Dan Carter looks LGBT and the Muslim faith
This week we speak to Adam (not his really name) who was raised for the big majority of his life, as a Muslim.
How long did you consider yourself a devout Muslim?
My parents were very religious, so it was instilled whilst growing up, so I did the usual things, go to Mosque, celebrate Eid, fast over Ramadan. I went to our equivalent of Sunday school until I was about 14 or 15 years old. It was at that age that I started to have a few doubts and I wrestled with it for quite a long time, until I was about 16 when I realised, I didn’t believe in it anymore and I left the faith.
What was the major prompt for leaving?
I think when I started to come to terms with my sexuality that was quite a battle, so I was split between being Muslim and also being gay. That was quite conflicting at the time. I knew it was wrong in Islam to be gay so thought that reason I held back being openly gay. As you get older you get a bit more wise to things, I’ve always been from a science background so that helped me leave the faith as well.
Do your family know that you’re gay?
My family do know that I was gay, I was coming to terms with my sexuality when I was about 16, I was fully comfortable with my sexuality when I was about 17. I came out to my family when I was about 20 so about 3 years later.
How did they react? What is your relationship like with them?
I think they already knew, and they had their suspicions, I think when they finally found out it was hard for them to take in the reality that it was actually true, so they went a bit hysterical about it. I remember I had my first boyfriend at the time, when I was 20 I had moved back home as I was in my second year of uni, and my Mum always questioned why I was staying over at a ‘friends’ house all the time. My Mum knew I was staying there all the time and I came out to her and there was quite a lot of tension in the family. I think she had a mixture of emotions, I think mostly she was worried about what the community would think rather than what she was actually thinking herself.
Did the wider community find out? Was the wider family told?
No, they weren’t told. I think it’s still quite a taboo subject in the Muslim community, so someone is gay rarely appeared. You hear of Muslims who you know who are probably gay but it’s very much, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. If they’ve not been married, it’s quite common in the Asian community for someone to get married once they’ve left university so if you leave university and you’re not married it’s okay for the first couple of years but once you hit your late 20’s people start to know something is up. I think my Mum was trying to put it off until I was like 30, probably hopeful I would change my mind but once you get past 30 and you’re not married it’s very obvious.
It’s been a while since you came out, what is the relationship like today?
We get on now. It’s been 15 years since I last came out to my Mum so she realises there isn’t much she can do about it. I’m quite independent, I look after myself now, I don’t need to rely on her, I think my family rely on me more. If I want to get up and go across the world I can do now. I am fortunate to be able to do that now. My advice to other gay Muslim men is to think about it, if they’re young Muslims make sure they’re financially secure as it can be quite a difficult thing. I think my generation of Muslims is a little bit more open minded but there’s still a stigma attached to it.
Do you think there is support there for gay Muslims or former Muslims who are gay?
I know there is a Muslim group in Manchester, an LGBT Muslim group, but it really is for Muslims. I don’t think there are many ex Muslims who would agree with that group, I went to it for a while thinking it was more for Asians who were LGBT, but it is for Muslims who are LGBT and they are quite into their faith. I think for ex Muslims there probably not but there are ex Muslim communities in Manchester if you look hard enough.
Why did you want to be anonymous for this interview?
I think still, there are still hurdles in the Asian and Muslim community where as I mentioned earlier it is still a taboo subject and you know, people still talk, and some people still have quite backward views. I think if I was quite open about this, I would be alright, but I wouldn’t like to let my family down and I fear they would get some backlash about it.
I know you said you were from a scientific background but apostacy (leaving Islam) is big deal in Islam, did you wrestle with that when you left the faith?
I suppose it was kind of a double whammy, I was concerned with being gay and not being a part of the faith anymore. I think having a science brain certainly helped with coming to terms with it and to get the knowledge that there isn’t any such thing as God, angels, the devil or punishment for being gay. I kind of feel sorry for people who are Muslim and believe in God and are gay. I know they must feel very conflicted as they fear the hell fire.
Do you think homosexuality will ever be compatible with Islam?
No, I think it’s so imbedded. If you look at all the countries where homosexuality is still punishable by death, it’s in all Muslim country. I think there is hundreds of years of work to do before it ever could become compatible. I don’t know whether it could ever be compatible with the Quran.
Christianity would have been in the same place a few hundred years ago. Britain is a Christian country and we have gay marriage and gay politicians so is it possible?
If you think back to Britain 200 years ago there were gay brothels, it was all on the sly, but Britain was never like Saudi Arabia 200 years ago. I can’t see it happening.
That kind of answers this next question, so you don’t think there will ever be a gay Muslim wedding?
I know there was a case in the papers a couple of years ago where there was two men who were gay and Muslim, and they got a lot of backlash from that especially on Muslim social media sites. I don’t think one will ever be blessed by an Imam.
Do you think LGBT people have a negative view of Islam?
Yeah and in some ways, I don’t blame them. You only need to go on various social media sites that are predominately Muslim based and every time an LGBT article comes up the Muslim community are still very anti LGBT. Unfortunately, it hasn’t really changed much with the generations and I still think with the younger generations it has been ingrained so much by the parents that they’re particularly anti LGBT, especially the males.
We have to acknowledge there is discrimination against the Muslim community in the UK, do you think the media has a lot to answer for in that regard?
I definitely think so, I think the media can blow things out of proportion. I think with what is going on in Syria and stuff like that I think there is an unfair portrayal of how Muslims are represented. I think in terms of LGBT I think I am probably somewhat influenced by the media myself in how I think on that.
That is the end of our interview with Adam. I’d like to say a huge thanks to him for what has been a really fascinating talk about his personal experiences.
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