“That is not us, that is not our culture,” my father would reply when asked what he would say if one of his three Muslim daughters were to love another woman. It’s a recurring joke among my sisters and I – Mimi being “the straight one” since Mina’s coming out as bisexual over a year ago and my refusal to come out as any specific sexuality just last year. To this day it is assumed that the three of us will go on to marry Muslim men, and make our parents grandparents.
The day of the Orlando Shooting at Pulse Nightclub was the first time I felt any emotional connection to a tragedy beyond “If the killer is Muslim, our lives in America will only get worse from here.” This time, I saw myself in the 49 people killed, as one of the victims. I undulated between hopelessness and fear, before mourning the loss of people I had never known personally. I felt even worse knowing that two communities I am a part of are now going to be pitted against each other.
I sat, horrified, questioning how I can occupy those two identities at the same time. I wondered if my sexuality would end my relationship with God, or my religion would make me any less a member of the Queer community. I was speechless, tired from years and years of defending my religion to combat ignorance. And for the first time, I understood what it meant to be afraid because of your sexuality.