On behalf of the team at IANH, I’d like to extend a massive THANK YOU to each and every one of you who has supported/asked/contributed in anyway since our inception.
When we began we wanted to create somewhere where those who were struggling with piecing together their sexuality or gender identity and their Muslim-ness could come to talk to someone. We didn’t and still don’t profess to having the answers, or having figured it all out for ourselves. We can however empathise and share our journeys.
It’s certainly been humbling for me to work with a group of amazing people who I am proud to call family. I thank them for turning IANH into such an amazing ‘helpdesk’.
We have lots of plans that we’ll share with you as we near our 1 year anniversary in May. We want to get you all involved so keep your eyes peeled.
Back when I was more active on tumblr. I received several questions along the lines of “how can I reconcile my spirituality and sexuality?” I don’t think I answered a single one of them. At the time, I was still wrestling with my own issues of being queer, trans*, and Muslim, and I refused to offer platitudes in place of serious counsel. Alhamdulillah, many of the askers, to my knowledge, have found their own peace with the issues they raised. And, to a certain extent, so have I.
But I know that there are queer Muslims who are still struggling. Alhamdulillah there are now a few more blogs devoted to the issue. However, even they can take a hard line: saying that gender variance/homosexuality is halal. And that’s a totally understandable. In an environment so unwelcoming, taking extreme stances is sometimes necessary.
But not every queer Muslim is going to take those stances. Some are going to decide that Islam forbids homosexual/gender variant acts, even if they “engage” in it. And those people are going to need just as much help. Regardless of our beliefs or actions, queer Muslims — and those queer Muslims living in the West — will face the same hardships, navigate the same obstacles.
In that spirit, I’m offering this: a guide on life as a queer Muslim living in the West, a means of helping to reconcile your spirituality and sexuality. Regardless of whether you decide these things are haraam, or act on them and still decide they’re haraam. Or not. This list is assuredly not complete and I invite other queer Muslims to add to it as they see fit. For now, there’s the following:
1. Your faith must come first. Here’s the thing: if you’re queer, you will always be queer. Nothing you do in life is going to make you any more or any less queer than you are now. You can give up trying to cure it. And take comfort knowing that you’re queerness won’t fade if left untended.
Preserving one’s Islam is another matter. People walk away from their faith all the time, for a thousand different reasons. And if that’s what you decide to do, then so be it. But having both your sexuality and your spirituality means tending to the latter. And there is no reason not to have both. Your sexuality does not negate the Greatness of Allah, and it doesn’t make you incapable of doing good deeds.
2. You are not haraam. Notice I didn’t say homosexuality is not haraam. I said you. Islam defines good and evil in terms of actions. Regardless of your opinions, no person can be haraam. And yes, that sounds trivial, but it’s really easy to forget this. And re-assuring voices will be rare. In the end, you will have to tell this to yourself. You will have to believe it on your own. So start now. You are not haraam. You are not cursed. You are not evil. You are not diseased and unnatural. In fact…
3. Allah made you queer. Does that sound like a platitude? It’s not. Consider this: for many, queerness means hiding, secrecy, loneliness, and discrimination. At one point, you are going to hate being queer. And Allah made you queer. And, yes, you’ll hate Him for it.
So many people abandon their faith over that fact. You hear it in so many of the laments and diatribes against religion. Who would God be a hypocrite? Why make it a sin and then make me like this? Why give me this burden? Why? Well, I don’t know. I still struggle with it. But I know this: it’s something you’ll have to acknowledge. Not necessarily to the world, but at least to yourself, and to Allah. I have said many prayers consisting solely of the words “Fuck” and “You”.
What? Is that sacreligious? Well, you’re hurt, and you’re angry, and you’ll need someone to talk to. Why not the One you’re angry with? Why not express that anger and pain directly? No one is going to understand the depth of your struggle better than the one who made you, and made you queer. At least you’re still talking.
4. A lot of Muslims will disagree with all of the above. A lot of Muslims in your life are not going to make a distinction between being gay, and “acting on it.” A lot of Muslims will simply claim that queer = Hellfire. At best, at very best, they will make that distinction. But most won’t, and their attitudes won’t soften if they find out you are queer. They’ll simply direct those sentiments right at you.
And maybe it’s easy to deal with the fire breathing imam saying this. But what about the moderate: the one who seemed reasonable and objective? Or the imam who preaches tolerance, but falls silent when you get bullied? It’s not like you can complain about it. And what about when it’s family? Close family?
There’s no easy way to say it, but it’s true. Being queer and Muslim means isolation, or living in the closet, its own isolation. That’s why you must tend to your faith, that’s why you must keep your prayers. You will have almost no support in your day to day life. If you’re going to keep your Islam, it will come through sheer determination, and a deep, deep faith.
5. It’s up to you whether to agree with those Muslims. As a queer Muslim, you face two choices: whether “queer acts” are haraam, and whether to engage in them. A lot of people, Muslim and non-Muslim, will try to sway you one way or another (and not always in the way expected).
However, those decisions are ultimately yours. No matter what you’re pressured into publicly declaring, only you and Allah know your heart. You’re the one who has to live with the consequences, one way or another. It’s up to you to decide what you believe and how you act and why.
But know this: Deciding “queer acts” are a sin will not make you any less queer. For that matter, it won’t make you any less likely to engage in those “acts.” My advice: pray on it, & ask Allah for guidance.
And note: only you can decide whether or not you are Muslim. And if you believe in Allah and the Prophet (P), you are Muslim. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise, tell them to go fuck themselves.
6. The concept of “acting on it” is tricky. If you’ve noticed, I’ve been putting the phrase “queer acts” in quotations. Here’s why: sexual orientation and gender identity might be modern concepts, but they describe the innate way we relate to the world around us. Queer acts are just part of living life: falling in love, making friendships, finding your place in the world.
These decisions aren’t academic exercises for you. The things you decide are halaal or haraam are some of the most common aspects of life. Not that it can’t, or shouldn’t, be done. Lots of Muslims impose heavy restrictions on their day-to-day lives for the sake of the Hereafter. However, your life will either involve queer acts, or the constant denial of them. One way or another, your queerness will be with you for the rest of your life.
Not that that’s a bad thing. I’ve personally come to believe that queerness is a blessing bestowed by Allah on a few, a select few. We are truly unique; our lives give us insights in to the world around us. Your struggles and tribulations can grant you with a profound empathy, and a commitment to both Allah and your fellow human beings. Or it can crush you. Most likely, it will be a mixture of both. That’s just part of the human condition. Life seems a perpetual balancing act between brokenness and transcendence. As always, Allah will be there for you, if you’re mindful. Pray.
7. A lot of people will try to use you. This is a sad fact of being queer and Muslim. There’s a lot of capital, especially in the West (but not always), in using queer/Muslim experiences to further this or that societal narrative, and anyone at the intersection is particularly vulnerable. A lot of people will try to exploit your identity for their own ends. And none of them are going to be upfront about it. It’s going to be up to you to navigate who genuinely wishes to help you, and who isn’t.
I can’t stress how important it will be to ask Allah for guidance. Continually ask, because you’ll continually need to. But know this: as a Muslim, you are obligated to Allah alone. Don’t let anyone or anything get in the way of that.
8. Never read the comments. Trust me.
This is fantastic! Thanks for sharing :)
Any of our followers in Indonesia, check it out!