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South Africa’s Open Mosque : Media, Feminist Critiques and “Unopen” Mosques. →

The past month has been controversy ridden for the South African Muslim community, as news of the inauguration of the ‘Open Mosque’ in Cape Town has forced Muslims to tackle issues of gender equality, sexual orientation and religious freedom.

Community radio stations, national broadcasters, newspapers and social media have been abuzz with news of the Open Mosque, covering everything from the protests and backlash against such an idea and death threats against the founder, to the alleged closure of the mosque due to zoning regulations and, most recently, an arson attack on the building. This tiny little warehouse structure received coverage from theHuffington Post and BBC! Whilst this is not the focus of this article, I must state that I find the vindictive and violent responses from within the Muslim community to the opening of a place of worship – regardless of its ideology and orientation – extremely reprehensible.

The Open Mosque – proclaiming to be a Quran-centric, gender-equal, non-sectarian place of worship, headed by U.K-based Taj Hargey, sounds great on paper – but Muslim feminists across South Africa have taken issue with Hargey’s new establishment. It is this powerful narrative that emerged in the mainstream media that I would like to focus on – wherein Muslim women challenged and critiqued the Open Mosque. At least four such articles written by Muslim women appeared in reputable and widely read South African publications, tackling the issue of women’s access and inclusion in mosques, gender equality and community cohesion.

Like these women, who are friends and mentors, and as a Muslim woman deeply engaged in the gender justice discourse, I too see this issue as an opening, an opportunity to engage on the issue of the current mosque structures in South Africa – as we have seen many ulema (religious scholars) and community leaders come out to declare that ‘all mosques are in fact open’, seemingly rendering the concept of the Open Mosque in Cape Town defunct.

I have no affiliation or affinity to this new Open Mosque, because I find the assumptions and attitudes of its founder very problematic. At the same time, members of the clergy who have been responding to Hargey’s self-styled mosque revolution have been making claims that are also untrue – that ‘all mosques are open’. Indeed, as a Muslim male worshipper, regardless of your sexuality, Muslim school of thought or sect, you will be admitted into any mosque due to the privilege of simply being male. However, as a woman, this is not the case – your access to mosques will be restrictedto side entrances, small over-crowded spacesalienation from the main prayer hall (in some cases without even auditory access) and in worst case scenarios – you will haveno access at all and simply be turned away.

The first article by a Muslim woman that appeared in the media was by community activist and journalist Farhana Ismail, who precisely challenged these conversations playing themselves out in the media in which ulema were claiming that ‘all mosques are open’. Ismail writes:Whilst women’s facilities have improved in the last decade, particularly with the establishment of mosques in affluent suburbs, women are still regularly discouraged from attending, cannot serve on the boards and committees of these institutions or have a voice in these spaces. This is in addition to frequently hearing messages from the pulpit that designate women as merely sexual that men become helpless to resist, or messages that a woman’s ‘place’ is in the home and that her role in society cannot extend beyond wife and mother. The men in charge of these spaces certainly do not make mosque visits for women pleasant or spiritually uplifting experiences, as the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) did – and yet, incidentally, it is the Prophet that theulema keep claiming we have to follow, in their responses in the media to Hargey.

“What is interesting, though, is the response the open mosque story has elicited, particularly from a senior member of the Johannesburg-based Council of Muslim Theologians, Maulana Ebrahim Bham …

In an interview with Steven Grootes on radio this week, Bham was asked to comment on the statement by the founder of the Open Mosque, Taj Hargey, that the Qur’an does not say that men and women should worship separately. Referring to the two sources of Islamic teachings, the Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), Bham said: “The Qur’an tells us to do whatever the Prophet tells you to and whatever the Prophet prohibits you from, then stay away from it.”

Ironically, the argument that he uses is the same one those of us who hail from the trenches of the gender jihad have always used to insist on women’s inclusion and equal participation in mosques and Eid prayer spaces. In a sense, Bham made our case for us …

There certainly appears to be a mismatch between, on the one hand, Bham’s implied contention that all mosques in South Africa are Qur’an-centric and “open” and, on the other hand, Muslim women’s lived realities within and at the gates of these sacred spaces.”

