Sitting at the table in front of me were faces that I recognized and yet had never met. Sitting at the table in front of me were young faces that carried the history of their families, their faith. Sitting in front of me were calm and reserve faces ready to tell their stories. Sitting in front of me were faces . . . and one face on Skype!
These faces were here to talk about “Coming Out Muslim: Radical Acts of Love. These young Muslims would go on to speak about their relationship with their faith and families. It is a perspective that many simply assume does not exist when talking about Queerness, when talking about the LGBTQ community. And yet the reality is that sexualities are represented in every spectrum of human alliance—religion, race, creed, color, you name it.
And these voices spoke from a wellspring of faithful understanding of a foundational knowing, “Allah makes Muslims . . .” And so the equation resolves, “Allah makes queers.”– Terna Tilley-Gyado.
The simplicity of this statement coming out of the computer screen and scripted so beautifully on a business card, belies the profound nature of statement. Listening, I found my head nodding in concert and my heart beating with unexpected surprise thinking, “I remember making the same claim as a young Christian as a pre-teen about Creator God!” This basic claim of belonging to faith because God belongs to all was comforting to hear in this room on this day because I felt in solidarity as a child of God. A God that does not begrudgingly claim me simply because there are people and institutions that do so.
As the evening progressed, something else struck me. I listened to a woman recount her unconscious notions that come to light when contemplating coming out a person of faith within the community but most importantly family. As she spoke I recognized the similarities between Muslim families attitudes about their child’s sexual life and that of my African American family and church attitudes about the same. Everybody knows its going. If nothing else, everyone knows that everyone is thinking about it in some way, shape or form. But knowing and thinking about it is much different then acknowledging the sexual beings that we all journey to understand. (And let it be stated firmly that asexuality is a journey as well.) She reminded me of a time when I was a teenager, when my family talked about me having children devoid of a sexual union with anyone. Nobody wants their baby to grow up. But can you imagine? If you can’t talk to your family or community about sex period, how do you talk about your sexual identity? It’s a weird kind of thought—we are sexual beings granted, but we are sexual beings that don’t want to address our sexualities.
Before I go on and with this musing, let me just say that Coming Out Muslim is a project that not only tells of what it means to be a practicing Muslim but it tells of how powerful it is to be queer and a faithful child of the Creator.
radical love: queer muslims live and love