LGBT Muslims and Cognitive Dissonance

I’m responding to a video from MTV News that pretty much came out a millennia ago in internet time. It’s pretty old. It came out two months ago. But I still feel the need to respond to it because it continues to be overwhelmingly relevant to the current conversation and stupifyingly oblivious treatment that the religion of Islam is given. The video is titled What it’s Like Being LGBTQ & Muslim. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m offended that they left out my intersex and asexual brothers in their gay letter pile up. Everybody knows it’s LGBTQIA+ now, guys. Come on. It’s 2016.

What it’s like to be LGBTQ and Muslim, huh? I can only imagine that it’s very interesting. Fucking gay Christians still have to jump through some mental hoops to justify those two conflicting parts of their identity, and (in the US at least) there are relatively few instances of extremist Christians doing anything worse than inconveniencing them. So being LGBT and Muslim has to be extra difficult. The cognitive load these people are under must be immense.

I wake up every morning and wonder “What identity am I gonna be killed for today?”

Seeing as how murderous hate crimes against Muslims are borderline non-existent in the US and Americans on average have a more favorable view of Muslims than Muslims have of Americans, I’m going to go ahead and say the gay thing is probably your best bet as far as ‘what am I gonna get killed over today?’ goes. Especially if you’re living in a religious community. Then again, I’d advise against waking up with 100% that today is the day you’re going to die in a hate crime. That seems a bit overly cynical. Some cognitive therapy might help with that.  

That’s how you’re going to open the video? Really?

You have Donald Trump tweeting “LGBT people, I’m here to protect you,” but at the same time he also says in the same tweet, “We’re gonna protect you from the people trying to kill you.” So one part of me he wasn’t to protect and fight for, but on the other side he wants to ban me.

I don’t want to be a Donald Trump apologist or anything (disclaimer: he is stupid), but he just supported gay rights here. I know this is MTV, the new bastion of leftist social politics, but are you not even going to give the guy credit where credit is due and admit that he said something progressive and supportive of a minority group? No? The guy can do no right, huh?

This is also a fucking retarded statement. Let me get this straight: You identify as an LGBT person, and you also identify as someone who wants to kill LGBT people? No one explicitly said Muslim, here. Not Trump, and not the guy commenting on Trump. In both cases, it’s implicitly acknowledged that people who want to kill [LGBT people] means Islamists. The guy who is arguing against this mentality just went right on to perpetuate that mentality by inherently acknowledging that they’re one in the same thing. He is outright copping to the fact that being Muslim more often than not entails being anti-gay, and he’s still going to complain about what Trump said. No cognitive dissonance here, folks!

This is the equivalent of a gay rights person talking about the struggles they’ve faced in America, with everyone in the audience inherently assuming that they’re talking about fundamentalist Christians even if it’s never explicitly mentioned. And rightfully so. You didn’t see very many Buddhists speaking out against gay rights. The issue here is that the entire point of this video is to say “Muslims didn’t do nuffin,” and in the first ten seconds, one of the people they’re interviewing makes the fundamentalist Muslim/people who don’t like me conflation seemingly without even realizing it.

You fail at your job MTV. You can’t even make propaganda right.

Where does that leave LGBT Muslims?

In a really shitty room full of hoops to jump through, I’d say.

Basically it feels like my identities are being used against each other.


Fucking shit. This video is going to be the end of me. It is actually going to kill me.

It feels like your identities are being used against each other because you know — you FUCKING KNOW — that the majority of people who follow your religion (yes, even the moderate ones in Western countries we love to bring up) are explicitly opposed to homosexuality. You know this, and you’re just ignoring it. You’re ignoring it in favor of acting like the people who legitimately point out the personal and intellectual dishonesty you’re engaging in are the bad guys.

This is actually making me angry. This is despicable. There are LGBT dying every day in Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt because courts majorly influenced by Islamic law say that being gay warrants a death sentence. People are dying. They’re being run out of their homes by their own family members. They’re being sent to prison. They’re being victimized by their government. They’re being forced into unnecessary and unwanted sex change surgeries to “fix” what’s wrong with them. And you are sitting there in a fucking MTV studio in LA or New York or San Fran, some nice, cushy first-world office where you are perfectly safe and supported by everyone around you, complaining about how it just doesn’t make any sense to you why people who care about gay rights are opposed to your religion. And it’s even more disingenuous when you’re probably the same kind of person who chomps at the bit to talk about how badly Christians treat gay people, but all of a sudden when it’s your religion people are rightfully pointing out as regressive and hateful that just doesn’t make any sense.

There are people out there, Muslims and ex-Muslims and every other kind of person, fighting to reform the religion you love so much. They’re fighting to bring Islam into the modern age to protect people like you! And you could help. You could be the change you want to see by being openly LGBT and Muslim and exposing the people of your religion to someone like you so that they realize that you’re just a normal person. You can work towards that reform. But you’re standing there with your head in the sand denying that there’s any problem that needs fixing, denying that there’s any reform that should be done because you have an okay time being gay and Muslim so you just don’t see what the problem is. Tell that to the people in prison right now. Fuck you. Seriously.