In the second article, academic and lecturer, Dr Fatima Seedat, tackled Hargey’s condescending positions and his lack of community dialogue, in addition to tackling how our mosques operate:

“Unfortunately, while the real issue is exclusive mosque spaces, we’re talking about Hargey. His combative approach makes it clear that Hargey doesn’t know how to deal with difference without giving offence. In fact his suggestions that local Muslims are too dumb to think independently or to challenge the ulama with ‘matric qualifications’ smacks of a colonial arrogance that swoops in from afar to show the locals how to conduct their revolution …

But it’s not unusual for women’s issues to be handled in this way. It reflects a form of patriarchy that takes on women’s issues in the name of women but without involving women in the biggest decisions, and in Hargey’s case, with little concern for the impact on gender work already under way locally.”

For me, Seedat’s most important point remains:

“Without pandering to power elites, successful social transformation requires an approach that promotes social cohesion even as it advocates a radical break with patriarchal tradition.”

This is exactly what the Open Mosque does not do – in a particularly offensive statement, Hargey claimed, “The women will no longer make samoosas – they will make the decisions” … dismissing decades of gender activism and scholarship by Muslim women, not only in religious life, but in the political and social landscape of South Africa in general! Given that Hargey has been largely absent from the South African Muslim community for the last few decades, it is not surprising that his initiative was not met with excitement by Muslim activists and community in general – his approach was to come in and simply launch a mosque, inject the community with news deliberately meant to create various levels of shock and horror, attack all members of the clergy and all Muslims who have working relationship with them, and furthermore engage in no dialogue with communities. Any venture that seeks to redress issues of injustice cannot be undertaken without creating the appropriate discourse around the issues one wishes to fix.

In the third article, a moving reflective piece by a writer and convert to Islam, Hajira Amla shared her mosque experiences in South Africa, in light of all the debates created by the Open Mosque.

“As a fair-skinned convert, I’ve resigned myself to the cold or curious stares of others on the occasions when I have attended mosque … When I got married to my husband in 2008, I wanted to know if my parents would be able to come for the nikkah (marriage ceremony) at the Sultan Bahu mosque in Mayfair, Johannesburg. The Imam informed me that the women’s gallery, where the nikkah was to take place, was “not consecrated as part of the mosque” so non-Muslims could come to witness the ceremony. The revelation rankled. Why then should women even bother to come to these non-consecrated spaces?”

The most recent critique of the Open Mosque comes from influential Muslim feminist intellectual and scholar Dr Sa’diyya Shaikh; the piece is co-authored with social activist Shuaib Manjra. They discuss the problematic discourse propelled by Hargey, delving into the numerous contradictions in his claims to support and promote gender equality (including his support for the Burka ban in the U.K). The article describes Hargey’s approach as ‘sensationalist sound bites that sound superficially progressive but are in fact disrespectful, dismissive, degrading and disempowering.’ The article is extensive and deals with a number of Hargey’s claims, and his lack of consultation,

“… it is crucial to ask where in Hargey’s purportedly democratic vision of inclusivity is there any evidence of consultation with heterosexual women and queer communities, those marginalised Muslim constituencies that he claims to represent. Hargey’s very loud presence in the media is starkly contrasted with a complete lack of any public support from the gay, lesbian and women’s groups for his project. This is demonstrated by the extremely poor attendance at his mosque. This lack of public support is not due to fear since these activist groups have publicly operated for many years.”

I found it very powerful to have all the pieces in our mainstream media, challenging patriarchy, whether disguised or not, by Muslim women. All of these articles give credence to the community activism that has, for decades, been pushing for further access and inclusion of women in mosques. Three of the articles mention two of South Africa’s most progressive institutions – Masjid ul-Islam in Johannesburg and Claremont Main Road Mosque in Cape Town. These mosques regularly have women speakers for Friday prayers as well as other programs (for example: throughout the month of Ramadan, I presentedtafsirbefore theTaraweehprayers); men and women have access to the main prayer hall, serve on the committees and are as much a part of the congregation as men.

