When activist Rafiul Alom Rahman gave up a lucrative scholarship at the University of Texas a couple of years ago, he took a risk he could barely afford. But he had a compulsion, he had to “undo” years of guilt most Muslim queer people like him grow up with. That is why he wanted to build a safe space for queer Muslims in India, both online as well as offline.
“For a long time, I couldn’t come to terms with my own desires. I always felt there was something abnormal about it. I remember, long back, when I was 14 or 15, I approached a maulana and told him about how I feel, that I don’t know what this is. He said. ‘You’re very young. Otherwise, I would’ve advised you to marry a woman. But since you’re young what you can do is offer prayers and fast. And each time such thoughts cross your mind, just take cold showers.’ So I grew up with this very skewed idea about sexuality,” says Rafiul.
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@the_proud_trust created ‘Faith In Yourself’, a guide to hold young people’s stories, journeys and questions. It’s also somewhere to explore advice in navigating identity journeys as people who are LGBT+ and have religion, faith or belief. #lgbt #faith #religion #queersoffaith #queersofcolour #resources #community #queermuslims #queerchristians #queerpeopleoffaith #islam #christianity #judaism #abrahamicfaiths
Once Rafiul came to Delhi, to pursue an undergrad course in DU, he became involved with the queer activist community and there was no looking back for him. But, even in these queer friendly spaces the erasure of Muslim identities made him uncomfortable. Going to the US lead him to finding communities that convinced him to come back and ultimately start The Queer Muslim Project in 2017.
“While I was still in the US, I learnt about interfaith groups and realised that there were a lot more interesting conversations happening where religion and faith was used more progressively to address sexuality, LGBTQ and women’s rights. I learnt about this group called Muslim Alliance For Sexual And Gender Diversity who had been working for a long time on pluralistic and inclusive versions of Islam. I also learnt about feminist scholars who have been re-looking at Islamic verses that were problematic in dealing with women and LGBTQ people,” Rafiul pointed out, “In India these ideas were not easily accessible. This is still a conversation that is restricted to the West and a certain class of people here who have access to that kind of academic discourse.”
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#Repost @mystoryoutloud never enough. . not masculine enough for my family or for what society thinks I should be, . not feminine enough for how a faggot or tranny is usually seen, . not talented enough to be a master of one trade, . not skilled in enough to be a jack of all, . not Muslim or religious enough to feel at home in a masjid, . not queer enough to feel at home with gays, . not quiet enough to enjoy the company of nerds, . not talkative enough to be a socialite, . not skinny enough, . not active enough, . not cultured enough, . not selfless enough, . not selfish enough, . not thoughtful enough, . not practical enough, . not thorough enough, . not nice enough, . not tough enough, . not considerate enough, . not successful enough, . not rich enough, . Not white enough, . not black enough, . Never good enough. never happy. . Never able to please others, never able to please ourselves. . Never good enough. . We are the misfits._And we are ok with ourselves. . We are ok. . We are perfect not despite, but because of our imperfections. . We are. Never enough. . And that means we are enough. . Ameera, Wisconsin, Muslim Youth Leadership Council member (she/her)
He added, “Even in queer spaces you sometimes come across people who make Islamophobic jokes. There is no diversity in their experiences. If you’re a gay Muslim, you’re often told ‘How can you be holding on to Islam, a faith which is so oppressive?’ and it is so dismissive. There could be queer people who are still negotiating their experiences with faith. Their experiences often getting ridiculed or dismissed. Even in Islam, we’re told that homosexuality is haram (sin). I wanted to create a space that starts conversations around progressive and inclusive Islam.”
Almost two years down the line, The Queer Muslim Project has already become a safe haven for young Muslim LGBTQ folks to share their stories, in solidarity with others like them. From trans Bengali Muslim women to queer Muslim Palestinians, their social platforms are flooded with touching stories from all over the world, that have been contributed for their campaign #2019QueerMuslimGoals.
Rafiul said, “LGBTQ Muslims are as diverse as it gets. Some people are close to their faith, some are questioning it, some have distanced themselves from it. The #2019QueerMuslimGoals campaign has been created to increase visibility of all such narratives.”
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“As a queer Muslim Palestinian, I often feel like the odds are stacked against me. Every day that I am blessed enough to wake up and continue my life is a victory for myself and everyone like me. Against all odds, we continue. Without shame, fear, or regret. May I continue on the path of authenticity and continue to grow in 2019.” (Jamal, 26) . . This post is part of our #2019QueerMuslimGoals series. If you are a queer Muslim individual and would like us to feature your 2019 goals: 1. DM us your quote with a high quality image, or 2. Post the image on your feed along with your quote, and hashtag #2019queermuslimgoals and #thequeermuslimproject. (For private handles, option 1 would work) . . #queermuslims #2019goals #lgbtq #goalsetting #palestinian #freedom #selflove #humanrights #socialjustice #islam #homosexuality #newyear #resolutions #queer
Now they’re taking their safe space offline. For the first time, they are about to have a one of a kind retreat over three days from January 25th to 27th. Supported by Planet Romeo Foundation, the India LGBTQ Muslim Retreat will be attended by almost 30 queer people from all over India.