2 min

John Greyson and Tarek Loubani are en route to Canada

Filmmaker's sexuality was shielded during imprisonment in Egypt

In our Aug 20 interview with Elle Flanders, she talks about how Greyson’s sexuality might put him in greater danger while detained in Egypt. His sexuality was not referred to in most media outlets.

Activist filmmaker John Greyson is on his way back to Toronto after being imprisoned in Cairo for 50 days. Greyson was detained with Dr Tarek Loubani on a stopover in Egypt, en route to Gaza.  

"It's over," reads a release from Greyson and Loubani. "At 9:40 a.m., Cairo local time, we took off from Cairo international airport on a flight back home." 

The two are expected to arrive in Toronto later this evening, Oct 11.

During their detention, media outlets were asked not to make reference to Greyson's sexuality. 

"There was kind of a tacit agreement with the media that they wouldn't talk about it because we didn't know what the situation was," says Stephen Andrews, Greyson's long-time partner. "And we understood that perhaps there may have been some homophobia that could have endangered John on the part of their captors or cell mates." 

Greyson and Andrews had discussed a plan of action they would follow if Greyson was detained.

"It was something we had talked about before they left for what we thought was going to be Gaza," Andrews says.

While Greyson was detained, Andrews felt as though he was being pushed back into the closet. In one Globe and Mail article, he was referred to as Greyson's "friend."

"It was very difficult," he says.  "There are issues that we fought long and hard for, for many years to overcome. But let's be real: we have to pick our battles. And the battle was to get John home, not to advocate for gay rights in Egypt." 

Andrews, who was the primary family contact for Canadian officials, knew that a search for information on Greyson's sexuality would be readily available on the internet but says, "We wanted to control page 1 of Google search."

"We were being careful," says Elle Flanders, who was involved in the organizing efforts to free Greyson and Loubani. "We were taking a page from the James Loney playbook. Jim was advising.  The main team was in constant contact with Jim."

Loney was kidnapped in Iraq in 2005 while doing work for the Christian Peacemakers organization. During his captivity, media did not mention the fact that Loney is gay and has a partner.     

Daily Xtra was also asked not to refer to Greyson's sexuality (although stories published immediately following his detainment did); however, no previously published articles about Greyson and his work were pulled from the website.

On one occasion, Flanders asked that part of a video interview she had given to Daily Xtra that referred to Greyson as gay not be used.  The clip is in the video above.

Stay tuned to Daily Xtra for more on this developing story.