D.S. | January 10 2017
When I was 15, I googled “How do you know if you’re gay?”, and when I turned 18, I googled “Does God exist?” I am a Muslim, born as one, brought up as one, and believed as one; up until people of my own Ummah (community), told me that my murder would be morally and religiously okay.
For years I lived in denial of my sexuality; constantly telling myself that it’s all in my head, that it’s just this one girl I am attracted to, that I am actually straight. I hid from my own self and thoughts. I was in a relationship which we both called a “friendship”. After we broke up I moved to Lebanon to study at university, and for a while I completely convinced myself that it was just a one-time thing.
In my second year of university, I met Adam. He became one of my closest friends, and a few months into our friendship he came out to me. That was the turning point in my being. Seeing someone be undeniably themselves made me long to do the same. I was riddled with doubts about my religion; one which was recently stained with the blood of Orlando victims.
How do you continue to believe in something that believes your mere existence is an illness, a wrong gene, a morbid creation, an abomination? How do you pray to God if you’re not sure anyone is listening? How do you pray to a God whom everyone assures you, hates you? A God that created you and then told you that being yourself is a major sin, how do you love that God? How do you believe in something that doesn’t believe in your equality or rights? You don’t.
But how do you give up on all the goodness that comes along with believing in God? How do you give up on the promise of a heaven where the broken souls will heal? How do you stop believing in something so ingrained in your being and in who you are? You don’t.
I reached a conflict of interest. I found myself a bundle of paradoxes in a body too weak to hold them together. I felt my heart shred itself; I bathed in guilt and dried myself with self-doubt. Where could I have gone from there? I had hit rock-bottom, with nowhere but up to go.
I was faced with the option to either take off my hijab, along with it my Islam, or to live a life where I hated myself for who I was born as. I found comfort in solitude. A line from the TV show House stayed with me long after I had finished the show; “You cannot be angry at God and not believe in him.” It struck a chord with me. I was angry at God, so therefore I believed in God’s existence. What was the next bridge to cross? I had only just resolved a part of a much larger and more complicated puzzle.
“Islam is the religion of Peace.” I’ve heard this statement enough times, without a whole lot to support it. I thought to myself one hot summer day, as I launched an anti-homophobia campaign in Lebanon, if we want to be the religion of peace, we must be a religion of peace for everyone. We cannot be exclusive in our kindness. I believe in a reform in Muslims, or a reform in Islam. I believe that I can be both queer and loved by the God that made me so. I get to choose what to believe in.
It was in that moment that I decided to unlearn a whole lot of stuff, and rebuild my faith in Allah, bit by bit. I sought out people who found similar inner tranquility in blogs, bars, poetry slams, and Masjids. I found people, entire communities of people, who were kind enough to have a place in their hearts, and our Islam, for the LGBT community. These people helped, and continue to help me, in my quest of regaining and recreating my faith, a faith I learn, believe and find, not inherit.
Illustration by Abeer Al-Shaye.
D.S. has asked to remain anonymous.