Five Out LGBTQ+ Muslim Artists to Support this Pride Month

Five Out LGBTQ+ Muslim Artists to Support this Pride Month

Both Muslim and Queer communities have faced a myriad of hurdles in America. This is compounded profoundly for Queer Muslims. Any list of prominent Queer Muslim artists is incomplete, because being both out and Muslim is observably fraught. In a recent poll by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, 31% of Muslim-Americans said they hold a favorable opinion of LGBT people, 23% said “unfavorable” and 45% said they had “no opinion.” The survey found that only white evangelicals held less favorable views of LGBT people

Here are 5 out Muslim artists to check out this Pride month.

1. Agha Shahid Ali

Agha Shahid Ali was a champion of poetry and widely acknowledged as bringing the form of Ghazal poetry, an austere form of poetry originating in the 7th century, to the West.  He is famously Kashmiri and eschewed easy dichotomies like Indian and Pakistani, Hindu and Muslim, the sacred and the sensual. He is considered a queer icon by some, and has been featured in a podcast series titled ‘Queer Icons’ produced by Likho Fellow, Toshi Pandey. Ali’s legacy continues in spite of him passing away in 2001. Indian activist Hoshang Merchant, in his book, “Forbidden Sex, Forbidden Texts,” dedicates a chapter to the poet, where he writes “Agha Shahid Ali is the most gifted poet of his generation, gay or straight.“ 

2. Bushra Rehman

Bushra Rehman is described on Goodreads as having been “a vagabond poet who traveled for years with nothing more than a Greyhound ticket and a book bag full of poems.”  The Queens raised poet and novelist’s first novel, “Corona,” set in Corona, Queens, follows the tribulations of a young Desi ingénue. Rehman’s most  recent work, “Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion,” centers themes of companionship and queer desire. The New York Times said, “Where a lesser book might have stooped to stereotypes about Muslims or immigrants, Rehman shows readers the complexities within Razia’s community.”

3. Dua Saleh

Dua Saleh’s music is extremely sensual and lyrical. They were born in Sudan, but arrived in Minneapolis as a refugee in the 1990s. The influence of the ‘90s is felt in their music, such as on “Warm Pants,” from their debut album “Nūr,” that recalls both Eryka Badu and the Cocteau Twins in vocalizations and instrumentation. To say their music is 90s is not to say that it is retro, however. In an interview with i-D Magazine, Saleh said, “In Sudan, there’s a lot of queer, trans and non-binary people who are closeted, so I try to put out as much content that’s like, the gay and trans agenda, as possible!” Saleh released the song “Smut,” sung partially in Arabic, on their album “Rosetta” (named in honor of the purported creator of rock ‘n’ roll, Sister Rosetta Thorpe). Saleh has also acted in theater in Minneapolis and is known for their recurring role as Cal Bowman in the Netflix series “Sex Education.” 

4. Samra Habib

Photographer Samra Habib, speaking of their project “Just Me and Allah,” said in an interview they sought to “broaden people’s understanding of how diverse Islam is.” is a Pakistani Canadian photographer, writer, and activist. Just Me and Allah launched in 2014 to document the lives of LGBTQ Muslims. Later, Habib added novelist to their list of credentials, when Penguin Random House Canada published their memoir “We Have Always Been Here”. Born in Pakistan to Ahmadi Muslim parents, Habib emigrated to Canada with their family in 1991 to escape religious persecution. “We Have Always Been Here” was the winner of the 2020 edition of Canada Reads, in which it was defended by Handsmaiden Tale/Kim’s Convenience actress Amanda Brugel

5. Candice Montgomery

Teen Vogue describes Candice Montgomery as a Black, nonbinary Muslim novelist whose work creates a world where Muslim, Queer and Black traditions are just as equally cherished celebrations as Christmas, Easter or New Year’s. On Goodreads, the author herself describes her recent bookHome and Away” as a “dirty little love letter to being young, Black and female.” In another book, “By Any Means Necessary,” Montgomery explores complexities about leaving behind racism and homophobia in the past, allegorically and directly explored by two boys falling in love with each other in a college setting. 

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