As much as I feel a sense of responsibility to speak up as a queer Muslim, I am less clear about how to go about my choice of words. Especially because my primary intention in this post is to address my fellow Muslims who are speaking about homosexuality and other forms of queerness who, I believe, are representative of the on-going un-mosque-ing of queer Muslims and the perpetuation of stigma around queer identities in Muslim communities.
I want my words to not only be spoken but also to be heard and understood. I want a language that you, my reader and sibling in Islam, will immediately understand. Something that allows, in some miraculous and perhaps even spiritual way, another Muslim human to understand exactly what is in my heart and mind.
Queer Catholic poet, Pádraig Ó’Tuama expresses it perfectly when, in a chance encounter with a sister in faith who asks “I heard you are gay now. Are you still a Christian?” to which Pádraig thinks to himself: “oh how shall we tell this story?”
The concerned whispers in the mosque about a convert who now says he’s gay. How his gayness is a deviance from what Allah intended for him. Voices like eating donkey flesh, praying that he will see the error of his ways and repent, make tawbah, that is, return to the straight path.
And here I am, angry at words I hear and others I do not. And my own whispering–no, loud angry voices–yelling in my heart, adding up like so many black specks of sin, harboring anger that keeps me from forgiving them. Maybe they, who used to call me brother, akhi, will repent and love me again?
How shall we tell this story indeed. Where to begin? Where to end? And what ought to be said in between?
Maybe I ought to start where it hurts the most.