“You live your life in silence.”Tension between observant faith and sexual identity is not unique to Muslims. Merchant, who now works in finance in Los Angeles, is a member.“We gather regularly as gay Muslims,” he told me, as he fasted during Ramadan. When you’re born into this world as a Muslim, you are given a set of personal struggles. “Trembling before G-d,” a 2001 documentary, probed the individual traumas of gay Orthodox Jews, whose religion proscribes homosexuality, a prohibition based on Leviticus. “At the beginning, we ask why God has cursed us with this identity. I was marching in a gay-pride parade in Washington five or six years ago.Naveed Merchant, years after his suicide attempt, sees his own identity crisis reflected in Mateen’s life. He came to the United States in 2000, but still faces discrimination.“I carried a lot of guilt around for a long time.” The fact that his mother had cancer seemed beside the point. “We also have to deal with Islamophobia.” She went on, “But we have struggles with the mainstream L. “He might have been homosexual himself and lived that lifestyle but could never ever come clean about it, because of the standards of his father, because of the obligation to be a perfect son.” A former classmate said that he had accompanied Mateen to gay night clubs.Reconciling his Muslim and gay identities has consumed him ever since. Pulse patrons had seen him drinking at the club on earlier occasions. As Muneer Ahmad, a professor at Yale Law School, put it, “For those of us who are gay and Muslim, we must choose between entering the mosque and exiting the closet.”Sharma, the filmmaker, grew up twenty minutes from the Darul Uloom, an important center of Islamic learning in Uttar Pradesh, in northern India.
“I can only imagine the conflict he felt, creating depression that, unfortunately in his case, turned into violence expressed outward rather than violence turned inward, as it did with me.”Whether or not Mateen was gay, many L. “You can’t imagine the kind of sermons I’ve heard.”Sharma has responded to the challenges and contradictions by making documentaries.In the film, Hendricks asks one of his daughters how she would react if other Muslims sought to punish him. And what better way to get closer to God than through loving people?She answers, “I would look them in the eye and say, ‘Oh, don’t let my daddy feel this, and just let him die with the first stone.’ ”“The one thing I learned while making ‘A Jihad for Love’ is that it’s still ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ in the Muslim world,” Sharma told me. “But the struggle was not over just because I told them I was gay,” he recalled, two decades later. The sense that Muslims are terrorists—that framing—can also be found in the L. Homosexuality among Muslims themselves, however, has “a cultural stigma,” Abdullah said.“I believed that I brought enormous shame on my family and that I’d never amount to anything—and so I should just die. “Few are willing to talk publicly.” The imam, who has been out for forty-five years, said he knows of only eight Muslim clerics around the world who are openly gay.