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LGBT Muslim Community Reacts To Orlando Shooting, Aftermath

Jun 14, 2016
Originally published on June 21, 2016 3:50 pm

Host Jeremy Hobson speaks to activist Mirna Haidar, who works with the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity, about the ways her community is reacting to the tragic shooting that occurred at Pulse nightclub in Orlando this week.

View all our coverage on the Orlando nightclub shooting.

Interview Highlights

On what Islam teaches about homosexuality:

This is an interesting question to start with because like any monolithic religion, there are tales in the scriptures about the people of Lot. And there’s a lot of misinterpretation of these verses. We do critical readings of the Quran, and reclaim our narratives and our history, and we strongly believe, and there are lot of references to it, that the story of Lot does not incriminate homosexuality. It does not say that homophobia is something our Muslim community should be following because the people of Lot were committing bestiality and pedophilia and not love from one person to another for same-sex love.

On what it’s like to come out to family members:

For many of us, it is very, very difficult, and for many reasons. Reasons can go from homophobia, Islamophobia, and to patriarchy itself. For example, how does a man need to be or act or look like or who he must love. But also there are assumptions about homosexuality within our religion that is also felt. So I will not deny that we do have a lot of work that needs to be done. But there are things that are not making it to the media. There are families, there are mothers and fathers that we met who supported their kids even though they didn’t know any better, they did everything they could to support and accept and love their Muslim queer kids.

On what comments the shooter’s father made about the gay community:

This statement was hard for us to read, by the father. Even though he was saying we shouldn’t kill people. For him, he thought he was saying something supportive for our community, but denying you know that we are part of this human being that is actually equal to him was very hard on us. You know him passing and killing these people is a tragedy because he was struggling and was unsettled, with apparently, I don’t know this person, apparently unsettled with who he was in both identities. And we strongly believe that this is a problem. It’s not one problem. It’s not just homophobia in our community. It’s homophobia, Islamophobia, access to gun and lack of access to healthcare and medical care for mental illness.

On whether this shooting will start conversations in the Muslim community:

Yes, of course. I mean, unfortunately, it took us this tragedy to have an open conversation about these matters in our community. The discourse is still problematic of course because there’s still this them and us or them and two different communities, and even though they’re coming out to vigils, it’s still them and us. I hope one day that we hear our community, our LGBT Muslim community from the mainstream Muslim community.

On speaking at a vigil in New York on Monday night:

It is really, really sad that Islamophobia is taking away from the victims’ lives, that we need to actually be focused on trans-Latina lives not anything else, really. There was heckling the day before at Stonewall where I spoke. Two of them really, kill all Muslims, or Muslims are the problem, arrest them all. Here they are.


Mirna Haidar, who works at the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity. She tweets @69mirs.

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