Those of us queer and Muslim have been deeply affected by what happened in Orlando. We are in mourning and stand with our LGBT family. Yet, we have been put in a position where on top of suffering like the rest of the LGBT community we are asked, “How does it feel to be Muslim today?”
There have been LGBT Muslims since there has been Islam, just like there have been LGBT people since there has been any other faith. We are human, first and foremost. As LGBT people LGBT Muslims face whatever LGBT people face; and as Muslim people LGBT Muslims face whatever Muslim people face.
Last year a gay Muslim friend of mine was killed when a bomb went off in a mosque while he was praying. My friend was one of thousands of Muslims killed over the past year by Islamists, some of them in mosques. He was not targeted because he was gay; he was targeted as a Muslim because he was praying in a mosque the Islamists didn’t like.
Over the past day his murder has been haunting my mind a lot, as events in Orlando unfolded. I wondered if he, and other LGBT Muslims that had been killed over the years, would show up as angels to help our friends in Orlando in their final moments.
LGBT Muslims suffer like everyone else in the larger community.
I’m saddened that there are a lot of negative reactions, from both the LGBT and the Muslim communities, as heartless public figures and the mainstream media pit our vulnerable communities against each other.
Yet, I’m humbled by all the positive things happening. I’m happy to see the positive messages of our allies, like the message of President Obama. I’m happy about all the non-Muslims who recognize terrorists don’t speak for all Muslims. I’m so happy to say there are a lot of Muslims who are out there and championing for the rights of LGBT people. I’m happy to live in a country where as a queer Muslim I can see an imam like Daayiee Abdullah on television, discussing how Islam is not to be blamed for what some Muslims do.
I was happy to see the support from the larger Muslim community from groups like Muslims for Progressive Values, an organization that has been speaking up for LGBT Rights for many years. It was also nice to see public figures in the Muslim community like Congressman Keith Ellison, journalist Mona Eltawahy, and activist Maajid Nawaz.
To the countless everyday Muslims and non-Muslims who spoke their minds, who stood up for human rights, and who did not allow Islamism to hijack their humanity, I say thank you.
Afdhere Jama is the author of Queer Jihad: LGBT Muslims on Coming Out, Activism, and the Faith. He lives in the United States.