Use a “Muslim Woman”: Reasserting Dutch Values 101

A few weeks ago, I went to a small, local cinema in my city to catch a film. I’ve always liked going to this particular cinema because they screen international and independent films – a fresh change from the standard Hollywood fare at the bigger cinema.The film was about to start, so I quickly ducked into the ladies’. After I washed my hands, imagine my shock at seeing the following poster pasted behind the door:The text on the poster says (in Dutch): “This woman is a symbol for all … [Read more...]

Pride Parades, Hijabs and Muslim Lesbians

Last Saturday, the city where I live in Western Canada held its annual Pride Parade.This year and against all odds, the first member of my mosque participated in the parade. Sister Sarah (a pseudonym) decided to participate in the parade after years of struggling with reconciling her faith with her sexuality. She decided “to try to blend in” with the rest of the men and women dressed in colourful outfits by wearing a bright yellow hijab tied at the back instead of the front because, desp … [Read more...]

Gay Muslims: Fighting the Oxymoron

In 2007, when Iranian president Ahmadinejad declared that ‘we don’t have any gays in Iran’, he was met with widespread media criticism. Yet, much of the world seemed content to believe in the crux of what he was saying: that according to conventional wisdom, there is no space for homosexuality in Islam.As the West’s issues with homophobia have been publicly examined and challenged by a gay rights movement, gay people in the Muslim world have not had the same spotlight on them. LGBTQ+ movemen … [Read more...]

Not There Yet: Inclusion, Acceptance and Support for LGBTQ Muslims

Discussions on LGBTQ inclusion in Muslim communities are one of those things that make my blood boil because in my community, as in some others, Muslims who support same-sex unions and condemn homophobia tend to be disregarded. For many Muslims, the recognition of Muslims who may identify as queer or trans poses a challenge to many of our communities, either for our theological, cultural or political reasons.For me, speaking about LGBTQ Muslims has brought along a lot of contention among … [Read more...]

A Gay Girl in Damascus Tells It Like It Is

Amina Abdullah is being celebrated as the unlikely voice of Syria’s revolution. She is a 35-year-old Syrian-American woman living in Damascus. On her blog, she writes candidly about her life as a lesbian in Syria. She garnered international attention after a post describing how her father was in an altercation with the state police.Abdullah’s blog is not only significant as an account of someone in the midst of Syria’s revolution.  It is also important because it is creating more opportunities … [Read more...]

Two Girls, One Tired Romantic Comedy: I Can’t Think Straight

I Can’t Think Straight is a film by Shamim Sarif that attempts to deal with culture, religion, and sexuality within the period of an hour and fifteen minutes. The story tells the tale of Leyla, an Indian Muslim, who falls in love with Tala, a Jordanian Christian. Heavy on Orientalist porn and thin on a plot, the film was a major disappointment. Instead of actually providing a critical look into how being a lesbian would be impacted by culture or religion, it followed the formula for a romantic c … [Read more...]

Aliyah’s Choice: The LA Times’ Profile of a Lesbian Muslim

It wasn’t but several years ago when a Google search for “gay Muslims” or “lesbian Muslims” turned up few results on actual people, mainly just pages on why homosexuality is a sin in Islam and perhaps one or two articles, usually focusing on men. Since then there’s been an increase in profiles on people who struggle to reconcile — or not reconcile — the two identities. Films like Parvez Sharma’s A Jihad for Love (2007) and the Channel 4 documentary Gay Muslims (2006) have added to coverage on th … [Read more...]