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“But say you’ll never close your eyes
Or pretend that it’s a rosy world
Say you’ll never try to paint
What is rotten with a sugarcoat
Say you’ll talk about the horrors you’ve seen
And the torment you know
And tell it like it is” – Tracy Chapman “Tell It Like It Is”
I started writing this more times than I care to admit.
I know most readers will dismiss it outright; attempt to chastise me in the Comments section for saying anything at all. This was originally addressed to every Muslim who follows this website, because I am desperate to understand why our community–one that joins forces to raise money for Syrian relief, capable of assembling hundreds for a Janaza, strong enough to speak about surviving genocide and refugee camps–cannot admit, even after last weekend’s tragedy, that the majority of American-Muslims treat LGBTQI Muslims and non-Muslims alike with no love, no dignity, and no respect as fellow human beings.
In the end, there is no point in asking why, because it’s obvious most simply do not care, do not understand, and have no will or want to change. The majority don’t have gay friends or family members, most come from countries where being gay is heavily stigmatized, ridiculed or punishable by death, or they grew up in environments where it was normal to hear people declare they would disown their children if they had a same-sex orientation. I’ve heard all the conversations, read the Facebook updates of the “thoughts and prayers” Muslims. Who Tweet condolences and sign letters of sympathy, but never actively do anything to change the collective behavior and mindset of families, masjids, and Islamic schools. None brave enough to ever publicly declare: “Our mosques are open to everyone of an LGBTQI orientation. You are safe here. We will stand with you proudly.”
The word “solidarity” means nothing if you choose to only stand in solidarity with someone when the cameras are on. A good many reading this don’t see the irony in a religious community asking for support and understanding during times of trouble when you have none to give. So instead I choose to direct my writing only to some. To the ones who currently need it, deserve it, and will hopefully wrap my sincere words around their hearts like protective armor.
For the man at my local mosque, who has never, all the years he’s attended, ever been asked to lead prayers or recite because he’s openly gay. Who continues to pray in congregation with a smile, wishing the men “Salaam brothers!” May I learn to carry myself always with such dignity and grace.
For the woman who took me under her wing when I converted. Who lectures at Islamic events and supports the rights of the LGBTQI community, but is forbidden to speak publicly about it due to threats of Muslim organizations withdrawing donations to her charities: May I someday grow to be the woman and mother you are, and know that I honor your selflessness in supporting people who don’t always support you.
For the LGBTQI Muslims overseas who are still in the closet for their own safety, and those Muslims in the United States forced into silence about their sexuality in order to maintain the love of parents, family and friends who cannot shake religious literalism: You are all braver and stronger than you will ever know. I pray that one day you will feel safe enough to live your whole truth, surrounded by people filled with unconditional love for you.
For all LGBTQI Muslim converts, and those converts with gay family and friends: May you continue to find joy, peace, and celebration in your version of a Higher Power, and stand proud and open with love and kindness for your friends, family and allies, both religious and non-religious.
For the sons, daughters, mothers and fathers born into traditional Islamic households who have been harassed, intimidated and ostracized for openly supporting the rights of LGBTQI Muslims, and those who support their child’s same-sex relationship: May you continue to stay brave in the face of adversity as you stand as a living representation that ideas can change, and love is universal in any language, country, or culture.
For the clergy of other religions, including those nuns, priests, rabbis, cantors, and ministers who have chosen to publicly embrace and accept their LGBTQI congregants and allies in faith: May you continue to showcase your fearless love of others in the face of bigotry and hate, and be a beacon of light and leadership to those religious communities still struggling in apathetic silence.
And finally for my mother, the person who has always supported me and continues to support me fully in my life choices; a woman filled with quiet dignity and who lives true to her own soul. No matter the hate-filled comments by strangers, Muslims, family, attacks through social media, she steadfastly continues to declare: “I will never allow myself to give in to hate. I will never let hatred win in my heart.”
I love you.
And I love you.
And I love you.