BY Alexandra Sandels
Lebanon's online lesbian magazine Bekhsoos is back after a nearly one-year hiatus for almost one year.
The publication, whose Arabic name loosely translates as "Concerning," was launched as a quarterly magazine in early 2008 by members of the Lebanese lesbian group Meem and was billed as the Arab world's first publication for lesbian and bisexual women.
Back then, Bekhsoos published a mixture of news about sexual identity in the Arab world.
Now it plans to feature more investigative reports with the objective of filling "the gap of lesbian- and transgender-produced writing in the Arab world."
A breaking news service is reportedly also in the pipeline for the magazine, which is run by a group of volunteers.
"There is much mystery that surrounds the Arab queer identity," reads a part of Bekhsoos' new mission statement. "We’re here to peak our minds and tell our stories. We must write volumes to make up for our invisibility and for the history that has forgotten us."
Contributors from around the region are encouraged to submit pitches to the magazine's editorial team. Submissions come in the form of opinion pieces, poetry and personal stories.
Previous features published in Bekhsoos last year included an article on how homosexuality in Lebanon is covered by the Lebanese mass media and a personal account from a writer airing her thoughts on her homosexuality and religious faith.
Homosexuality is more accepted in Lebanon than in most Arab countries, although it's technically illegal and punishable under Lebanese law.
But a number of Beirut-based groups provide support and protection services for Lebanese gays and lesbians, including Helem and Meem.
Earlier this year, a coalition of activist groups staged a sit-in in central Beirut against violence and discrimination against homosexuals following a purported gay bashing in East Beirut in which two men allegedly having sex on the ground floor of a residential building were dragged out onto a nearby square and beaten.
The sit-in was the first of its kind in the region and attracted nearly 200 participants.
The relaunch of Bekhsoos follows Meem's recent publication of the book "Bareed Mista3jil," which describes the stories of more than 40 Lebanese lesbian and bisexual women.