This is how Thomas Edward Lawrence, renowned Arabist and British spy in the Arab Middle East, described a homosexual encounter between two Arab men. On another occasion he remarked

our youths began indifferently to slake one another’s few needs in their own clean bodies – a cold convenience that, by comparison, seemed sexless and even pure . . . friends quivering together in the yielding sand with intimate hot limbs in supreme embrace. (Lawrence 1935: 12)

In the second quote, Lawrence describes homosexual encounters between British soldiers. The contrast is striking: whereas the colonial subject practising homosexuality is portrayed as ‘unspiritual’,1 the colonizer is portrayed as ‘even pure’. His descriptions came at a time when homosexual encounters were not only frowned upon in Britain, but also perceived as acts punishable by law. A quick search on Lawrence and homosexuality today returns a myriad of results discussing and celebrating his support of homosexuality, and suggest that, at times, he himself was engaged in homosexual encounters.2 Those attempting to prove Lawrence’s homosexuality often cite his relationship to an Arab boy from northern Syria, Selim Ahmed, also known as Dahoum. However, what most accounts fail to mention is that when Lawrence met Dahoum in 1909, he was 12 years old, while Lawrence was in his twenties.