Photographers take portraits to share the stories of gay muslims.

Lia Darjes is neither gay nor Muslim. She had to persuade many gay Muslims in order to earn their trust, to learn about their personal struggles, for her photo project, “Being Queer. Feeling Muslim.” According to her, two of the most private things about a person is his/her sexuality, and religion. For them to open up to you, you really have to convince them that you come as an outsider.

El-Farouk and Troy, one of the gay Muslim couples that Darjes interviewed, lives in Toronto. According to El-Farouk, he and his husband are in a happy place right now, but the journey to that place has been difficult. A lot of people like him suffers through spiritual violence during the initial phase of their life, where they are told that they are not normal, that there is something deeply and profoundly wrong with them. This prompts a lot of people to leave the religion. While others and their connection to Islam become very unhealthy.

Over time, he found harmony with his spirituality and sexuality. He did this by seeing homosexual people belonging to a particular nation/tribe that Allah created. In the Quran, verse 49.13 says, Allah created human beings to different nations and tribes so that they may know and learn from each other.

Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, an openly gay imam that Darjes interviewed in Paris, says that being gay, Arabic, and a Muslim, and thus a member of various minority groups helped him to see things in perspective. In order to fight homophobia, a Muslim has to know more about Islam and understand about himself/herself.

Openly gay imam in the United States, he understands the turmoil of gay Muslims. In creation, there is already a great diversity. Allah has demonstrated this. Do people respect that, is the question?

In Iran, homosexuality is a capital crime, punishable by death. According to Samira, who was born in Iran, her family had to leave the country when the Islamic Revolution began, in the year 1979. Immigrating to Canada helped her to grow up pretty secular.

There is a constant debate that is still going on about the acceptability of homosexuality in Islam. Only a few Muslim-majority nations in the world are tolerant toward the LGBT community.

According to Darjes, the LGBT communities today are more defiant, and its members possess a more positive outlook.

Samra Habib is another photographer, who has recently documented the lives of LGBT people. Her photography project, Just Me and Allah, focuses on the lives of gay Muslims in Europe and North America. Unlike Lia Darjes, Samra Habib is a Muslim, and she is also a homosexual person. According to her, in the wake of the Orlando Massacre, there is a need to listen to gay Muslims.

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