As a member of the Masjid ul-Islam communityfor over eight years, I am surprised at the outcry that erupted over the Open Mosque – a venture that seems to be calling out for as much media attention as possible to itself and its founder. Hargey comes across as an intolerant person for someone who claims to be so ‘open’. His dismissal of the entire Muslim community, and his rather colonialist mindset that Muslim women need to be saved from the oppressive clergy by himself, are patronizing, to say the least, for many of us who have for years been active agents of our own liberation from patriarchal interpretations of religion.

As Muslims all over the world marked the end of the Hajj pilgrimage, which culminated inEid al-Adha, a day of feasting and celebration, on Sunday 5 October, it was a good time to reflect inwardly on the state of our sacred spaces as a Muslim community. Whilst Hargey invited women to his Eid prayers in his signature condescending manner, hundreds of other prayer gatherings across the country were in fact ‘closed,’ excluding women from this very significant communal ritual. However, some gatherings were ‘open’ – I have mentioned at least two of them – a process that has taken decades, much sacrifice and vision to create, and where participants go about their worship, community building, interfaith solidarity and social justice programs with much less attention seeking and intolerance than this latest venture.

H/T: kawrage

— 5 days ago with 11 notes

#South Africa  #Islam  #gender  #sexuality  #queer  #LGBT  #gender and Islam  #sexuality and Islam  #religion  #sexuality and religion  #gender and religion  #Open Mosque  #Taj Hargey  #queer muslims  #women 
Why is The Advocate afraid to talk about Palestine? →

Click link for more. 

— 1 week ago with 43 notes

#The Advocate  #LGBT  #queer  #media  #Palestine  #Zionism  #colonialism  #Israel  #US  #politics  #Gaza  #intersectionality  #Pinkwashing  #Hamas 
"Now this Ebola epidemic can become a global pandemic and that’s another name for plague. It may be the great attitude adjustment that I believe is coming. Ebola could solve America’s problems with atheism, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, pornography and abortion. If Ebola becomes a global plague, you better make sure the blood of Jesus is upon you, you better make sure you have been marked by the angels so that you are protected by God. If not, you may be a candidate to meet the Grim Reaper."
— 2 months ago with 5 notes

#USA  #politics  #and 'The West' says WE are crazy?!?!?!?!?!?!  #queer  #gay  #lgbt  #right wing  #gross 
English Gay Slang Dictionary →
— 3 months ago with 5 notes

#lgbt  #english  #dictionary  #gay  #queer  #lgbt*  #homo  #language 

“Anthropologists,” the writer asserted, “would perhaps be better off just using ethnic labels in the analysis of cross-gender and sexual behaviour in other societies. Sufficient cross-cultural data are not yet available to make sound judgements as to how well Western clinical categories fit these behaviours in non-Western societies.”

This, in point of fact, seems to be not only a key problem in Wikan’s argument but also a key factor raising the temperature (and the stakes) in the exchange that it provoked. How possible is it to take a term like “transsexual,” coined in 1949 to describe the condition of certain European and Anglo-American men, and translate it back into a culture which had been closed to the outside world (by Wikan’s account) until 1971? What are the ideological and political implications of this cross-cultural labeling, and what if anything does it have to do with the constructed role of the Middle East itself as an “intermediate” zone, a place where pederasty, homosexuality, and transsexualism are all perceived (by Western observers) as viable options?

From The Transgender Studies Reader, pg. 650.

(Source: brassmanticore)

— 3 months ago with 45 notes

#sexuality  #identity  #identity politics  #gender  #gay  #queer  #lgbt  #trans  #north atlantic hegemony  #indegenous 
Vultures over Iran: The Human Rights Campaign follows the money →


— 3 months ago with 8 notes

#scott long  #iran  #usa  #politics  #hrc  #queer  #gay  #lgbt 
Too brown to be heard: The Brunei brouhaha →


Might I suggest you read the whole thing.

