According to Vice Magazine, Khalid Abdel-Hadi, an openly gay Muslim man who started the magazine, My.Kali, when he struggled to find representations of himself and his friends in a part of the world that is still unaccepting of his identity and community.
This was not Abdel-Hadi’s original intended route into the magazine world, but when he was not accepted by existing publications, he was left with no choice but to start his own. The first cover of My.Kali featured Khalid himself. The photograph, which was the magazine’s founder “posed shirtless next to the headline ‘Alert Miss-Attitude,'” was hugely criticized by the media. The image was “blurred” or “blacked out,” and had such wide media covered that it distracted the public from at-the-time politics and an election.
Abdel-Hadi prides himself on giving an outlet and a mirror to those, like him, who previously did not have one. Since the launch of My.Kali, several other LGBTQ publications have followed suit: “Mawaleh in Syria, Ehna in Egypt, Gayday in Tunisia, Aswat in Morocco, and Barra in Lebanon.” However, those publications were subsequently shut down following their launch via either the government or fear on the behalf of the magazines’ founders. However, the fact that the publications had the space or encouragement to launch, given to them by My.Kali, is a sign that, while slow, the Middle East is moving forward.
So how is My.Kali still up and running? It is an ongoing battle, but in 2016 the magazine worked with Access Now to relaunch their website under harder-to-shut-down guidelines following a set-back when the publication put out their first dual-language (English and Arabic) issue.
While the United States is wildly more progressive, having LGBTQ publications like The Advocate, biMagazine, and XY, My.Kali remains the only source of LGBTQ material in Jordan. It is hopeful, though, that while the United States has ample LGBTQ publications today, the industry did not begin without its slew of challenges. Because of the trials and errors and blatant marginalization, violence, and silencing faced by Abdel-Hadi’s peers, he knows he must continue the battle and often tumultuous road to acceptance. He plans to do that by expanding the magazine’s content, via “explor[ing] music, art, fashion, and politics in depth and with a broader reach.” It is his hope, through this broadening of content, to expand the magazine’s influence beyond Jordan, creating an inclusive and all-encompassing representation of the LGBTQ community.