Best. Lesbian. Week. Ever. (January 11, 2008)


This past Tuesday, the classic lesbian sports movie Personal Best finally arrived on DVD.

The 1982 drama stars Mariel Hemingway in her dykonic role as Olympic track and field athlete Chris Cahill, who becomes friends (and more!) with fellow athlete Tory Skinner, played by Patrice Donnelly.

The film was groundbreaking because it was one of the first gay and lesbian films with a relatively positive picture of same-sex attraction. And it became such a well-known lesbian film that even Ellen DeGeneres referenced it as an inside joke in her coming-out episode of Ellen.

If you haven’t already watched the movie, what are you waiting for? Who doesn’t love a sporty lesbian in really short shorts?

The View may be annoying ill-informed, but at least its hostesses don’t think lesbianism is immoral and sinful — something that cannot be said for several Islamic scholars in Egypt, reacting this week to the fiilm Heena Maysara (Until Further Notice), which includes a lesbian relationship.

Al Arabiya reported (thanks, GetReal, for the tip) that Cairo University professor Dr. Abdel-Sabour Shahin (who was supported by other Islamic scholars at Al-Azhar University) "claimed the movie is part of ‘a Zionist and American conspiracy’ which uses this sort of movie to destroy the moral fabric of society."

In the movie, actress Ghada Abdel-Razeq‘s character, a lesbian, tries to seduce Sumaya Al-Khashab’s character. In addition to including this lesbian seduction scene, the film "is set in a Cairo shanty town and tackles the issues of poverty, crime and physical and sexual abuse." (Seems to me that lesbianism is the least of the "problems" presented in the movie!)

Even worse? A professor of Islamic law, Elwi Amin, claimed that there is no lesbianism at all in Egypt. "Many people in Egypt do not even know what the word ‘lesbianism’ means," he said. "This is the influence of immoral Western culture which controls the media."

Uh, right. That old "gay agenda" specter again?

Actress Sumaya Al-Khashab did respond courageously by saying, "Whoever watches the movie will realize that this scene was important to the story line and is not included just to be sensational." The director, Khaled Yousef, asked people to watch the movie before they passed judgement.

The positive angle to this story is that now, at least, there is one movie available in Egypt that includes lesbian characters. Only 23.6 more tragic lesbian films to go (according to top-secret calculations) before Egyptian lesbians get a happy ending!

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