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Arts & Culture

A life. A misunderstanding.

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

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I caught up with Jean-Pierre Leclerc about his book Un mal entendu.

Why did you feel compelled to tell this story?

I had a weight on my shoulders. I knew that I was different from when I was six years old. It’s taken me 50 years to work out how to be free.

Would you describe this as a memoir, or is it more fiction than fact?

It’s a memoir. I’ve changed the names of the people and some places out of respect for everyone involved.

You’ve written the story together with Huguette Conilh, was that helpful to have someone else helping to shape the story you wanted to tell?

It was indispensable! She knew how to find the words to describe my emotions.

If I’d written this by myself it would have been a much more extreme account of events.

How long did it take to write?

It was written in two stages. At first, we spent about three months talking about the scope of the story. Then Huguette did some research before we began to write. In total it took about one year.

Did writing this story help you to heal some of the hurt you’ve experienced?

It’s definitely helped to heal some of the wounds, but it hasn’t closed all of the scars.

What do you hope that people feel when reading your story?

I hope that people will understand the need to accept our difference. I needed to find the man who could love me for who I am, not just who could give me the most pleasure.

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Arts & Culture

Giving a voice to gay Arab men

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Samer Bo (image supplied)
Samer Bo (image supplied)

I caught up with author Samer Bo to talk about writing erotic gay fiction in Egypt.

What led you to start writing erotic gay fiction?

I was forgetting what was happening. I noticed that when someone asked me about what happened to me the previous week, I couldn’t remember the details.

I think forgetting was my defence-mechanism for all the pain and trouble.

So, I started by writing my diaries, which ended to be quite erotic sometimes. Then that moved to erotic fiction.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your stories?

Inspiration comes from my personal experiences and sometimes my friends’ experiences. Other times, I just meet a guy or watch a movie, and it inspires me to write a story.

Who are your target audience?

I write for myself before anyone else. I’d love all gay men to read and get aroused by my stories.

But I guess I do write for minorities — people who don’t usually get represented in media, porn, or erotic stories. I want people to see themselves represented in my novels.

What sort of feedback do you get from your readers?

I get a lot of positive feedback from people in the Middle East who finally find a voice speaking to them. Some see me as a role model — a type of Egyptian guy that they never see in the media.

Do your friends and family know that you write erotic gay fiction?

Only some close friends know. I’m not in touch with my family anyway. Samer is my real name, but I changed my last name to Bo.

Have you had any negative reactions to the gay erotic fiction that you write?

I only tell people about my writing if I know that they’re either gay or gay friendly. So I haven’t had negative reactions in that respect.

However, I have had multiple incidents of homophobia. I was arrested once.

Son of the President isn’t an erotic story, how did that story come to you?

That story is based on the real-life story of an older friend that I met a few years ago. I told him about my erotic stories, and he asked me to write an erotic story inspired by his experiences.

However, I felt that if I wrote it as erotica, it would take away from the essence of the story. So I left it as non-erotic story.

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What do you hope that people feel when reading your stories?

First of all, aroused from my erotic stories. Plus, I want people to feel represented.

Gay Arabs are not represented in any kind of media. We’re being suppressed and discriminated against. A lot of gay men in the Middle East feel that being gay is wrong, and that homosexuality is a sin.

This is my small way to help those men feel better about themselves.

What are some of your goals and ambitions for the remainder of 2018?

More stories, maybe some non-erotic ones. I’m also helping a friend of mine to change his non-erotic short story into a play.

Read the novels by Samer Bo

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