This is the equivalent of Alice being punched repeatedly in the face by Bob, but when Charlie comes to tell Bob off for his behavior, Charlie is the one Alice gets pissy with because Bob is an old friend and she doesn’t like people yelling at him, all while her face is swelling up to the size of a watermelon.

We get heckled. We get harassed by the NYPD. Not just as queer people, or people who look different, or gender non-conforming, or trans. But also we get harassed and surveyed because we’re Muslim.

It’s not the world’s job to accept you. If you’re going to walk around wallowing in how different you are, you’re going to have to deal with not everyone accepting you. That’s just how it is. As for the Muslim thing: You choose to be Muslim. Islam is a thing people choose to believe. It is not some inherent part of their identity that they’re born into and can’t change. When you choose to believe something, it is your job to justify that belief, and the negative implication of that belief are the weight that you’ve chosen to bare. This is like a Scientologist getting pissy about how no one trusts them and everyone judges them and thinks they’re crazy. That’s what you deal with when you join a religion infamous for being full of crazy people. And being surveyed by the authorities is what you deal with when you join a religion infamous for inciting criminal behavior. Maybe you should, I don’t know, try to reform that religion so that’s no longer the first thing that comes to people’s minds when they hear about it. But wait, Muslims didn’t do nuffin. I forgot.

I think the term “radical Islam” is a term that’s overused. But I also feel like it’s a term that can be applied to any religion, any community.

This is the biggest non-argument ever made in defense of Islam. Other things are bad too, guys! Why can’t we just talk about those then? Why are you talking about my bad thing?! Yeah, I know the Salem witch trials happened and killed lots of innocent people and were overtly influenced by Protestant doctrine and religiosity, but look at all the shit Catholics have done! Catholics did bad things, so why are you singling out Protestants? The witch trials had nothing to do with Protestant ideas because other people also did bad things for other reasons, which means talking about religion in this case is pretty much pointless. It had nothing to do with it. You can apply the term “religious fundamentalism” to anything!

Said no one ever because everyone is perfectly fine with talking about the negative effects and implications of a religion as long as it’s not Islam. Islam is fucking sacred and is only responsible for the good things it encourages and has nothing to do with anything bad.

We talk about radical Islam because it is the religion causing the most problems right now. Oh, why don’t we talk about Christians? They don’t like gay people either. Sorry to break it to you, guys, but this is laughable. Out of all the places that have outlawed homosexuality, one of them is Christian (Uganda) and the rest are Muslim. Even though there is some Christianity-fueled anti-gay sentiments left in the US, the West in general seems to have accepted the notion that gay people exist and can do what they want. So a Christian doesn’t bake someone a wedding cake, or the Westboro Baptist Church ruins another beloved celebrity’s funeral. They aren’t hurting anyone. The worst, most damaging things that still happen somewhat frequently are that maybe some Southern Baptist parents kick their gay son out of the house or force him into conversion therapy (which is quickly becoming illegal nation-wide). You can call them assholes all you want, and you would be correct. Those are deplorable things to do. But the instances of that are going down, and it sure as fuck isn’t written into our federal laws that we should kill gay people and even the most fundamentalist Christian in the Bible Belt wouldn’t agree to that, unlike many fundamentalist Muslims who think the death sentences for fags is okay. You are patently ignoring that modern Christian fundamentalism and modern Muslim fundamentalism are too very different things that can’t be conflated with a “but both of them are bad” shoulder shrug.

What do they mean when they say radical Islamism? Who do they mean? They’re using this term to comfort people in America that, “Look, we know what it is. It’s radical Islamism. And we need to kill it. And we need to survey them. And we need to deport them.

You know what we mean, you stupid fucking-

I’m done. We’re pointing out that we know what it is we need to stop because radical Islam turned into a political movement is overtly the thing causing so many problems. What, would you be against us labeling the Nazis as the guys we’re fighting and need to stop? ISIS has control over major states and releases propaganda about how they’re attacking the West because it’s full of sinners. Nah duh we’re identifying that as the problem we’re going up against.

When people use radial Islam, it just feels like the Boogeyman.

Yeah. If the Boogeyman was real and killed hundreds of people a day and indoctrinated them into a radical belief system that glorified above all else dying while fighting the infidels and victimized mainly the other Boogeymen around it for not being “Boogey enough” but has quickly started branching out to kill people en mass in other countries, yeah, it’d be like the Boogeyman then. I see your point.

You realize you would be killed by these people for being a bad Muslim, right? You realize this? You being a Muslim doesn’t protect you from radical Islam anymore than it protected the hundreds of people in the Middle East being subjugated right now.

