|The locals call this place "Shari al-Hubb," or "Street of Love." The gossips say that children have been conceived here and couples have been spotted engaging in oral.|
Beirut, Lebanon. As techno music blares from the loudspeakers in the dim light, patrons shout their drink orders across the bar. Boys in tight jeans and unbuttoned, white shirts, their hair perfectly styled, jostle their way onto the dance floor. The men shake their hips, clap their hands and embrace -- but without touching all too obviously. After all, those who go too far could end up being thrown out of "Acid," Beirut's most popular gay disco. Officially, "Acid" is nothing more than a nightclub in an out-of-the-way industrial neighborhood.
As liberal as Lebanon is, flaunting one's is verboten. Gays are tolerated, but only as long as they remain under the radar and conceal their activities from public scrutiny.
For many in the Arab world, discretion is the only option when it comes to experiencing lust and passion. There are secret spots everywhere, and they are often the only place to go for those forced to live with the contradictions of the modern Islamic world. In countries whose governments are increasingly touting strict morals and chastity, prohibitions have been unsuccessful at suppressing everyday. Religious censors are desperately trying to put a stop to what they view as declining morals in their countries, but there is little they can do to stop satellite TV, the Internet and text messaging.