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“the ethnic gay story”
A lesson before Ramadan
Ramadan Mubarak! 🌙 🤲🏼 📿 I love the possibilities of Ramadan. We make intentional space for close listening, quality time, reflection, and community building. For me, it’s been a time when I see more gentleness and openness towards bids for connection.
Things helping me figure shit out:
🌙 A few weeks ago a my friend Hishaam and I caught up over lunch. He told me he was getting ready for a family trip to perform Umrah. This would be his second time. In 2018, following his first trip, Hishaam wrote a powerful essay, “How a Pilgrimage to Mecca Helped Me Embrace My Queer Muslim Identity.” *a pause here for you to go read it* What I love about Hishaam’s writing is that he avoids what Kai Cheng Thom calls “the ethnic gay story.”
🌙 In her essay “Rediscovering Identity at My Grandfather’s Funeral: An Ethnic Trans Story,” Kai Cheng Thom explains how, “liberal white people love the ethnic gay story.” The stories she’s referring to are the ones that end with us alienated from our culture and families to “find ourselves.” These stories demonize any experience that deviates from Western culture. Kai Cheng says it perfectly: “What the ethnic gay story misses is that the queer children of diaspora are not the passive victims of our villainous, ignorant families.; or at least, not in the way that whiteness likes to imagine us. Our relationships with our blood, our selves, are more complicated than that.”
🌙 “The ethnic gay story” tells us we can’t exist. But we do. Hishaam writes about the moment he gave himself permission to be and how in that moment being himself brought him closer to God. It’s less “#BornThisWay” and more “Of course I have a relationship with the Divine.”
🌙 My friends are phenomenal. Each time we grant ourselves permission to be whole, we create new possibility models for each other.
As always, sending you love.
*If you’re in LA don’t miss VL’s Bridging Communities Eid Iftar
Between Ann Freidman’s decade of practicing & disapproval matrix and Hiba’s suggestion that I might already be writing my book - I am flirting with the idea of writing to ya’ll bi-weekly. Or even weekly! The rhythm and deadline of these little letters has been good for me. We’ll see what happens. Until then, here’s another playlist.
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