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Marwan Kaabour

Marwan Kaabour / Not Gay as in Happy but Queer as in Free Palestine, 2021. Written by Ché Zara Blomfeld.

A black and white artwork card with the text 'Marwan Kaabour - Not Gay as in Happy but Queer as in Free Palestine, 2021' and 'Artwork' on it.

Not Gay as in Happy but Queer as in Free Palestine is a statement that first appeared on placards in Palestinian queer solidarity marches around the globe, and later visualised by artist and designer Marwan Kaabour during Pride Month in 2021.

The design is a creative wordplay, at once championing gay and queer identities, while reminding of alternative readings of queer that signify the other, the unconventional or nonconformist – ideologies that resonate with the struggle for a Free Palestine.

The sentiment also stands in bold defiance of Pinkwashing, the weaponization of supposed comparable progressiveness for LGBTQIA+ rights, especially in arguments made as a distraction from settler colonial violence. In this case the proclamation is in direct confrontation to common prejudices which, for example, conflate Islam with homophobic violence.

A poster with bold, white, capital letters reading "Not as gay as in happy but queer as in free Palestine." The background is an abstract blend of dark pink and purple colors. Artwork by Marwan Kaabour.
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Marwan Kaabour is a graphic designer, artist and writer. His interdisciplinary practice builds pathways between communication and publication design, curation, pedagogy and political activism. Alongside his independent projects, he works with non-profit institutions, companies and individuals in arts and culture sectors. In 2019, Marwan founded Takweer, an online platform and expanding archive of queer narratives in Arab history and popular culture. His debut book, The Queer Arab Glossary, was published in June 2024.Marwan moved from his hometown Beirut to London in 2011 to pursue a master's degree in Graphic Design from the London College of Communication, before joining renowned design agency Barnbrook. After more than six years of diverse experience with Barnbrook, first as Designer and later as Senior Designer, he founded his own studio in 2020.His commissioned design work spans visual identities, publication and exhibition design, marketing campaigns, wayfinding systems and art direction, among others. He has worked with leading cultural institutions, including the V&A Museum, Phaidon, Art Basel, The National Gallery, Thames & Hudson, Serpentine Galleries, Hayward Gallery, Zaha Hadid Foundation and The Mosaic Rooms. He designed the Rihanna book, which was named as one of Time magazine's best photo books of 2019.
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