Being trans-gender in this day and time is rough, especially with everything going on. And being Muslim is also. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Wouldn’t trade it for the world, huh? Let me fly on over to the war-torn deserts of Syria and ask some of those people being terrorized by radical Islamic regimes if they wouldn’t trade it for the world. Let me run on down to the Egyptian prison system and ask the gay man imprisoned for life in barely livable conditions for no other reason than he likes to take dick up his ass sometimes if he wouldn’t trade his situation for the world. Let me ask the gay man in Iran who avoided a prison sentence by being coerced into male-to-female sex change surgery so that his interest in men would be okay if he wouldn’t trade it for the world. Let me ask the woman in Saudi Arabia desperately trying to seek asylum in another country because she’s been accused of adultery but can’t leave because her abusive husband won’t give her her passport if she wouldn’t change it for the world.

This just goes to show how fucking sheltered these people are. They live in the first-world. Nice, Western societies that don’t have to worry about religious insurgent groups, that support their tendency to sit there and navel gaze about their own identity and go on TV to talk about their brainless musings to other people. They have good lives. They wouldn’t change it for the world, because nothing about their life is all that fucking bad no matter how much they insist that they are oppressed.

I want people to recognize that a lot of us live in these intersections that aren’t super clear. Our love lives are really complex, and our family lives are really complex, and our relationship to religion is really complex.

Yeah, I fucking bet it’s complex. I have a complex life too. Balancing my identity as a black woman with my firm belief in Neo-Nazism gets pretty tough sometimes. But I’m complex, and my relationship with my political beliefs is complex. When people point out to me that being a black Neo-Nazi is kind of suicidally stupid and contradictory at the most basic level, that’s just a sign of them not getting it. Neo-Nazis are a fine group that haven’t done anything to warrant that totally false negative judgement. I keep trying to explain this to people, and it never works. That’s the cross I bare, I guess.

I hope that after this tragedy we have a more meaningful conversation about how we can more forward, not just as separate communities but as people who live in this country, as people who want the best for humanity.

Meaningful conversations! Like when we totally avoid the elephant in the room about how modern Islam is overtly and oftentimes violently anti-gay and then go on to make a two minute long video about how we just don’t get why anti-gay and Muslim are conflated so often. Logic.

Herp de derp.


7 thoughts on “LGBT Muslims and Cognitive Dissonance

  1. “But I’m complex, and my relationship with my political beliefs is complex.”

    Ha! This whole piece was really well done and you made me laugh too. I also cannot believe how sheltered some people are. Islam is like the extreme radical right of all Christianity. It is not open, it is not tolerant. To try to wrap LGBT rights with Muslim rights is insane.

    I don’t understand it all, but the ME actually has some odd and diverse relationships with homosexuality that aren’t what I wouldn’t have expected. Iran does the second largest number of sex changes in the world, some of them as a cure for homosexuality, but also as a cultural response to their dancing women, their comfort girls, the men that are actually raised from birth to impersonate women. In Afghanistan they can kill you for having sex outside of marriage, but not with boys, so once a week or so adolescent boys will dress up as women and it becomes a sexual festival, a free for all. Pedophilia and child sexual abuse are rampant, cultural, and not perceived as a crime like it is in the West. Child brides are common, but so are male child “brides” used for sex purposes.

    • Yeah, the Muslim world’s general view on homosexuality/transgenderism is pretty interesting. But what it isn’t is progressive, so pretending that they can coexist without either making any changes is laughable. =P There’s actually a very interesting documentary (forget the exact name) that follows the goings on at an Iranian sex-change clinic that I would recommend.

  2. RandomGuy says:

    Unrelated, but a friend of mine says they believe in BLM, but they strongly dislike the police getting shot, the calling of almost everything racist, and the riots; and prefer peaceful, non obstructive protest. Is this good or not?

    • BLM is like feminism. If you say you’re a part of it, the entire thing is so amorphous and vague that it’s pretty impossible and ill-advised to say “No, you’re not.” While the founders of the group BLM have some very concrete ideas, it’s also clear that many people have latched onto BLM as simply a name for a basic concept of not hating black people. People can do whatever they want and call themselves whatever they want, but I’d argue that it’s a bad thing for a political movement to co-opt the entirety of a generalized concept and say “That’s what we are.” For example, it would be like me, as a pacifist, saying that the Pacifist movement is synonymous with being a good person, so the only way to be a good person is to identify as part of the pacifist movement.

      I personally think it’s a bad thing to follow that movement just because you agree with the whole of the general concept that the movement has made itself synonymous with even though, in practice, they are not synonymous at all. I would sincerely ask your friend that, if they don’t like two of the major things that the BLM movement has led to–either intentionally or unintentionally, it doesn’t matter–then why do they continue to call themself a part of that movement. I stopped supporting Occupy Wall Street after they made it clear the protest got co-opted by SJW hippies. Me supporting the idea it started out with doesn’t mean I have to support it even after it devolves into something negative.

        • The original conception in of itself was rather flawed (Michael Brown wasn’t a good martyr), and the founders of the named movement explicitly cited an anarchist/domestic terrorist as their inspiration. So yeah. It wasn’t a movement I was ever interested in. But latching itself onto the very idea of anti-racism in order to appeal to people was a smart move on its part.

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