Friday, May 04, 2007

A Queer Muslim Resource List

Having discovered that that the Outlook Weekly in Columbus, Ohio carries my column, I checked out the paper and saw the May 2 issue had a series of articles on Gays and Religion. Seeing nothing about Gay Muslims I wrote in my disappointment and lack of surprise. Resources for GLBT Muslims are extremely meager. How, where would they find a story or someone to write it?

There are actually a number of resources -- organizations, yahoo groups, webpages with information and resources, but it takes some digging, as I've done over the years to put it all together, so I put up a GLBT Muslim Resource Guide on my website.

Making contact with others can be the most important thing we do. What I hear time and again from others is just what I experienced: The one really horrible thing about being queer is the loneliness and isolation that almost all of us have grown up with, and how that feeds the shame of just being who and what we are. I don't think anyone who hasn't experienced it can really understand how imprisoning and miserable that can be. The suicide rate among gay youth is extremely high. (Been there, hated it!) Just making contact with "People Like Us" can be so incredibly freeing. It is actually even humanizing.

I grew up isolated and miserable, even in an agnostic household! Coming to religion as an adult I've found it very empowering, but too many people grow up experiencing religion as a form of oppression. I've always known many "Catholic School Survivors" "Recovering Baptists" and now Muslims who grew up as queer, not just thinking that they were sick, disgusting, unloveable perverts, but also that they were hated by God (who is all love, compassion, and mercy!) and doomed to eternal damnation after enduring hell on earth. While a lot of gays have rejected religion, the sad truth is that religion rejected them first. Religious people have driven gays out of their faith communities and then accuse us of being anti-religious, selfish, hedonistic, and materialistic. Excuse me?????

It is not for me to tell anyone to come back to their religion or to emulate mine. Faith has to be a carefully thought out, personal decision. To choose or to reject faith out of fear or coercion is to miss the point of it altogether.

Our Abrahamite religions offer strong images of exile, stories of Abraham, Moses, Jesus wandering in the desert; Muhammed fleeing Mecca. Many of us have endured exile and each in his or her own way may come to a peaceful resolution with God -- or without. May God's peace be upon all the prophets, and may we all find God's peace whether or not we think we have found God. I don't know that anyone is capable of finding God, but do believe that God has found all of us and that our scriptures tell us that He honors our efforts.

So for Muslims struggling with being queer; for gays, lesbians, trannies, bis, etc... struggling with being Muslim, and for those who seek a more honest understanding of who we are, I hope -- InshaAllah -- this list will be of service.

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