My email to my friend Eli in Amsterdam contained only one word: "WTF????"
He had just told me that he was taking a job in Oman.
That's right, Oman, the sultanate just south of Saudi Arabia, on the Indian Ocean.
I called. "But...but...but it's the Arabian Peninsula! I wouldn't set foot in any country where being gay brings the death penalty."
"No, that is Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In Oman the penalty is only three years in prison."
"Only three years in prison?"
"Most of the states in the U.S. had worse penalties. Besides, it is only if you are discovered."
"But...you live in Amsterdam, where everything is open. Gay life in Oman must be incredibly closeted. No bars, no bathhouses, no organizations."
"They have Grindr. And it is a very good job, and it will last only one year."
Eli's Dispatches from Oman (modified slightly for grammar).
"You were thinking mud streets and minarets, yes? Oman is modern! The Food Court in the Muscat Grand Mall has Charley's Grilled Subs, Curry in a Hurry, Hungry Bunny, KFC, Papa John's, Mr. Pretzels, and Wok and Roll."
"Half the people here are guest workers from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Last night I met a very cute boy from Bangladesh on Grindr. He never met a black guy before.
The full story, with nude photos and sexual content, is on Tales of West Hollywood