— 4 months ago with 13 notes

#lgbt  #lgbtq  #gay  #homo  #queer  #politics  #brunei  #homonationalism  #scott long  #beverly hills hotel  #USA  #shariah  #islam  #islamophobia  #gay international 
The issue behind Brunei

This whole issue around the reaction to Brunei’s adopting (a version of) Sharīʿa law troubles me for the following reasons, to name a few:

  • The biggest issue on the larger US and UK based LGBT* news portals and blogs seems to be the “stoning of the homosexuals”, this despite the fact that I have yet to see an article that discusses how the new laws will deal with the issue of same-sex intercourse (which is very different from homosexuality or other sex and gender-based political identities). They just assume it is so. That doesn’t mean it’s not there, or that the new law won’t deal with same sex-intercourse problematically, it’s just to say the assumption and the focus is interesting (what, no white voices concerned about saving Muslim women, anymore? and why was there no focus on religion when, for example, India revered its ruling forbidding same-sex with a person of the same gender?)
  • You cannot take the power dynamics of colonialism and empire out of the equation. Especially with the recent push to include sexual identity politics as gauges for how civilized a people are. The old Euro-American colonial trope of : “they” are not civilized like “us” because “they” don’t do/observe X like we do. It is embedded in this. So much so that it dismisses how certain laws have come to be in the first place. This is exemplified by Fareed Zakariyya’s comment on CNN saying something about “abandoning the BRITISH-based legal system currently in force.”
  • In addition, Islamophobia is used as a basis for this attack. How many times will I hear/see quotes about “going back to the stone ages”? (see here for example.) Islam is backwards. Sharīʿa is backwards. “We” are enlightened and inclusive and the future, while Islamic practices and rituals are historical, misguided, and dangerous.
  • As part of the above, there is a COMPLETE disregard to the fact that the majority of the World’s legal system and the UN’s charters are based on Christian-European legal systems! How can you claim secularism when the laws you have on your books are, if not outrightly claimed as such, are inherently based on a European Christian interpretations of law. “Civil” or “secular” law didn’t just show up, they are firmly based on a European-Christian history and locality. Thus making it neither “better” than, nor “more neutral” than other systems. It is equal in its strengths and weaknesses.
  • All of the above is placed within the following context: where the small in numbers, yet powerful enforce their hegemonic version of a world that conforms and obeys to what they are comfortable with upon everyone and sells it as both “universal” and “without bias”… neither of which are true. This ends up doing very real violence. 
  • The dominant North Atlantic sexual minorities are part and parcel of Empire and Colonialsim. One could say this type of rhetoric does to the colonized what they accuse heteronormativity does to them. It does so because it is backed by laws and sanctions that do more than simply target the problem.
  • They also focus on one thing: sexuality, compartmentalizing it and emphasizing it while ignoring other serious issues such as: wealth distribution, health issues, education, standards of living, environmental question, etc. That myopic look already reflects a North Atlantic bias to how the world is viewed: individualism. There are a plethora of other ways of interacting with the world, and singling one aspect without looking at the whole could be interpreted akin to trying to rid the arm of the flu while the rest of the body is still ill.

Hence the rhetoric is seeped in biases that re-enact and reenforce hegemonic Imperial colonial forces.

والله أعلم

— 5 months ago with 52 notes

#lgbt  #gay  #homo  #queer  #politics  #homocolonialism  #homonationalism  #colonialism  #Neo-Colonialism  #USA  #Europe  #north atlantic  #hegemony  #power  #Islam  #islamophobia  #Brunei  #shari'a  #empire 
Confessions of a Snow Queen: Owning Up to Our Racial Fetishisms


In Spring of 2011 I wrote and performed a poem “Tryna” expressing and owning up to my internalized racism and how it shapes my desire.

After performing this poem for the first time I had several queer people of color approach me and tell me in private that they, too, shared similar desires for whiteness, but had never felt comfortable articulating it publically. Curiously enough many of my white queer friends avoided eye contact with me after the poem and never brought it up again. Every time I perform this piece I get similar reactions.

In this piece I want to share my personal story of internalized racism and how this was and continues to be linked to my queer identity. It is my goal to use this piece as a starting piece for a collection of essays on race, queerness, and desire. In subsequent posts I want to address, in more detail, questions and strategies that I raise here.

Gay identity as a tactic of white supremacy

The mainstream gay narrative includes a story that begins with trauma, abjection, insecurity and ends with liberation, visibility, and confidence. We are asked: When did you know? When did you first figure out? And we respond with the stories they want to hear: we tell them about screaming “I’m gay” outside in the middle of the night, we tell them about sneaking looks in the locker room. But we do not tell them about the first time we were called a nigger. We do not tell them about how we refused to speak our native tongue at home. These stories, they elide histories of racial trauma that are not ancillary, but actual central to the construction of our queer identities. I want us to revisit our self-narratives and think about the role of race in their construction. I believe that race is, actually, always already implicated in these stories, even for white people.

