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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > March 2019 > MAN OF THE MOMENT


Boodi Kabbani, the world’s first openly gay Syrian actor, tells Attitude what it’s like to live in a dictatorship and about making cinematic history
Photography Markus Bidaux

Meet Syria’s irst queer ilm star: Boodi Kabbani. Flamboyant, passionate and forthright, he enters the cafe of Foyles bookshop in a lurry of earrings and eye-liner. After fleeing torture in Syria and being granted asylum in Finland, a chance meeting led to Boodi clinching a starring role in Mikko Makela’s 2017 release A Moment in the Reeds.

The ilm explores the afair between a young Finnish man (Janne Puustinen) and Boodi’s gay Syrian immigrant, and has been screened around the world. Boodi has emerged as not only a young actor with great promise, but waving a rainbow lag for Syrian LGBT+ people, who are almost invisible in his war-torn home land.

“It’s really emotional,” he says, on the verge of tears. “The fact that other people are going to see it and can just live as themselves and not feel they are a sinner or a bad person… There’s no representation for LGBT+ people from the Middle East and people of colour. “Even when we irst talked, Mikko and I decided not to do ‘that character’. I didn’t want [my character, Tareq] to be a stereotype of a macho, hairy Middle Eastern guy who is a top only. I thought: ‘Hell no, I want to get fucked in the ilm’. Why do we always portray that macho thing? No, he’s OK with his sexuality.” Boodi is a breath of fresh air when he speaks so determinedly about his character, proudly usurping the notion of the Arab power top. But, growing up in Damascus, his experience of family was full of macho expectation. He sufered from the stereotypical Muslim narrative of oppressing queer behaviour.

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About Attitude

On the cover: Dsquared2 from drag to designing for Madonna! Inside: Joel Edgerton on directing Boy Erased, the queer Brazilians resisting Bolsonaro, Syria's first openly gay actor, Owen Jones, and more.