I’ve written before about struggling with faith and my own queerness -coming out while attending a particularly Catholic university made things difficult from time to time. And having attended a Catholic elementary and middle school didn’t particularly help either. I was constantly being told of the love that God had for people but also that who I am went against God and nature. My queerness was and continues to be an abomination in the eyes of the Catholic governing power of my university, whether they fully admit it or not. I, along with so many others, survived numerous microaggressions and lived through the constant feeling of being unwelcome by many peers and educators.
It took me a really long time to acknowledge the fact that it is totally possible to be religious, of faith, and queer all at the same time. Those identities, while they can be at conflict at times, are not mutually exclusive and they don’t have to exist in conflict. It took me even longer to realize that there are churches and faith communities that fully embraced, accepted, and celebrated the lgbtq+ community.
I’m not the only one who has struggled with faith and my queerness, not by a long shot. Noha Elmohands wrote about how being queer made her a better Muslim and Carolyn Wysinger wrote about 5 ways to reclaim Christianity after coming out as queer. Lamya H wrote about how she is not your tragic queer Muslim story and among many other things, writes:
… My queerness and my Muslim-ness do not need to be reconciled mostly because they cannot be disentangled from each other. I can’t remember ever not having been both.
This isn’t to say that I haven’t struggled with my queerness and with Islam, because I have and continue to do so. But when the imagined narratives are stripped away, my struggles are, if not universal, at least familiar: how to avoid disappointing my parents, how to resist assimilation, how to live a fulfilling life. I suspect these will never be resolved, but in the end, this is a story about trying.
In the end, this is a story about living.
Being queer and religious or belonging in a faith community is not a universal experience nor is it an impossible one. No two people will experience faith and religion the same way – some might reclaim their childhood faith, others might not, and even more might have different relationships with faith.