Here’s mine.

 I have always been attracted to whiteness. I remember in kindergarten I would develop crushes on all the white boys in my class – those white boys who came from rich families with mothers who ran the parent-teacher organizations, those white boys who played little league baseball and joined Boy Scouts.

These were the days I would go home and ask my mother why we didn’t go to church. I would tell my grandmother to stop wearing saris and put on pants instead. These were the days I’d ask my parents why we weren’t like other families: why we didn’t eat steak for dinner, and watch football, and do the things that normal families do. Growing up I always felt inadequate and embarrassed by my brownness and my Hindu/South Asian culture. I would willingly attend Christian youth groups with my white friends and feel so much validation in their acceptance.

This attraction was, and continues to be, always about power. I wanted to be white so desperately because that meant I would finally be normal, finally be accepted. I admired the white boys in my kindergarten class because they had power, they had respect, they were beautiful.

At first I didn’t have the language to understand my feelings of Otherness and inadequacy. It was only after 9/11 that I was able to understand that I had a race. I remember it vividly: on September 12 my mother told me to be careful at school. My middle-school had an assembly in the gym. We were all instructed to wear white and blue and we gathered and sang the national anthem. I remember singing as loud as the rest, and I remember feeling part of something bigger than myself. I didn’t really understand what happened, but goddamnit I knew that I was American. I knew it in the same way my Hindu temple knew that it was a good idea to put an American flag on the back of our t-shirts: “God bless America / we will never forget September 11.” After the assembly a white classmate came up to me and asked me, “Why did your people do this to us?” And for the first time I felt the burden of brownness.

The truth is, at some level, I began to believe everything they said. I began to believe that I was not an American. I began to believe that my people were wrong. I began to believe that my people were ugly.

Coming into consciousness of my brownness occurred at the same time I began to come into awareness of my same-sex desire. It’s impossible for me to divorce these narratives – they have been, and will always be – interrelated. The boys I began to fantasize about were the same boys I wrote love letters to as a child, were the same boys I wanted to become so desperately. The boys – the men – I was sexually attracted to were the very white men who made me feel ugly, made me feel insignificant, made me feel worthless.

Awareness of my homosexuality arrived at the same time as consciousness of my racialization. In some ways, my homosexuality worked as a mechanism of my racial oppression and contributed to my feelings of racial inadequacy. Now, the very white men who degraded me felt sexy to me. My desire shackled me to white supremacy. As much as I wanted to love my brownness, my culture, my otherness – I became even more drawn, tantalized, and attracted to whiteness. As much as I resented and was bruised by the racial trauma inflicted by the white men around me, I found myself deeply attracted to them. I found myself accepting their insults, their stereotypes, their racialization – justifying it with my attraction to them.

When I ‘came out’ and began to consume gay discourses – pornography, blogs, movies, etc. – the depictions of gayness reified whiteness. Queer characters were almost always white, gay porn almost always included white men – unless it was explicitly marked as interracial or racial/fetish porn, etc. At first I didn’t mind this. In fact, I enjoyed it; I found these depictions of whiteness incredibly attractive. Now that I look back on it, consuming these discourses, coming out as ‘gay,’ and organizing within a traditional ‘gay rights’ framework made me happy because I felt like I was becoming white. Being ‘gay’ being part of a ‘gay’ community gave me an opportunity to escape from my race, gave me new connections to whiteness, new ways to intimately embrace it and experience its validation. As I began to get more involved with mainstream gay life, I found myself feeling less brown. I used language and identity-frameworks that were inaccessible to the South Asian community I grew up with (and was okay with that, because at least my white friends accepted me). I went to parties and political gatherings with mostly white people. I stopped talking and thinking about race, and fabricated a de-racinated narrative of queer oppression to fit in, to be part of the community.

