Coming Out / Over The Holidays

Longest Days, Sacred Nights

a project for LGBQIA Muslim youth


This Ramadan, Everyone is Gay is partnering with Masjid al-Rabia to put together an ENTIRE MONTH of Ramdan programming for LGBQTIA+ Muslim youth. The package includes letter of support from other LGBTQ Muslims, a Queer Ramadan Mixtape from Punkjabi, a collection of resources from OUTMuslim, and more!

Here is the welcome letter from Masjid al-Rabia founder, Mahdia Lynn:

Ramadan can be hard, especially so for the most marginalized in our communities. It’s also an opportunity for people to reconsider their prejudices, step out of their comfort zone and strive to enact positive change in the world. Ramadan is a time of generosity, family, introspection, temperance, struggle, heartbreak, frustration and tears. It can be hard to explain just how beautiful and devastating this month can be at the same time.

Last year hit many of us the hardest. On the seventh day of Ramadan in 2016, a man opened fire on 49 LGBTQ people at Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub on Latinx night. Our community was devastated, and the LGBTQ Muslim community came out in droves to educate others on Islam and to support our community. Suddenly “LGBTQ Muslims” was on the lips of every news source in the world. A lot of us came out that week—I did. Much of Chicago’s LGBTQ Muslim community did. Many lives were lost, many families were broken that week.

But something big came out of all that tragedy and chaos. Queer and trans Muslim organizers came together in unprecedented numbers to speak out and to support one another. We realized just how desperately we need support and resources for people like us—people who understood that being LGBTQIA+ and Muslim is a beautiful, valid identity with a thriving culture. We needed to help others realize it’s perfectly okay to be who you are; we needed to ensure that the work reached everyone who needed it. We needed to get the word out, that it was valid and beautiful to be us. That we can be okay and be loved. That we have a future.

A year has passed. Many great changes occurred in the wake of the chaos. In Chicago, those of us who came out in the Muslim community last year formed a committee that would develop into something beautiful and dynamic. We built a mosque: a ground floor from which our community could flourish. We created something unprecedented and new, so we can share our mission of spiritual support for marginalized Muslims with anyone who seeks the truth of Islam.

We needed a safer space where everyone could celebrate the beauty and truth of our faith without fear, so we founded a community of our own. We built a mosque on the sacred principles of accessibility, equality and pluralism. We named it Masjid al-Rabia.

A year has passed and here we are. A fully independent women-centered, LGBTQIA+ affirming Muslim community in Chicago, Illinois. After hosting weekly prayer services, advocating for LGBTQ Muslims and fostering new spiritual leadership in our local community, we want to share our mission with the rest of the world. We at Masjid al-Rabia have partnered with Everyone Is Gay to create another something, unprecedented and new: A month-long campaign of support, shared resources, and endless love for LGBTQ Muslim youth. We’ve got letters of support from prominent queer & trans Muslims. We’ve got Punkjabi’s Queer Ramadan Mixtape. A collection of resources and organizations to share with the world from advocacy organization OUTMuslim. Art. A social media campaign encouraging others to speak out and support LGBTQ Muslims.

We’re kickstarting an international campaign to support LGBTQIA+ Muslim youth. It’s our mission this Ramadan to make sure no Muslim is alone in their faith over this holiest of months. We’ve started something new. Let’s keep the momentum going.

This project is for you: For people trying to navigate fasting while living with an eating disorder. For poor Muslims surviving on free iftars and holiday generosity. For disabled Muslims fighting for a space in the masjid. For reverts and converts struggling to find a place in the faith. For those of us marching in the streets for economic and racial justice. For those of us kicked out of the mosque for being who we are. For those of us with families who don’t understand. For those of us without families at all.

Ramadan Mubarak. This is for you.

Here is my prayer for you: May you have a peaceful, fulfilling Ramadan. May these longest days lead to sacred nights full of support, growth and endless love. I pray for peace and blessings upon every single one of us. I pray we find purpose, and find new creative ways to uplift one another. I pray we find greatness.

