Photographer Samra Habib from Toronto launched a new photography series and Tumblr documenting Queer Muslims. In Habib's words,
I wanted to show everyone the creative and brilliant LGBTQ Muslims I identified with the most and would hang out with at art shows, queer dance parties and Jumu’ah prayer. So I picked up my camera and decided to photograph what I was witnessing.
Since publishing the project only a month ago, Habib has received emails from LGBTQ Muslims from around the world.
In describing the importance of the project, Habib says,
While there has been discussion around multilayered identities in academia, there is a need for accessible visual representation that will serve as historical evidence of the existence of queer Muslims.
One of Habib's subjects:
We have always been here, it’s just that the world wasn’t ready for us yet.
Habib describes the complicated relationship that LGBTQ Muslims have with Islam:
Mainstream Islam isn’t always welcoming of LGBTQ Muslims yet a lot of the Muslim traditions and rituals bring queer Muslims comfort and provide a sense of belonging.
...which is "a queer affirming space in which prayers are conducted for a mixed gender congregation. LGBTQ members take turns leading the Friday prayer."
In addition to displaying Habib's photographs and advertising the project's exhibition dates, Habib's Tumblr showcases interviews with some of the project's subjects on their relationship with Islam.
Why Dali participated in the project:
When I first brought up the topic of queerness back home, I remember I was in class. My philosophy professor said that being homosexual is a “western” phenomenon, and that, in the Arab world, such “debauched people” do not exist. My participation is mainly to encourage queer visibility in the Muslim community. Through art, at least, we’re saying that yes, we’re here, and we do exist.
Why Samira participated in the project:
I had made a conscious decision about a decade ago to live my life out loud. By that I mean, to not shy away from any of my identifications; be they sexual, political, cultural and/or religious. Naturally, I felt it necessary to do so because I had met so many youth who were quite conflicted and closeted and in fear of living their lives. This is a small token or gesture on my part to let them know that they should not underestimate their families or their communities.
Check out this video of one of Habib's participants, Rahim Thawer, talking about being queer and Muslim:
Habib's exhibition will launch June 18 at Parliament Street Library in Toronto. For more information and photographs, see http://queermuslimproject.tumblr.com/