 Racial Fetishism Within Queer Male Communities

Originally I thought that identifying as gay and participating in gay communities would make me feel more legitimate, more desirable, more affirmed by structures of whiteness. However, I soon realized that queer communities actually inflicted some of the most severe racial trauma for me.

My first significant relationship was with a South Asian woman my first year of high school – before I started actively identifying and participating in gay/queer communities. We shared our experiences with racial trauma, our experiences as diasporic South Asians, our anxieties about our Hindu religion in our small town and I began to develop erotic and romantic feelings for her. Our subsequent four-year relationship was perhaps the most important development in my project of racial liberation. Through her I began to feel beauty in brownness. Looking back, I was less attracted to her gender, and more attracted to her race. Typical heterosexual narratives that suggest that men enter relationships with the ‘opposite’ gender and rely on a difference model did not align well here. Rather, I was attracted to her because of our mutual sameness.

 In all of my subsequent relationships and interactions with (white) men, I have been unable to experience this sense of solidarity, of kinship, of sameness. Mainstream narratives of homosexuality conceptualize it as ‘same-sex’ desire: we hear stories about how men know how to please other men better because they have a penis. We hear how same-sex relationships are more functional because both parties “get one another.” These narratives, as is the case with most gay narratives, do not map well on queer of color experience like my own. All of my relationships with (white) men have felt much more conflicted, racially charged, and based on a paradigm of ‘opposites.’ Embracing a white male body never feels comfortable, natural, same. It feels foreign, exotic, opposite.

 As I began to participate in white gay communities I recognized that what attracted to me to these boys – what had always attracted me to whiteness – was its difference from me. Whiteness was a commodity, a property that I didn’t own and was systematically denied. I wanted to be with white guys because I was attracted to the power, to their foreignness, to the thrill of difference. I found myself turning down incredibly charming and political queer boys of color, because I just didn’t get the same power trip, the same attraction to them. I found myself pursuing the most problematic, the most racist and obnoxious white boys, just because their otherness was that desirable.

 My early and uncritical experiences with white men reminded me that I can never have access to this cultural capital, that I will always be brown, no matter how much queer communities profess to be ‘one.’ I began to realize the extreme racism and colorism that governs much of queer male life: the lighter you are, the more attractive you are. The darker you are, the more likely you are to be friend-zoned.

 The majority of the times I found myself incredible invisible to the white queer gaze. I met white boys with dating profiles: “No Asians / No Fems.” Sexual racism like this was rarely as explicit, it manifested itself in more silent and pernicious ways: always being the ‘friend’ and never anything more, etc. When I would confront my white queer friends about why they didn’t date other boys of color they’d often say things like: “I don’t see race – get over it, it’s not important!” And though they would often profess liberal and anti-racist politics, they would still only sleep with and date other white men. When I began to meet white queer men who were or experienced intimate relations across the color lines they would often say that race wasn’t central to their desire or relationship. The idea was that being gay already involved transgressing one taboo, why not jump over another?

 Those white queer men who did express interest often articulated it in ways that were just as problematic, just in a reverse direction. One white boy told me that he had always wanted to be with a brown man. He told me that I felt like a real man. And, at the time, I loved it. For the first time in my life I experienced validation from the very body that taunted me growing up. When he embraced me I felt like America taking me back again, I felt worthy, I felt normal. In that small encounter I experienced a tremendous range of trauma and emotion. I performed my race – in its most bastardized forms – for him so that I could obtain his acceptance. In subsequent relationships I experienced similar hyper-fetishization – experiences where my brownness was central to a white man’s attraction to me. It manifested itself in sometimes subtle ways – comments on my rugged masculinity (gesturing to histories of associations with bodies of color and primitive animality), cloaked racist sayings like all South Asians are so sexy).

 In all of these experiences – the ones where I was hyper invisible and hyper visible – one theme remained constant: I was always reduced to my race. My race was the primary basis of my desireability or undesireability. I never was able to enter interactions where my race was not salient – the paradigm established was that I was always the one with ‘the race,’ while whiteness remained unmarked, uncontested.

 Thus, ironically, even though I expected my homosexuality to integrate me into a community that made me finally feel part of something bigger than myself again (after becoming an outcast in a post 9/11 nationalist American), I actually began to feel even more brown, even more violently racialized.

