Whether it be the public sphere or amongst private circles, issues of homosexuality or transsexuality often come into conflict with notions of morality and faith across cultures, leading many LGBT individuals to embark upon a process of reconciling, in one way or another, their identity as a believer and their identity as a sexual human being.
A recent project by Iranian-born photographer Yalda Pashai, is attempting to bring awareness to the lives of LGBT Muslims and the realities of practicing religion as an openly gay community member. In a recent photo series titled "Illuminations," Pashai captures 11 subjects who identify as both gay and Muslim, demonstrating the range of sexual expression and devotion to faith present, and boldly challenging the stereotypical ideas surrounding what and who constitutes the Islamic community.
In a video provided by gallery Foto8, the subjects speak about their quests and struggles to forge connections between religious belief and self identity. "I had to denounce my past for a while, to be able to focus on my present," one man states, "but today, I am in a reconciliation phase."
As Muslims around the world embark on the celebration of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar when dedicated believers around the world reflect on their lives, Pashai's stunning depiction pays tribute to the diversity and depth of Muslim culture.
Update: The the works have been removed at the artist's request.