Mr. Gay Syria

Mr. Gay Syria

Monday, May 7, 2018 - 8:15pm
Thursday, May 10, 2018 - 12:00pm
Community Partner(s)
Ayse Toprak | 
France/Germany/Turkey |
 2017 | 
87 minutes


Mr. Gay Syria (PG)

Twenty-four-year old Husein lives in exile. Along with his parents, wife, and young daughter, he was forced from his home in Syria to Istanbul, where he awaits possible asylum in Europe. But Husein’s is a double exile—estranged from his country by war, he is also estranged from his family because of who he is. Husein is gay. Unable to tell his family, he is forced to live a double life—finding another kind of refuge in the small but tight-knit gay community of Syrian refugees in Turkey. For Husein and his friends, the Gay World competition represents an opportunity to make visible their uniquely difficult situation. Having escaped war, they now face discrimination and repression from an increasingly intolerant Turkish regime. Berlin-based competition organizer Mahmoud Hassino devises the competition as a means to raise awareness about the plight of LGBTQ refugees. But for Husein, the visibility that comes from being named Mr. Gay Syria will mean revealing his true self to his family.

Director Ayse Toprak weaves together an intimate portrait of Husein’s life—delicately detailing his painful relationship with his family while showing the strength in community, and the powerful sense of belonging that is offered by Husein and his fabulous friends. In achieving this fine balance, Toprak reminds us that even in war, the freedom to live and love as we truly are remains fundamental to our humanity. -JC


Ayse Toprak

Ayse Toprak is a filmmaker based in Istanbul. She received a BFA in Film &TV from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, and an MA from the New School. Her work experience includes Channel Thirteen/PBS in New York, and producing for Al Jazeera in London, Doha and Istanbul. She is fascinated by people who are pushed to the peripheries of society who have personal, vivid, compelling stories to tell. Her conviction in filmmaking comes from her wish to tell the stories of such people who she feels have different ways of looking at the world, each unique in their own ways.

Rated Y Panelist

Osmel Guerra Maynes

Osmel Guerra Maynes (he/him/his) is a social justice activist who was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in the twin island state of Antigua and Barbuda. Osmel identifies as an Afro Latino cisgender queer man. Osmel immigrated to Canada as an international student in 2003 to pursue a Political Science Degree at Carleton University and worked to ensure access to education for marginalized communities through various student roles. Osmel has called Canada home for 10+ years.