Asexuality & Muslim Communities

My Intersectional Identities: LGBTQ Muslim Reflections on the Orlando Shootings

This post was originally published at Patheos altmuslim.

As I let myself into my apartment, the clock showed 1 a.m. A sister at the mosque had just dropped me off at home after tarawih – two hours of prayer on these Ramadan nights. I have a strict rule not to check social media or messages during the night unless it’s a family emergency, so I was unaware a major news story was breaking in Orlando, Florida, at that hour.

Instead, I had a bit to eat and drink, made sure everything was ready for the pre-dawn meal, offered my pre-bedtime dhikrs (remembrance of Allah), and settled in bed to rest for about half an hour. Then it was up again to pray and eat, start my fast at 3 a.m sharp, and offer the fajr dawn prayer.

Grateful that it was a Sunday and I didn’t have to work, I went back to bed and slept in late, finally waking around 11 a.m. In the 12 hours since I’d last checked anything online, an Afghan-American Muslim named Omar Mateen had opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 people and wounding dozens more.

My first inkling of this was an email from a Muslim crisis response list that was waiting in my inbox.

As I scanned news headlines, my insides twisted with the complex tangle of emotions I always feel after a major terrorist incident. Sadness and grief for the victims. Anger – and often also despair and hopelessness — at yet another extremist hijacking and perverting our religion. Fear of backlash against Muslims.

Guilt too, sometimes, at not being able to focus only on the victims and their tragedy.

But as the true scope of the Orlando shootings and their homophobic motivation became clea,r and as I watched responses from American Muslim groups, LGBTQ groups and right-wing politicians, a wave of new emotions hit me.

I’m asexual, meaning I don’t experience sexual attraction to anyone and am not interested in sex. Because of how my asexuality has marginalized me in society and in Muslim spaces, because of how Islamic orthodoxy would mark me as deviant and worthy of punishment if I married and because I’m emotionally and relationally oriented towards other women, I identify as queer – outside of heterosexual norms – and consider myself to be part of the larger LGBTQ community.

In the wake of the massacre in the Pulse nightclub, two key parts of my identity – my Islam and my queerness – seemed at war. Not in myself – to me, my Islam and my queerness are intertwined in a whole, integral identity – but as others sought to tear me apart.

I watched Muslim leaders and groups talk as if Muslim and LGBTQ were mutually exclusive groups. I noticed who edged around the LGBTQ identity of the Pulse nightclub victims and who was completely silent as if this was any other shooting and these were any other victims. Online, as I tweeted about the intersection of Muslim and LGBTQ identity, I received homophobic messages from self-identified Muslims.

I watched LGBTQ leaders and groups also talk as if LGBTQ and Muslim were mutually exclusive groups. I saw sweeping generalizations about LGBTQ experiences that left no space for me as a devout Muslim. Not all of us were out clubbing Saturday night. Some of us were at the mosque, praying tarawih after breaking our Ramadan fast.

And, I watched right-wing politicians – many of whom had been promoting anti-LGBTQ laws just the previous day – using the Orlando shootings to depict Islam as uniquely homophobic and violent in order to further their Islamophobic agenda.

At the same time that I was receiving homophobic messages on social media from some Muslims, I found myself targeted by right-wing Islamophobes as well, trolling that greatly intensified after I participated in an LGBTQ-affirming hashtag campaign and declared my queer Muslim identity a source of pride.

Laura P wears a hijab in the asexual pride colors. Photo by author.

Laura P wears a hijab in the asexual pride colors. Photo by author.

The toxic mix of Islamophobia, racism, misogyny, homophobia and anti-asexual prejudice that followed made me acutely aware of how complex my intersecting identities are, and how many people do not want me to exist in the particular, unique way that I do.

I felt sliced in two by these external pressures — that I was being asked to choose sides, to align myself with only one identity and community and erase or reject the other. I can’t do that. My asexuality is, I believe, innate, a lifelong orientation that cannot be changed.