In this most sacred of months, dream big. Think about what you want and what you need from your community. Step out and start doing it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to admit you’re feeling raw or vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to stick your neck out there to make some real change in your community. Don’t be afraid.

We’re here for you if you need us.

~~~

Get involved and help make this project the best it can possibly be. Start conversations in your community about LGBTQ Muslim inclusion. Invite new people to join in your community and events. Send love and support to the most marginalized. Contribute artwork, poetry, essays, memes—anything you can think of, anything you excel at—post it on social media, tag it #LongestDaysSacredNights and share with our community.

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“Do you have any super gay tips for surviving the holidays when you’re not out to your family? Love you guys!”

-Question submitted by Anonymous

Kristin Says:

Your friends, your friends, snapchat, your friends, tumblr, your cat, your cat, your friends, and the 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story.

Seriously.

So very many humans, around this time of year, wind up in a house with a gabillion relatives who don’t know their identity and who insist upon asking questions that can’t be answered (while remaining ‘not out’), or who talk loudly over spiked eggnog about politics in a way that makes steam come off of much more than the holiday-cookie tray. It can be super difficult, especially when you aren’t able to speak your truth in response, and that is why self-care is so, so important at this time of year.

The reason that my list includes ‘your friends’ a hundred times is because I think that the best way to remain centered is to remind yourself that there is an entire world that exists outside of your house. I am hoping, Anonymous, that you have a few friends who do know who you are, and who support and love you. Be in touch with them. Text them when your grandma asks you for the hundredth time about ‘bringing a boy home’ or when your aunt asks you why you support marriage equality. Maybe your relatives are super chill and it isn’t even about them asking questions that make you feel uneasy, but you just aren’t ready to come out – you should still talk to those friends. Tell them how you are feeling, send stupid jokes back and forth, snap them pictures of your snoring uncle, and let them tether you to a place where you know you can be you.

If your friends are all going to a remote island for the holidays and won’t have service, or if you aren’t out to them yet, then… use us. By us I mean the internet. We are all here, all the time, sharing stories of our own holidays at home, giving advice, making memes, and just existing so that you know that you aren’t alone. That’s really the key: hang out with your family as much as you can, but give yourself time with things that make you feel good, happy, and whole.

Now, to the rest of my list: If family members do ask you questions you can’t answer, just shrug and say, “Do you know when the marathon of A Christmas Story starts? My goal this year is to watch it for the entire 24 hours.” If someone says something about politics that makes you feel super angry, grab the family cat, squeeze him tight, take him to your room or a quiet place, and tell him every single thing that made you furious in that moment. Cats are really good at keeping secrets.

Take it one moment at a time, remember to stay connected to support (and laughter), snuggle up in a blanket as often as possible, and know that there are a million billion of us snuggled up in our own blankets who understand exactly how you are feeling. Oh, and know that it’s totally 100% awesome and cool for you to not be out for as long as you want to be.

xx

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"Hi there! Basically, I'm the only person in my family who's not in a relationship, and with Valentine's Day coming up... there's a lot of questions from them about any boys I might be interested in. I'm a lesbian so it's pretty frustrating! Is coming out on/very close to Valentine's day a bad idea? I feel like I'll go mad if they keep asking me questions...but I've read a lot of advice that says not to come out near times like that. Any thoughts?"

-Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

ANY ADVICE THAT HAS URGED YOU TO NOT COME OUT IS BAD ADVICE. STOP TRUSTING THOSE ADVICE-GIVERS AND WEBSITES. If the coming out is what you want to do, if your heart feels contented at the thought, if your shoulder weight is significantly reduced at the mere suggestion, if you feel safe and if you WANT. TO. COME. OUT. Do it.

Who gives a flying fuck about Valentine’s Day?!?! If anything, this works to your advantage. You can photoshop yourself into a Valentine’s Day card featuring you and Lady Celeb of choice! You can spell “I am a queer” in assorted chocolate bites. You can make a macrame heart and use little pins to write “I HEART LADIES.” The world is legitimately your oyster.

