One of the greatest heartbreaks in my life occurred after coming out at the age of 24: I lost my Muslim community. After my public coming out, via an article in The Los Angeles Times, and the backlash that came with it, I retreated. I distanced myself from the people I cared about.
Reading two new books on LGBTQ identity gave me pause to reflect on the fact that identity is an ongoing issue for all of us -- particularly those of us in the LGBTQ community. Perhaps this is particularly true as the mainstream widens to assimilate us.
"Gay and Muslim American," for both Muslim and non-Muslim Americans, reads like an oxymoron. Yet, is a largely harmonized yet hidden identity that characterizes the experience of many Muslim American men and women.
Now that we've established, I hope, that sexual orientation isn't a choice, Muslim communities need to stop sweeping the topic under the carpet and start providing the right kind of support and advice. We Muslims need to be doing far more to support the LGBT individuals among us.
Despite increased awareness, parties and worship services have not always been welcoming to the LGBTQ community. But advocacy groups, cultural organizations and mainstream religious institutions have stepped in.