ILGA » ILGA North America » LGBTQ Muslims: A Diverse, Dynamic and Confident Community


Filter by Show me news ›

LGBTQ Muslims: A Diverse, Dynamic and Confident Community

On Friday May 31, 2013, the Washington Post published an article about a retreat for LGBTQ Muslims and their partners that had taken place the weekend before. Along with five other individuals who were present at the retreat, the article included a section about me. Amidst positive reactions coming my way from friends and long lost acquaintances, I struggle with my own mixed reaction to the article.

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

23rd June 2013 12:08

Alessia Valenza | ILGA North America

For a community whose identities, needs, and struggles are too often invisible within society, it is indeed a cause for celebration to be featured by a high profile media outlet. Yet, I worry that the article misrepresented me, and presented the LGBTQ Muslim community and the LGBTQ Muslim Retreat through a narrow lens.

The title of the section about me, "The Immigrant Experience," felt misleading. While I feel connected to the immigrant experience, that phrase does not accurately capture my identity or my experience. My father is from Somalia and my mother is a white American whose family has been in the United States for many generations. Though I was born in Somalia, I was born a United States citizen. This, along with the fact that English is my mother’s primary language and that she was raised to navigate American society, has privileged me in a way that most immigrants and first generation Americans do not experience.

I want to make clear: when I speak of the challenges of being a refugee, I include the experiences of many of my Somali family members, but not my own.

Read more