Egyptian women dressed in men in the first half of the 20th century. Dr. Lucie Ryzova

How Cross-dressing in Egypt Rekindled Heterosexual Attraction

When diva Umm Kulthum dressed as a boy in early performances and anonymous middle-class women did the same at home, they exposed the queer roots of straight love in the Land of the Nile.

The 1994 novel “Umm” by Lebanese journalist Selim Nassib, inspired by the relationship between legendary Egyptian diva Umm Kulthum and poet Ahmed Rami, opens with a surprising event that took place in 1924. A...

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