In a probing article, The Kingdom in the Closet, Nadya Labi investigates gay life in Saudi Arabia, exposing specific modern examples of an older view of sexuality nearly forgotten in the West. The conundrums of private/public, identity/acts, religious beliefs/personal truths are all present. It is such a different world from ours:

To be gay in Saudi Arabia is to live a contradiction—to have license without rights, and to enjoy broad tolerance without the most minimal acceptance.

The most fascinating observation is that a world of public control over public sexuality means much of Saudi Arabia’s sexual life is closeted for everyone, even as private behavior continues in timeless ways. Just as we view “primitive” people for insight into pre-modern lifestyles, the public sexuality constrictions of Saudi Arabia offers us insight into a world before liberalization and personal empowerment, providing views of what we gained and lost on our current trajectory.

Supplicating Pilgrim at Masjid Al Haram. Mecca, Saudi Arabia (Ali Mansuri)