Over the weekend, West Hollywood‘s Fiercest Diva was forced to perform out of drag in the United Arab Emirates.
Rhea Litré, fresh from an Australian tour with Willam (RuPaul’s Drag Race Season Four), was booked to perform her hit song “Let’s Have a KaiKai” at the grand opening of “Carnage,” Dubai’s newest party. Andrew Christian sponsored the party, one of the few LGBT-friendly events in town, and Carnage flew in Litré, Andrew Christian models, Jonathan Myers, Ryan Moore, and Jake Andrews.
Rhea Litré and her pals arrived without a hitch and were enjoying themselves right up until the performance when local security approached them to shut down the team. Instead of facing the consequences for performing in drag or stepping down and canceling the performance, Rhea Litré decided the show must go on. Rhea made the quick decision to untuck and perform out-of-drag.
Who would have known what would have happened if Rhea Litré performed in drag? Punishments for homosexual relations in the UAE range from jail time, deportation, to the death penalty.
Kai Kais can still happen in Dubai, they’ll just have to happen behind closed doors until further notice. If you’re traveling to Dubai, be careful, boys (and gurls).
Photo by Magnus Hastings
Didn’t Willam just have a gig in Dubai
WHY THE HELL are these queens taking gigs in a hateful country? I guess the money is too good…but still doesn’t make it right
@QJ201: I want to rush to judgment and simply say that they are selling out, but it is simply not that simple. Perhaps she took this gig because she felt that she could inspire people in a country where they were treated like violent criminals just because they were gay. I think what she did takes some severe courage, and if it helped just one person in that country then it was totally worth it.
Just because the country is not gay friendly does not mean it does not have gay people.
@tdx3fan: no dis, not easy to make a living doing drag and of course these performers can’t resist a good paycheck, but still…
I would not go to Dubai to work and I wouldn’t go there on vacation.
Boy in a dress
First of all, why would any self-respecting gay man go to the UAE in the first place? You’re just asking for trouble. I used to work for a company that did a lot of work in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and I refuse to go anywhere in the Middle East. That’s worse than Kansas or Texas! I certainly won’t be supporting any totalitarian governments that want to hang me in the town square anytime soon. They’ve seemed to manage quite well so far without any more of my money than I pay for gas. I know most Americans orgasm at the thought of that much money but, I don’t worship money and as far as I’m concerned, they never made it out of the 11th Century. I’ll stay home thank you.
@Victor_in_PA: There seems to be a some misunderstanding of what the United Arab Emirates is actually like. You seem to confuse it for its much larger neighbor in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia has correctly earned a reputation for holding public executions, although what is often ignored is that nowadays, these executions quite rare and far less public. Also ignored is how they are only doled out for a small, specific set of crimes, and take into consideration the desires of victims’ families. This is certainly not an ideal model for a justice system, but it is far less barbaric than is painted by many Americans. Nevertheless, this form of justice is completely absent in the UAE. In fact, many of the strict Islamic rules dictated by Sharia that Saudi Arabia applies does not fully translate across political borders in the Arabian peninsula.
To say that a place like Dubai or Abu Dhabi is stuck in the 11th century is really quite surprising if you consider exactly what the cities were like only sixty years ago. Just do a Google image search for Dubai in the1950s and you’ll see little more than a plain-jane fishing and pearl-diving village with no trace of industrialization. If modern Dubai is stuck in the 11th century, I wonder what century would the fishing village have been living in. And I, for one, am personally glad the Emirati leaders have chosen to allocate their oil wealth towards creating a more open society instead of instating religious schools across the globe – something Saudi Arabia has been doing for decades.
Prohibitions of homosexuality are primarily enforced against Emirati citizens and guest workers, not so much tourists. They would rather tolerate debaucherous behavior from wealthy visitors and get their money than humiliate them. Occasionally, authorities may be moved to act, such as if they felt tourists were encouraging locals to engage in unlawful behavior, or high-profile public events occurred to that effect. The Emiratis are certainly not concerned with the femme man who is buying designer clothing in the mall. Unless you are planning on flying around giant rainbow flags and handing out brochures to everybody, there’s very little reason to be afraid of traveling to places like Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
Please people, do not listen to this Victor idiot. Seriously. As a gay person, you are in serious danger in UAE. STRAIGHT unmarried people can be – and are – arrested if they have sex. Single women who are raped are charged and convicted for having sex outside marriage. Lesbians have been arrested and convicted for kissing on a beach.
The UAE is a conservative muslim country. You are a fool if you don’t know this. If you think I am exaggerating, how about you read the travel advisory below? On the other hand you can read this vacuous post above at your peril.
DO NOT GO THERE!!!
In case you are too lazy to read the above, I submit this quote of the above for your edification:
“Codes of behavior and dress in the UAE reflect the country’s Islamic traditions and are much more conservative than those of the United States. Visitors to the UAE should be respectful of this conservative heritage, especially in the Emirate of Sharjah where rules of decency and public conduct are strictly enforced. Public decency and morality laws throughout the UAE are much stricter than in the United States. Penalties for public displays of affection or immodesty can be severe. Travelers have been sentenced to lengthy jail terms for kissing in public. Homosexual activity is illegal in the UAE and is punished by imprisonment. LGBT travelers should review the LGBT Travel Information page. Sexual relations outside marriage and adultery are illegal in the UAE and convicted individuals have been punished by lengthy jail sentences. “
@JJinAus: If I remember correctly either last year or the year before a straight couple was arrested on the beach there making out. They were detained and finally deported under threat of imprisonment. I have no intentions of going to any country-or even state for that matter-that doesn’t welcome gays.
In January I went to Vegas for a convention. While I was there we went down to Hoover Dam and drove across the dam into Arizona. I turned around flip the bird and got out of the state.
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