Nick Baitoo

Our Stories: “Don’t Touch My Name”

The following is the first in a series of posts called Our Stories which highlight the rich tapestry of diverse experiences held by our incredible community: Queer and Trans Middle Eastern and/or North African individuals living in and around New York City.

Don’t Touch My Name

By: Ibrahim Khazzaka

Born in Lebanon, I was named after my grandfather.  Everyone in the Middle East understands the name homage, the name tribute to the patriarch.

In a way, we are expected to identify with our grandparents, to seek their strengths and equal their achievements.

I love my grandfather, he’s growing older to become a sterner man than how I remember him.  Still he did travel, met most of his career and social prestige goals. Carrying his name is heavy; everyone wanted me to be like him.  Yet, no one, not even he, showed me a way. Sometimes I was asked to round up my school grades to impress him, to be worthy of his blessing.

In Lebanon, “Ibrahim” was among the old names that people let go of for more trendy ones.  I remember at 13, a barber advised me to go for my nickname, Bob! Ibrahims in Lebanon are named “Bob” (don’t ask) to which I mocked him, saying “I’m keeping it as it is, it’s a beautiful name.”

Tarab NYC Haflaween Monday, Community Dinner, Hishik Bishik, & More!

Queer Haflaween is coming back… AHHH YA WAILY!!!

Join Tarab NYC for our second annual Halloween party at Henrietta Hudson on Monday October 29 at 7:00 PM. Happy hour until 9:00 PM. Put on your fabulous costume and come have a blast at our Middle Eastern/North African Halloween party. There will be music, drinks, dance and laughs. There will also be prizes for best costumes, Game on! Want to volunteer? Email – we have some incentives for volunteers too! Advance tickets are $10 for members – $15 for non-members – $20 for everyone at the door – save some $$$ and get your tickets now!
Click for more information!

Hishik Bishik Was a Success


Over 100 of you joined us on October 8th for Hishik Bishik – A Middle Eastern and North African Drag Revue! Special thanks to Farfasha, Maramia, Dorian Gaye, Camilla al Atshana, & Gul Nessa! We hope to have another allstar Drag Revue in December – more details to follow.
Find More Pictures on Facebook!

Welcome Mirna to the Tarab NYC Board!

Mirna joins us after a long journey of intersectional LGBTQ work in Lebanon, Michigan, as well as nationally with MASGD (The Muslim Alliance of Gender and Sexual Diversity). Mirna is a mama of twins and a student at CUNY Law. Mirna loves to have conversations around imagining a world with no incarceration, no borders, and healthy accountability forums without disposability. Contact Mirna

Community Support Group – November 14th

Join us for a peer support group for our community members to process experiences in a safe space. Group discussion can foster support and develop ways of coping with struggles afflicting our community. This group will be facilitated by Wardeh Hattab, LCSW and Nick Baitoo, LMSW. Please register here by Tuesday, November 13 to secure a place in the group as there is limited space. Register to join the Community Support Group

Save the Date! Community Dinner on Tuesday, November 13, at 7pm

We are hosting a Community Dinner on Tuesday, November 13, at 7pm.  There will be food (on us!), as well as opportunities to interact with fellow community members and help us plan our next year’s events!  Stay tuned for updates!

Member Stories – Now Collecting

Tarab NYC is still collecting the stories, experiences, and narratives of our incredible Queer MENA community. We plan to share these stories on our website so that community members and others can learn about our experiences on our terms. Follow the link to find out how to submit your ideas!

Other Stuff

From time to time, Tarab NYC is asked by third parties to share notices with the community. As a volunteer run organization we are unable to completely vet if these individuals and organizations are in full alignment with our mission and values. However, we thought you may find them interesting and are including them below.

Mark for Redaction is a group exhibition from October 11 until November 11, envisioned by former flux resident Razan Al-Salah and curated by Hilal Khalil, this exhibition showcases multi-disciplinary forms of contemporary art from self-identified Kweer (queer), lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and/or gender non-conforming people who have ties to what is colloquially known al-‘ālam al-‘arabī (South West Asia and North Africa (SWANA)) and the respective diaspora. Mark for Redaction seeks to build community and provide a safe(r) space for artists to discuss and unpack the many layers of identity by displaying personal works of art that challenges notions of visibility, “Kweerness”, and “coming out” in relation to the colonialist concepts of the “Orient” and the “Occident”. Set in a reimagined apartment that mirrors the private apartments and studios of “Kweer” artists, Mark for Redaction presents installations, performances, workshops, screenings, and discussions.See the Full Calendar of Events