Mashrou' Leila's gay frontman confronts homophobia in Lebanon

Hamed Sinno, frontman of Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila, on being openly gay in his lyrics and misconceptions about the Middle East.

Lebanese alternative rock band Mashrou' Leila uses their music to satirize homophobic attitudes in the Middle East, with a vocalist said to rock "a Freddie Mercury edge."

The band's lead singer, Hamed Sinno, joins Shad during the band's first North American tour. He reflects on homosexuality in his homeland, Western misconceptions of life in the Middle-East, and why it's so hard to make groundbreaking indie music in Lebanon.

Mashrou' Leila's Hamed Sinno says the indie scene in Lebanon is underdeveloped, but not for lack of diversity or talent. (Hamed Sinno)
The BBC has said Mashrou' Leila is "tearing up the conventions of Arabic pop music" with their sound and politically-charged lyrics. (Mashrou' Leila)

WEB EXTRA | Lil Watan, from Mashrou' Leila's latest album Raasϋk, is a song that "discusses the way we are taught to acquiesce to the status quo, and the apathy we are rewarded for in Lebanese politics" — as the band writes on their YouTube channel. "Every time you demand change, they make you despair until you sell out all your freedom. They tell you to stop preaching and come dance with them."