If HBO's Looking had been set in Tel Aviv instead of San Francisco—and if the gay trio were Palestinian—it might have played like British-born director Jake Witzenfeld's empathetic documentary. Khader, 25, lives with his Armenian Jewish boyfriend, David, and claims that his Muslim family loves and accepts him, but later on, he admits that things are strained with his father. Fadi, 26, has no interest in dating Israeli Jews, but then he falls for Benjamin and worries that he's selling out everything he's ever believed in.
Naeem, 24, feels comfortable in his own skin, but he isn't ready to come out. When he tells his parents he finds their hometown suffocating, it's clear they have no idea what he's talking about. From the expression on his face, it looks like he was trying to tell them the truth, but they refuse to allow him an opening, so he finally works up the nerve and writes them a letter.
When the friends want to feel free, they travel to Jordan where they can escape the politics, judgment, and objectification of home (it's hard not to think of their female friend, Nagham, as the Lauren Weedman of the piece). Khader makes YouTube videos about their experiences, but these scenes represent the least interesting part of the film. Greater value lies in their words about day-to-day challenges.
After fighting all her life to hold on to her property, Khader's grandmother stopped talking to him when he moved to Israel, but he can make more of a difference by staying put. As he says with pride, "We are Palestine, we are queer, and we are here," but after a trip to Berlin, he questions whether second-class citizenship is really worth the trouble. There's no easy answer, and Witzenfeld doesn't pretend otherwise.
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