Male belly dancer gives amazing inspiration to transgendered Muslims

Finally, a bit of good news from the Middle East!  A groundbreaking Lebanese male belly dancer is giving transgendered Muslims the confidence to be themselves in their own bloomers!

Alexander Paulikevitch first came out to his classmates and friends when he was 16.  Now 35, he is a choreographer and dancer specializing in contemporary baladi, a type of belly dancing.

An old dance form, it was traditionally performed by women for women.  More recently, it has been viewed as a dance by women to seduce men. 

Alexander performs for many in Beirut.

Alexander gets up early in the morning to practice gyrating his hips before Hezb'allah sharpshooters have had their first cup of coffee.

In the photo above, Alexander waves to one of his many fans.

Alexander is not exactly transgendered.  He is a man who calls himself a man who is attracted to men but dresses like a woman.  This is distinctly different from men who call themselves women who are attracted to men and also dress like women, as well as men who call themselves women who are attracted to women and also dress like women (the lattermost group being trans-lesbians).  Nor is Alexander a Muslim.  But a lot of Muslims in Beirut come to see him perform, and he inspires them with his transsexual boldness.

Here's a review of one of his performances:

The ambiguity and inscrutability continues until the musical tempo accelerates.  By now the stage is brighter, and Paulikevitch with his lion mane emerges fully cross-dressed in a champagne-colored sequined evening dress.  He whirlwinds [sic] around the stage, pulling again at the sculptural figure, which may be a monumental tuft of hair or, conceivably, a fundamentalist's beard.  The dance stops.  The artist starts to undress, and then, completely naked except for his string underwear, he trembles and quivers.  White gloved hands grab at him from all sides, violating him and reminding us of the women raped in Tahrir Square.

I think it's great that the LGBTQ community is making such inroads in the Middle East.  I just wonder how much progress it has made in specific areas such as these:

1) We know Sunnis and Shi'ites are in conflict with each other.  Does that mean they have separate gay pride marches every year?

2) In progressive madrassas, are transitioning students asked what pronouns they prefer to be called by?

3) Does the Taliban or Islamic State pay for "sex change" operations for its transgendered soldiers?

4) If a transgendered Muslim man starts dressing as a woman, does Saudi law require him to wear a burka?

5) If a gay couple walk into a bakery in Tehran to buy a wedding cake, will they have a choice of different flavors of icing?

6) What happens if a suicide bomber starts calling himself a woman before he detonates?  Does he still get 72 virgins, or does he get 72 virgin men?

Ed Straker is the senior writer at

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