After severally racially charged experiences with white men I found myself in some of the deepest and most visceral racial trauma of my life. I found myself predicating my very self-worth, my integrity, on validation by white men. It didn’t matter how many people of color were attracted to me, only white guys counted. It didn’t matter to me how successful I was in school or how wonderful of an activist I was, only validation by white men could make me happy.

 The Limits of Queer Epistemologies: Ways Forward

 I soon recognized that the ways I, uncritically, desired whiteness were destructive to my political and emotional liberation. I began to read a lot more critical race theory, post-colonial theory, and think much more about white supremacy and how queer projects are complicit in it. I am now committed to decolonizing the intimacy I participate in – to disarticulating my attraction from the imprint of my oppression and envisioning alternative and radical ways to feel, relate, and engage with whiteness.

 I am extremely skeptical of the race neutrality of the majority of queer/gender/sexuality desire. I strongly disapprove of the way that queer communities and individuals organize, fuck, art, envision, and grow together in ways that don’t address racial difference. My experiences with internalized racism have given me the privilege to see how race can actually become central to our desire and politics. Here are some ways that I’ve been thinking about this:

 1. Our Sexual Identity Frameworks are already racist. We need to stop relying on a framework of sexual identity that anchors our attraction to ‘sex.’ Currently the only way that we think of sexual identity is in terms of what gender/sex’s we are attracted to. The only discourse I had access to growing up told me that I was “gay” because I was attracted to (some) men. However, it makes no sense for me to identify as ‘gay.’  Identifying as gay would mean that I am a man attracted to other men. But the truth is I am not attracted to all men. I am attracted to a very particular type of racialized, classed, gendered, etc. masculinity. Current frameworks of sexual identity assume that ‘men’ and ‘women’ exist as stable categories and elide racial and other differences among men and women. The assumption here is that all men look the same, which is obviously not the case. Using this framework, white man can identify as gay but still only be intimate with other white men. Gay becomes a way in which we can cloak our racisms, rather than make them central to the way that we articulate our desires. We need a more complex way to relate our sexual proclivities and histories to one another. We need a language that acknowledges the multiple vectors that we come to fetishize. In my case, my desire and identities have been more oriented around race, than sex/gender

 2. Our sexual desires themselves are already racist. As a queer body of color I have not had the privilege to disassociate my attraction from my oppression. The people I am most attracted to are the people I have been told to be attracted to. Our society – through media, and other discourse – valorizes particular expressions of white and masculine identity. These images have been ingrained into me to the point that I often have to question whether I am attracted to an individual for them, or for their whiteness - whether I am attracted to an individual, or a system. I am troubled by a paradigm that locates minority bodies as the only bodies that experience attraction this way. The fact is that all desires are implicated within racist, classist, colonial, etc. systems and circuits of desire – it’s just for some of us this is more salient. We must think critically about the nature of our desires and how to contest, unlearn, and re-imagine them.

 3. We need to talk more about the relationship between white supremacy and sexual politics: I have shown how my body of color has been implicated in a project of white supremacy. It is important that we move beyond a framework that suggests that white people are the only people who can be racist. The reality of the situation is that most of us are white supremacists. White supremacy is a pervasive, totalizing, and dominant ideology that becomes bolstered by all bodies – not just white bodies. I want us to think more about what our queer movements and radical sex movements are doing to contest white supremacy – or, rather, how they are becoming (or have always been) complicit with this ideology.

4. Attraction as already fetishistic: I believe that fetish-oriented models of sexuality are a way to allow us to talk about internalized racism and other prejudices in relation to our sexual desires. Inspired by queer psychoanalysts like Tim Dean, I’m interested in re-imagining all desire as fetishistic. What this means is that we are not born predisposed to any particular attraction. Rather, we develop our attractions. (ie the penis is not inherently attractive, it becomes attractive). This process of becoming attractive occurs within a white supremacist, patriarchal, prejudiced culture in which particular fetishes become normalized (ie white heterosexual intimacy) while others become seen as perverse (foot fetish, racial fetish, etc.). Talking about our desires as fetishes is productive because it helps us remember that our desires are protean, able to shift, change, and respond. It reminds us that we experience desire as individuals – that no group-oriented terms like ‘gay’ (or even queer people of color) can adequately describe the specificity of our desire.