As a convert, my Islam was a choice, and I will not abandon it. My faith is central to my life and putting my trust in Allah has gotten me through some of the toughest challenges I’ve faced.

More than that, for the last 17 years I have chosen to visibly affiliate myself with Islam through my hijab. Showing up with and for Muslims is part of my commitment to justice. I will not stop doing so because others, both Muslim and not, try to define Islam and LGBTQ identity as incompatible.

That Sunday night I was at the mosque again, wearing a hijab in the colors of the asexual pride flag, seeking solace in Allah for my shattered heart, asking for His forgiveness, guidance and healing. This is where I stand, as my whole self, and this is where I will stay.

Not queer enough, not Muslim enough

Recently, I wrote about burnout, from writing in general and from writing about asexuality for Muslims in particular. In that post, I talked about the lack of any real asexual Muslim community or even an active group of bloggers other than myself and a handful of others like elainexe.

My post sparked some interesting discussions on Tumblr among other Muslim aces. One of the themes which came up was feeling like there’s no space we really fit in with.

In particular, we may feel “too queer” for Muslim spaces, and often “too Muslim” for asexual or LGBTQ spaces. We’re caught between worlds.

It’s actually even more complicated than that for me. In reality, I’m simultaneously both too queer and not queer enough, and too Muslim and not Muslim enough.

Or maybe I should say I’m not the “right kind” of queer, as an aromantic asexual. And not the “right kind” of Muslim as a convert.

Queer Muslim communities would seem to be an ideal solution to the conundrum of being too queer for Muslim spaces and too Muslim for LGBTQ spaces. Although such communities are often scarce and hard to find, they do exist.

However, my impression of these communities is that most of them are meant for a very specific type of queer Muslim. Namely, one who was born into a Muslim family but is not necessarily observant, and who is gay or lesbian (though there are starting to be support groups for trans Muslims).

As a devout asexual convert, I don’t feel like these groups and resources are aimed at me. I sometimes feel like they don’t even realize that I exist - that asexuality exists, that queer converts exist. And occasionally I wonder if I’m asking too much to want them to include me.

When it comes to my offline life, I always run into my accessibility limitations. There is an asexual meet-up group in a city near me, and also a queer Muslim group - but I can’t easily get to either of them and that’s not something that is likely to change in the immediate or near future (it might in the further future).

But even if I could get there, I’m left wondering how well I would fit in to either group. Are the aces really ready for my hijab? Do the queer Muslims accept aces?

This isn’t just idle speculation. The lack of a supportive community is a major factor in my burnout. I’m used to isolation - isolation has been the story of my life for the last 24 years and counting. But reaching out to communities and not finding a space for myself has turned out to be a lot more hurtful than I had expected.

Given my difficulties in accessing offline spaces, I primarily look for support online. Online asexual communities, for all their shortcomings and limitations, have been a lifeline for me. I’ve been able to find my own little corner with a few people who are interested in sharing with me. I’ve also found a supportive online community for female converts to Islam. But I don’t advertise my asexuality there.

And with these communities, I’m still falling into a gap where I can only find support for one or another part of myself at a time. Still caught between worlds.

That’s where the lack of any real asexual Muslim community hurts the most. I may have made some progress in carving out a space for myself, but if I’m the only one there, it’s not enough.

Asexuality, Writing, and Burnout

Note: This was originally published at The Asexual Agenda.

A year ago, I wrote a post announcing that I wanted to make 2015 The Year of Writing about Asexuality for Muslims. Over the course of the following nine months, I wrote ten essays for Muslim sites about asexuality, as well as four essays about the intersection of asexuality, Muslimness, and accessibility, with a focus on my experiences at the mosque (see list here).

At the end of November 2015, the site I had primarily been writing for, Love InshAllah, shut down indefinitely. I had had some luck writing for other Muslim sites, but usually not directly about asexuality (hence the focus on my mosque experiences in the other essays), so the loss of Love InshAllah was a major blow to my writing plans.

