Center in San Francisco in 2017, Arab Love has been AFMI’s recurrent program focused on sharing the stories of the LGBTQ Arab community.

As our Executive Director Serge Bakalian told the Bay Area Reporter, “LGBTQI members of our community face additional discrimination from within and without simply based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. I’ve always believed that film provides the means to counteract divisiveness, ignorance, and fear with empathy. LGBTQI Arabs are an integral part of the Arab community, and showing films by and about their lives helps us reaffirm that.

In 2024, Arab Love: Queer Lens returned with an online selection of short films that explored the complicated nature of gender and sexuality in relationships, and the pressure young queer people experience across the Arab world to act a role that is inauthentic to their true selves.

We continue to program new films and beloved classics to celebrate Arab Love: Queer Lens. To be the first to know about new screenings and events, sign up for our online newsletter.


AFMI - Arab Love: Queer Lens Collage of movie stills

Queer Lens at the Arab Film Festival

In 2019, the 23rd Arab Film Festival included a sold out evening of Arab shorts from and about the LGBTQ+ community.

Queer Lens: LGBTQ+ Showcase included 2 hours of award-winning films about queer Arabs by queer filmmakers, bridging the gap of representation per specific facets of the underrepresented queer Arab experience so often ignored by the mainstream. Putting the spotlight on these films celebrated the multi-dimensions of Arab queerness as an antidote of one-size-fits-all “Western Queer Narrative” that ignores the many complexities and nuances faced by LGBTQ+ persons in the Arab World and beyond, including Arab Americans and Muslims.

Queer Lens inspired the audience to re-visit and re-contextualize what they thought they knew about Arab queerness, as if beholding the refracted prism of a lens flare to reveal truths that shine in ways they had not seen before.

Queer Arab Films to Watch

On our blog you can also find a list of favorite LGBTQ+ Arab movies to watch. It’s always the right time to celebrate people of all sexual orientations and genders and here at AFMI, we of course love celebrating by watching movies. People are often surprised to learn that queer Arab films and filmmakers openly exist, but they most certainly do and this misconception makes it all the more important that we acknowledge and support their stories.

Arab Love: Queer Lens
Arab Love: Queer Lens