During Pride Month, Emily Perper will be sharing stories from the LGBTQ community. This reading list is about the experiences of queer people of faith.
My city was one of many to hold a vigil in memory of the innocent lost to hatred and violence in Orlando a week ago. Christian, Jewish and Muslim community leaders spoke, one after the other, rallying the crowd into a frenzy of love. We lit candles and sang and prayed and cried. It did not resurrect 49 people.
I will be frank: I do not know how to live in the wake of this nightmare. I do not think I will ever feel normal again. As the poet Anne Carson puts it, “I felt as though the sky was torn off my life. I had no home in goodness anymore.” I stood on the steps of our police-protected vigil with my candle, afraid a hate-filled bullet would pierce the back of my skull. And if I, a white person, feel this afraid, then I cannot even begin to imagine what queer people of color, including queer Muslims, are feeling. I have included several of their stories in the list below. They need to be heard, loud and clear and often.
I’ve also included an interview with queer Hebrew priestess Rebekah Erev and an interview with bisexual Christian activist Eliel Cruz. Because of my work with youth in interfaith dialogue, I wanted to include representation from other Abrahamic religions. Queer people of all faith traditions deserve to know that they are not alone and that they are loved. Read more…
Catholicism and conservatism on the Supreme Court: “The Constitution that I interpret and apply,” Scalia wrote in 2002, “is not living but dead — or, as I prefer to put it, enduring.”
I want to say something, something that indicates I’m not staring because I’m not familiar with how she chooses to cover herself. Something that indicates that my mother dresses like her. That I grew up in an Arab state touching the Persian Gulf where the majority dresses like her. That I also face East and recite Quran when I pray.
“Should I greet her with A’salamu alaikum?” I ask myself. Then I look at what I picked out to wear on this day. A pair of distressed denim short shorts, a button-down Oxford shirt, and sandals. My hair is a big, curly entity on top of my head; still air-drying after my morning shower. Then I remember my two nose rings, one hugging my right nostril, the other snugly hanging around my septum.
I am a practicing Muslim. I pray (sometimes), fast, recite the travel supplication before I start my car’s engine, pay my zakkah (an annual charitable practice that is obligatory for all that can afford it) and, most importantly, I feel very Muslim. There are many like me. We don’t believe in a monolithic practice of Islam. We love Islam, and because we love it so much we refuse to reduce it to an inflexible and fossilized way of life. Yet we still don’t fit anywhere. We’re more comfortable passing for non-Muslims, if it saves us from one or more of the following: unsolicited warnings about the kind punishment that awaits us in hell, unwelcomed advice from a stranger that starts with “I am like your [insert relative],” or an impromptu lecture, straight out of a Wahhabi textbook I thought was nonsense at age 13.
— I admire author Thanaa El-Naggar for staking a place for herself in her faith, despite opposition from conservative adherents and ignorant detractors. Read more of “Practicing Islam in Short Shorts” at Gawker True Stories.
I want to honor the stories of women who left religion (the Christian faith, in particular), and these are four thoughtful, poetic meditations.
Deconversion isn’t easy. There’s backlash from family—confusion, anger, shame. It’s something I think about during the holiday season, especially. Christmastime can feel like an inundation of traditions left behind. In the world I grew up in, there were Advent Sundays and Christmas Eve services (five, actually) and cantatas and caroling. It was beautiful, and I still cherish many of those traditions. Deconversion is different for everyone. It’s a slow coming-of-age, or an existential crisis, or post-traumatic stress disorder, or none of those things. Today, I want to honor the stories of women who left religion (the Christian faith, in particular), and these are four thoughtful, poetic meditations.
1. “Why I Miss Being a Born-Again Christian.” (Jessica Misener, BuzzFeed, May 2014)
Most people know the Universal Life Church as a quick and easy place to get ordained without leaving your couch. But the history of the church, which emerged in the late ’60s, is far more complicated—and fascinating.
This week, I’ve compiled four pieces about the intersection of religion, mental illness, safe spaces and alternative caregiving.