5. Gay rights/advocacy is not a queer project. Within a narrow-issue gay politic, I could excuse myself of my internalized racism and focus on my same-sex intimacy as already inherently radical. This isn’t sufficient. I think the power of a queer project lies in its ability and acknowledgement that our desires are political and that our intimacies are microcosms of the Revolution. A queer project involves unlearning our identities and attractions, disarticulating our racial fetishes and allowing ourselves to be attracted to all races. A queer project makes us be more critical of the way that we have conflated homosexuality as inherently transgressive. Isn’t predominant attraction to men or women implicated within structures of sexism and patriarchy? Queer desiring men need to think more about how our lack of attraction to women is related to and contributes to misogynist interpretations of the female body. Queering our desires involves opening ourselves to new types of intimacies, new types of consensual pleasures, with all types of identities. We are not yet queer, we aspire to queerness – and as part of that project we have to learn how to expand our desires and make them more empathetic, embracing, and radical for all.

— 7 months ago with 819 notes

#h/t:  #kawrage  #lgbt  #gay  #queer  #sexuality  #sexual identity  #homosexuality  #politics  #hegemony  #race 
From an article on two Arizona bills “that would allow businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians on religious grounds.”

The proposed law is so poorly crafted it could allow a Muslim taxi driver to refuse service to a woman traveling alone.

i.e. These bills are so preposterous in our eyes, let us use Muslim stereotypes that offend normative North Atlantic sensibilities (including, but not limited to, liberal: WOMEN, and conservative: ISLAM) to make our point.

And this is how you perpetuate “The Other.”

Edit: This is the definition of homonationalism…


— 8 months ago with 60 notes

#Islam  #Muslim  #USA  #politics  #islamophobia  #gay  #lgbt  #queer  #homonormativity  #Arizona  #gender  #women  #sterotypes  #religion  #homonationalism 

Help Queer Arab Poets Get to Washington, D.C. !!!

For …

SPLIT THIS ROCK Poetry Festival
Group Reading & Workshop:
Struggle, Resilience & Transformation: Queer Arabs in the Diaspora
Andrea Assaf, Janine Mogannam, Amir Rabiyah
2 PM, March 29 @ Human Rights Campaign, Room 2

We are a diverse group of queer and gender fabulous Arab and Arab American poets, artists and activists, holding different religions, nationalities and migration stories, who have been invited to present at Split This Rock, the nation’s premier social justice focused poetry festival!

At Split This Rock, in addition to performing our poetry, we are committed to facilitating inclusive dialogue, fostering creativity, and holding an affirming space for people living on the intersections of race, class, disabilities, gender, sexuality, war, and immigration.

As queer and gender non-conforming Arabs, we want to represent ourselves, since we often are spoken for. Split This Rock is a great opportunity to connect with and support other artists who want to tell their own stories through poetry.

What We Need & What You Get:

We are asking you, our community, for your support. We need to raise $5000 by March 20 to make this trip happen. Fabulous Perks! No contribution is too small!

Your contributions will go toward airfare, transportation, housing, and festival registration, as well as artists’ fees and a small per diem for food and other associated costs.

The Impact
As queer Arabs / Arab Americans, many people and institutions attempt to speak for us. As people with a broad spectrum of identities, we often move through society with parts of ourselves made hyper-visible, and others invisible. At Split This Rock we will share our stories from our own perspectives and experiences. Through the sharing of our poetry and the questions we wrestle with in our lives and creative work, we hope to connect with folks from many varied communities, including other artists of color, queer folks and allies.
Many of us share similar histories of negotiating multiple identities, colonization, intersecting oppressions and displacements. Our presentation will create a space for participants to reflect on their own histories and identities. Through this collective act of witnessing, and shared reflection, we hope to build a sense of compassion and connection between us and all attendees, which we will bring back with us into our communities as we work towards recognition and social justice.

Please spread the word. Your support will help make this trip, reading & workshop possible!

— 8 months ago with 24 notes

#h/t:  #kawrage  #queer  #lgbt  #gay  #arab  #queer arab  #queer arabs  #Arab American  #arab americans