Come out because you want to come out, not because someone told you it’s the right time.

AND HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY, YES I WILL BE YOUR VALENTINE THANKS FOR ASKING.

Kristin Says:

YEA DANNIELLE WILL BE YOUR VALENTINE THANK YOU FOR ASKING.

Not coming out near Valentine’s Day is the silliest advice I have ever heard. WHY?! That. It. No sense. It doesn’t make sense. So, since you are coming out on Valentine’s Day to make your family stop yammering about your lack of a boyfriend (and possibly, now, start to yammer about your lack of a girlfriend), here are a few more ideas on how to do it:

1. At family dinner, scream, “ROSES ARE RED VIOLETS ARE BLUE I LIKE GIRLS AND YOU SHOULD TOO!”

2. Buy one of those big teddy bears that say “I Love You,” and tape a sign that says “GIRLS” over the “You.” Leave this on the couch in your family’s house.

3. Put on a recording of “Cupid” by Sam Cooke and at the chorus, sing along, “Cuuuupid drawwww backk youuuur booooow-owwww, and let I’M A LESBIAN shoowwwwww…”

4. Give your family a Valentine’s Day card that says: “To: My Family // Love: Your Gay Daughter.”

5. OMG I don’t know if there is time, but you could get them custom candy hearts that just say, “Lesbian.” Don’t explain anything past that. Just raise your eyebrows.

You’re welcome?

***

Hi! Our advice is always free for all to read & watch. Help us keep this gay ship chuggin’ by donating as little as $1/month over here on Patreon. xo

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Kristin's Coming Out Story

Mashed potatoes, overcooked stuffing, and an antibiotic-infused Butterball turkey: these are the markers of the American holiday known as Thanksgiving. Unless, of course, you were at my house on Novem- ber 26, 1998. If that were the case, you would have also found a slightly tipsy, wine-drinking mom; a smiling, story-telling dad; a sullen, pre- pubescent little sister; and me at the age of seventeen, clad in Salvation Army–sourced clothing, about to tell my parents that I was gay.

First, some background. Until my senior year in high school, I identified as a straight girl with very close girlfriends and a deep adoration for Liv Tyler. My very observant mother, however, had asked me countless times if I was a lesbian. My answer was always the same: “No, Mom, calm down and stop asking me!” Then, in the fall of 1997, I met a girl. We became friends. We hung out. We kissed. We liked kissing. We did some other stuff. This happened a few times, and then that thing happened. That oh-dear-God-my-stomach-is-squeezed-and-my-heart- is-in-my-throat thing. I liked this girl.

In addition to my oh-my-God-I’m-gay panic, I was horrified that my mother had been right all along. As we all know, telling your parents that they are right about anything is almost impossible between the ages of eleven and twenty-four. I didn’t breathe a word of my gayness to any- one but my close friends for almost a year, which brings us back to the Thanksgiving Day surprise.

Once my sister had left the table, I began to complain about an awful translation of the Bible that had been given to me by a relative. I said something like, “They make it sound like God hates gay people, but that is a load of BS.” My mom looked up from her stuffing, her eyes troubled by my angry tone, and asked, for the hundredth time, “Kristin, is there something you want to tell us?” Then . . . it just happened. I dug my fin- gers into my palm, mustered up as much teenage courage as I could, and answered, “Yes. I want to tell you both that I’m gay.”

Silence.

The first thing my parents said to me, and the thing I will always remember, was that I was their daughter and they would always love me. For that, I was (and still am) very thankful. After this initial reaction, however, my mother began what would be a very long journey in rec- onciling her love for her child with her deeply instilled religious beliefs. The first few years were very hard. My mother and I fought a lot. She cried a lot, and I yelled even more. Through all of it, though, we never stopped loving each other.

Over time, the yelling calmed into a dialogue. She allowed herself to meet my girlfriend. Our conversations progressed, and she began to ask me questions. Slowly, girlfriends were invited over for dinner, and my mother and I found common ground amid differing beliefs.

The thing about coming out is that it isn’t one moment at a Thanksgiving dinner table. It is a process that takes patience, understanding, and com- passion. It is different for everyone. All we can do is share as much of ourselves as we feel comfortable with and work diligently at accepting who we are, with or without the understanding of those around us.

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