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Arabian Nights is orchestrated by AL-GAMEA, a group formed in 2004 by three gay Arab men dedicated to creating a forum for support, socialization, education and awareness, in an area that's home to the largest and most visible Arab-American community in the country.

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A sparkling rhinestone charm dangles and winks from her pierced navel as she works the room.

There's frolic and celebration in the air tonight, but the levity belies the challenges and difficult choices many of these people must face on a daily basis.

"Eventually we'd like to be a nonprofit with a board of directors, to be able to have more events and offer financial and medical assistance," Sebastian adds.

The group recently launched its own Web site, algamea.com, which includes forums and news bulletins.

In November last year, the Associated Press reported a raid on a gay wedding in the United Arab Emirates, and that the two dozen men arrested faced a sentence of forced hormone treatments (the Interior Ministry later denied considering such a sentence after an international protest ensued).

Just weeks ago, the UN confirmed that gay Iraqis are being targeted for kidnapping and murder by Shi'ite death squads in response to a death-to-gays fatwa issued by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. His eyes are constantly roaming the Male Box, and he can't sit still for more than a moment.

(Last week it was hacked, the content temporarily replaced with the words "I hope you fucking die.") The site's recent unveiling was a critical step for the group — like so many marginalized and secretive communities, gay Arabs found solace on the Internet, which allows them to interact, meet and converse while still retaining the crucial element of anonymity.

One of the most popular sites is gayarab.com, which was started by GLAS, the Gay and Lesbian Arabic Society.

While the situation is less grim for Arab-Americans in this country, they still face personal, religious and familial hardships for their sexual orientation — much like those tackled by the first wave of the gay rights movement in the '70s. Nick was kicked out of the house after informing his parents he was gay.

With no stable job and nowhere to go, he had to lie to Mom and Dad — assuring them his homosexuality was "a phase" — in order to come back home. He says being openly gay is one of the "hardest things you can do as an Arab. Arabs don't understand that it's not a choice; they say, 'America made you that way.'" "The Arabic community in Dearborn does not respect gay life," says Andy, 25, who was born in Lebanon and moved to the United States with his family when he was 5. "I was born like this and it's nothing to be ashamed of." These stories are far too common, and they're why Ramazzotti, Makhay and Sebastian decided to start AL-GAMEA (which means "the gathering").

While the site's main page is dedicated mostly to news articles, which are not necessarily on point with being either gay or Arab, there's a lighter side called "The Queer Arabs Blog: Rantings of Angry Sarcastic Bitchy Queer Arab Americans." (One post pointed out the eerie resemblance between New Zealand drag queen comic Dame Edna and female Syrian vice president Najah al-Attar.) There's also a personals section.