Once during my sophomore year theater class, we had to write an “I Am” poem. What that is, basically, is a poem about who you are. “Who am I?” is what I thought to myself. At the time, no one in my theater class had known it about me, but I decided to write about it anyway. The first line reads,
I’m gay and I’m Muslim.
I wonder sometimes if that’s even a possible combination.
Which is the truth? The concept that it’s possible to be Muslim AND gay is still a bit fuzzy to me, simply because the concept had never been introduced to me before. It’s been ingrained into my brain since the day I was born that boys marry girls, not only because that’s the societal norm but also because “that’s what it says in the Quran.” To think that I may be going against these ideals is at times a bit disconcerting.
Even now I can feel my heart drop whenever I hear my mom talking about my future wedding, knowing that what I have in mind is most likely not what she is thinking.
Though I have a large outside support system, the knowledge that I may never live up to my family’s expectations of me is enough to make me feel quite alone in my struggle, that no one else is going through what I am. This is an emotion felt by many others in the LGBTQ+ community, and the lack of representation in the mainstream media isn’t really helping all that much.
However, with artists such as Hayley Kiyoko, who you may know from her highly acclaimed music video for Girls Like Girls, Lauren Jauregui of Fifth Harmony, and TV characters like Adena El-Amin from The Bold Type, it is becoming easier and more accessible for today’s youth to feel represented and see themselves in what they watch. However, one TV character and two singers who identify as LGBTQ+ sort of pale in comparison to the hundreds of other examples of non-LGBTQ+ representation there are in the world today.
While there is a lack of LGBTQ+ representation in the mainstream media, there is also a lack of this representation in religious communities. Talking about or being anything that isn’t straight or cis-gendered is considered a taboo in a majority of religious communities. Given the rocky stances surrounding topics such as these, it has, unfortunately, become common for LGBTQ+ youth who are tied to certain religious communities to feel abandoned, or that they don’t belong, that they should hide their feelings, that their existence was a mistake. Especially in today’s political climate, the feeling of being alienated has become omnipresent for minorities such as myself.
It is important for the people in these positions to understand that we are not alone no matter how much we believe we are. It is even more important for the people not in these positions to understand that we’re already going through a heck of a lot, telling us that we are “sinful” and that we are “going to hell” isn’t really gonna do much. Try educating yourself on the pressing and usually, unfortunately, dangerous situations that many LGBtQ+ youth find themselves in these days and see what you can do to help.
And to those who are allies of the LGBTQ+ community: thank you.
I believe the final part of my poem wraps up how I, as well as many others in the same position as myself, feel perfectly. It reads,
And I’m proud
And I’m excited
And I’m nervous
And I’m probably gonna throw up after I say this, but
I’m gay, and I’m Muslim.