Articles // By alQaws // A Word From Haneen Maikey: A Twenty Year Journey - Gratitude & Acknowledgements

A Word From Haneen Maikey: A Twenty Year Journey - Gratitude & Acknowledgements

This was originally published in our 2020 annual report. Find it here.

A Word From Haneen Maikey

A Twenty Year Journey: Gratitude & Acknowledgements

I write this letter a few weeks after my departure as the Executive Director of alQaws. As my body replaces adrenaline with exhaustion, my heart is filled with deep gratitude for alQaws’ activists, team, and Board of Directors, for the endless opportunities and lessons they’ve offered me until the very last moment. alQaws is where I learned what I know about myself, my community, and Palestine. No matter how hard I try, I won’t be able to do my experience with alQaws justice. How can one reduce twenty years of friendships and activism to a few lines? 

At alQaws, I didn’t aspire to find a career path, express my ambitions, or build my future. In fact, alQaws wasn't a clear-cut project in its first decade. It was, first and forever, a gathering place for people experiencing sexual diversity, which has turned into grassroots networks of activists all over Palestine. Our stories and pain were the main inspiration for us to persist in alQaws’ journey. Our mistakes were a cornerstone in building our movement. The external challenges and conflicts were endless, but the main struggle was facing remnants of repression within us.

It is also difficult to limit this experience to its present only. alQaws has become an organization with a legacy that cannot be ignored. Yet, like the broader queer movement in Palestine, it has reckoned with many eras over the past two decades and was built by hundreds of activists who continue their struggle to this day, along with many others whom history has veiled. This is my opportunity to extend my deepest gratitude to all the early activists and founders of alQaws: you are the beginnings of the movement. Your stories remain an integral part of this journey and are forever in my heart.

From past to present, I send lots of love to the activists, who have been the backbone of alQaws in recent years. Be it on the frontline confronting Palestinian Authority police prosecutions and arrests, or on alKhat (alQaws’ national hotline) comforting LGBT and queer people who have faced societal violence, or on the streets with dances and tears at the “Rallying Cry for Queer Liberation” to demand that our families, friends, and colleagues stand against the violence inflicted upon us. Thank you for your courage and for your trust, both in alQaws and in one another, as you take each step towards desired change. The road ahead is long and arduous, but today the responsibilities are also greater. We are no longer a marginalized group or a small institution, but a movement of great strength, influence, and credibility.

As for friends and allies, I offer my heartfelt thanks for all the consultations, advice, and enlightenment exchanged on our shared path. alQaws wouldn’t be complete without discussions and dialogues within our society, in all of its sectors. Our conversations weren’t fleeting or shallow, and they certainly weren’t easy. They were complex and filled with challenges and feelings—that’s where their merit lies. Our pursuit of real and deep conversation has benefited not only alQaws and queer people but all of us in society.

I send my warm wishes to the team and board of alQaws in your new journey. Our joint and intensified work was not without its challenges and difficulties. Still, I am grateful for the rare opportunity to work with such beautiful and hardworking people, who live the organization in all its details and do not tire of learning or laboring. I learned a lot from you, and I am enthusiastic to follow your activism as it ascends to new heights.

As for Haneen Sader, a friend first and new Executive Director second, I wish you success upon this new journey. Your unique voice and fingerprint have long been present in your activism; your passion for the Palestinian queer movement did not start today. alQaws is fortunate to have you. You’re fortunate to be organizing with the leadership of activists and teams who have dedicated their lives to ending all violence, be it societal or colonial.