How would you behave if you were to find out that the friend, son, or brother you dearly love is gay? A typical response of Muslims would be disowning him completely. But before we take such a ruthless decision and force him to change his sexual preference, can we for once try to understand them?
The following letter is not an attack on the Muslim community and its approach towards homosexuality but instead, it is written for you to ask yourselves some important questions about the experiences that gays have to go through because of our mean attitude.
I am an American-Muslim teen, and I am gay. For so much of my life, I have been in pain. Every time I hear someone from our community talk about people like me, it feeds into a growing weight inside my heart.
The constant feeling of being unsure of how to live my life as both Muslim and gay is unbearable, and I know I am reaching my breaking point.
Since I realized my sexuality, I have had to sneak around, and hid my feelings. If the subject of LGBTQ+ people ever comes up with my family or Muslim friends, I tend to be vocal about not judging others, but I hide much of what I’m feeling. Many of the things they say often hurt me so deeply, yet they have no idea. I have Muslim friends who have called gay people disgusting and said they would not want to be friends with someone who is gay, and I’m just left to think about how they — sometimes very close friends — would react if they knew. On one occasion, I was with my aunt, and she said “I’m so thankful that you didn’t turn out gay. When you were a kid, you liked Dora and the color pink, so we were worried that you would be. But Alhamdullilah you’re not.” I stood there in that room with an ache in my heart, wanting to be alone and cry, but I smiled and said “Of course, Alhamdullilah.” These experiences, along with my inner struggle with these desires and longing for companionship, have inspired so much pain that has built up inside of me with no place or way to relieve myself from it.
Over the years, this has caused so much strain on my faith and relationship with God. So many times, I have gone back and forth between just giving up on my faith, and being pushed back by fear of the reality of hell. I don’t want to leave Islam — I feel connected to my religion, and I do believe in God. However, I rarely ever feel enough support to maintain a strong relationship with God.
In circles with other young Muslims, when they talk about how hard it is to wait for marriage, mentors always comfort them by explaining that they only have to wait a couple more years. They promise to young people that you should just wait, and soon you can marry and have no boundaries with your spouse. But this advice doesn’t apply to me. I’ve been told by sheikhs that I have to live my entire life avoiding this deep desire — but I’m not ever told how.
I was once in a lecture when someone said, and I quote: “Marriage completes half a man’s deen.“ He then explained that family life is so central to Islam, and is a necessary component to living as a Muslim; a person must get married and have kids to complete their faith. But where does that leave me? There are so many unanswered questions about how I, and people like me, am supposed to live my life, yet there are no people to answer them. Mosques do not have lectures about homosexuality. There aren’t support groups to help deal with these feelings. Discussions about life and family don’t mention gay people. And most importantly, Muslims do not present our religion as applicable to the lives of gay people.
There’s so much that the Muslim community could be doing — or could stop doing — to better support their gay brothers and sisters. The lives we live as Muslims is difficult, and often full of pain. I believe gay people have a place amongst us — we just need our community to better support us.
Thank you for reading about my experiences. I hope that in the future, you will take it into account that there are so many gay people hidden within our community that are heavily impacted by the words you say and the actions you take, and you will make sure that you do better to defend and support us.