He has mostly straight friends and a few gay friends with whom he talks, studies, shops, and hangs with when not in class.Returning to the issue of his ‘confinement’ in Tunisia, at his young age Ari feels the ennui of a privileged child who has been given a liberal early education at private schools, who comes from a family devoid of fundamentalist religious attitudes, who has developed an intelligent and wide-ranging open mindedness toward the West and has a worldliness beyond his peers whom he often finds boring and focused on shallow interests.In Tunisia gay life has many faces: from secretive post-marital same-sex-not-gay quickies among straight husbands, to ongoing pre-marital youth same-sex-not-gay with friends, to totally gay friendship networks among different age peers, to monogamous boyfriend couples to discrete liaisons from the internet.It is not easy to label the ‘scene’ here because it is not organized, not open, not admitted, yet it’s cruisy, sexy, internet-connected and quite populous. During my visit I chatted with two very different gay men, one a young student at a local university and the other a retired Italian resident of Tunis now self-employed. Ari, a university student studying architecture, and I met at tea time and had creamy thick hot chocolate at a trendy modern coffee shop and later went for pizza across the street.Despite the early hopes of the Tunisian political revolution of 2011 subsequent elections brought an Islamist party to majority power due mostly to the secularists splintering into separate parties and unable to unite. More than one gay person believes the former authoritarian government was at least more tolerant of LGBT citizens than the present one.One said the ousted president Ben Ali was privately tolerant of LGBT people as long as they didn’t get involved in politics.He is from a well to-do family who know he is gay and are accepting of him although it’s mostly dealt with by silence: don’t-ask-don’t-tell. All his friends know he is gay and he has no difficulty finding dates when he’s not putting long hours in at school.
Part of his ‘curse’ is being gay and privileged in a ‘third-world’ conservative Muslim country.
“I feel love with such strong feelings…” All of which sound within normal limits for an active young gay person in a randy and random gay world (real and virtual) with no role models or guiding mature peers.
Ari does not know any older gay men, who are hard to find since they are very discrete.
Ari readily admits that he is easily urged to love and passion by his heart: “First by my heart, then my cock then my brain is last,” he said laughing.
Such impulses lead him to slippery feelings for other men, with shallow judgments and intense desires.
I’m not allowed to talk about guys but I can have all the sex I want before marriage.