Al Jazeera America's America Tonight explored what it was like to live at the intersection of two minority identities in the United States, being LGBT and Muslim. Reporter Edward Wyckoff Williams spoke to several LGBT Muslims, listening to their stories of their religion, of their family dynamics, and of the struggle for acceptance in mainstream America.
The stories that Williams heard were diverse in experience and background. Some have been estranged from their family, while others haven't told their parents. Many are the children of immigrants from countries that have laws against LGBT people, and the parents have carried that stigma with them to the United Stated. Some have walked away from their faith, while others have figured out how to live as a faithful Muslim.
Even discussions with religious leaders show the complexity of LGBT Muslim life in America. One imam urged parents to love and care for their children, and explicitly not to expel them from the family, even while he struggled to accept being gay as a sexual orientation.
"As someone from a Muslim family, I'm heartened to see a nuanced report that listens to the stories of LGBT Muslims," said Omar Sharif Jr. "When I came out in 2012, I also faced struggles with family, religion, race, and sexual orientation. I applaud the other brave LGBT Muslims who shared their lives with Al Jazeera America and with all of us."
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It was just a couple of months ago when GLAAD highlighted photographer Samra Habib's photography series and Tumblr documenting Queer Muslims, titled "Just Me and Allah." These instances of visibility provide greater understanding to the complexity of living at the intersection of multiple identities.