Failing to repay your loans isn’t the only way foreigners can be imprisoned in Dubai: “The Gay” is also illegal there. Which explains why a Dubai customs agent confiscated a copy of BUTT, the raunchy and irreverent gay porn-ish magazine. It doesn’t, however, explain why that agent kept the mag for himself.
World traveler Brendan Fernandes submitted this tale to the magazine:
I was flying from Toronto to South Africa for a family holiday and research trip (family holiday first and research trip second). Our flight to Johannesburg had a stopover in Dubai as we were flying Emirates. The food and service was great and even though we were in economy the seating seemed more spacious. Anyway, after our 14 hour flight we were excited to debark the plane and have a night stay in a Dubai hotel before continuing on our journey to ZA. We obviously had to pass through customs as we were entering and staying in the city for the night.
[...] As we were walking out, a man in a white middle eastern outfit walked towards me and began to question me. I quickly realized he was another customs agent. The seemingly “friendly” agent who stamped my passport had indicated to him that I need to be stopped. He confronted me and wanted to go through my bags for a “random” check. My family walked with me initially but the agent sent them away and took me into a side room. In the room he asked me to open my bags, I began to get nervous. I had many camera cables and wires with me and I thought that he might think I was up to deviant things with them. These things did not bother him. He proceeded to put on gloves and began to rummage through my stuff. This is obviously when he found my summer issue of BUTT. The pink pages just stood out in my red backpack. I alway did love the color combination of red and pink! In that moment I was like ‘Holy fuck, I am done for’.
He began to first flip through the mag (his eyes were definitely intrigued), and then he closed it and asked me ‘What is this?’. I responded that it was a magazine about gay arts and culture, but he said nothing. The whole time his face had no real expression (I believe he was in pure bliss on the inside). He then proceed to ask what I was doing in Dubai, what I did for a living, and how much money I made. I told him I made art and he just glared at me for a moment, and then said ‘like painting?’, I responded ‘no, like installation’ (I normally work in video, but I did not want to utter the word in fear he would assume I made porn; not that there is anything wrong with that, but in this situation I did not want any more problems). He still was clenching my BUTT and the questioning continued. I was beginning to totally freak.
I thought that I was never going to see the day of light again and then abruptly he said, ‘Take your stuff’. As he said that he walked away with my BUTT. He never said I am taking it, he just took it (I knew he was paying more attention to the mag than me, and just being a bully in his machismo way to fuck me up). I quickly packed my bags, which were initially packed so precisely, but I was thankful just to get out, I could never survive jail time! I really think he is somewhere right now in Dubai reading my copy of BUTT. So there you have it, the Dubai lockdown. I left BUTT-less but I guess my butt was saved as well.