Several other events around the same time also impacted me, including another Muslim site leaving one of my submissions ignored in their slush pile, some private blogging drama, and dealing with misogyny at my mosque. I was exhausted from several months of juggling a full time job, two volunteer positions, an intensive Arabic class, and all this writing, and so I decided to take a hiatus during December.

As the intended one-month hiatus from writing turned into two months and then three, I realized that it wasn’t just writing on top of everything else that had exhausted me, it was writing itself. Writing about asexuality for Muslims had been rewarding in many ways, but it had also burned me out.

One definition of burnout is putting more emotional energy into an activity or cause than you get back. Many of the essays I wrote were deeply personal, in some cases things I had never talked about publicly before or experiences that had been wounding to me. I’m someone that tends to keep things to myself and putting myself out there like that was often a struggle.

I started writing about asexuality and Islam because there wasn’t really anything else out there on the subject. I hoped that by writing publicly about my experiences, I could carve out an asexual Muslim space where others might join me. I have received a number of comments, both privately and publicly, from other asexual Muslims and that means a lot. But there’s still no asexual Muslim community of any kind, just ships passing in the night every few months.

And knowing that if I wanted to read anything about the intersection of asexuality and Islam, I pretty much had to write it myself ended up putting a lot of pressure on me.

There was also the reaction from non-asexual Muslims. Or perhaps I should say non-reaction. For the most part, I didn’t receive too much negativity from people, and I’m grateful for that. However, I began to notice a pattern after awhile that few people seemed to relate to my experiences in any real way. I was just a curiosity to them, worth a “Thanks for teaching me about this” but no deeper engagement. Discussions that I hoped to contribute to continued on as if I didn’t exist.

I realize that community building and visibility work are long-term processes. But I underestimated how much it would take out of me and I overestimated how much I would get back from it. Hence the burnout.

I’ve taken the extra two months to think about how I can continue writing in a way that’s more sustainable. To reset my expectations to be more realistic.

For most of my life, asexuality has been an experience of isolation and alienation for me. Running into the limits of how much I can change that was a tough experience. I still hope that by plugging away at it, slowly and gradually, I’ll eventually get somewhere.

Building an asexual Muslim community

One of the items on my asexual community wishlist is to have some kind of online asexual Muslim community. In this post, I look more at this goal.

When I first joined Tumblr in 2012, I came across exactly one other asexual Muslim. Since then, I’ve discovered a number more (I’m curating public posts in my asexual Muslim tag) and last week muslimaces launched. While there are likely many other asexual Muslims on Tumblr that I just haven’t found yet, I think the total number that I know of is still less than a dozen. (The 2014 asexual community census found that 0.5% of respondents were Muslim. That’s a grand total of just 70 people!!)

More than this, most of the asexual Muslims I know of are not posting much about their experiences. Almost all of the content I’ve found on asexuality and Islam is written by one person - me. The other posts tend to be one-off personal narratives, submitted to series like “We Are Not Haram” and “Ace Of Color Stories”.

It’s great just to know that other asexual Muslims exist. I love reading the personal narratives. Don’t get me wrong. I completely respect that many asexual Muslims may not be ready to post their stories (I wasn’t myself until last year), or don’t feel they have much to say, or just prefer not to.

But subsisting on just this handful of posts is not really “community”. It’s merely occasional ships passing in the night every few months.

The broader asexual community on Tumblr has helped me immensely over the last three years. Through reading posts from other aces, I’ve been able to see the different ways people have handled situations similar to the ones I’ve experienced in my life. I’ve learned about aces who are leading lives and building relationships that I’ve come to realize I would like to do as well. Very often, I didn’t even realize I wanted these things until I saw other aces talk about them.

I hope that in some small way, my posts on asexuality and Islam have already helped other asexual Muslims in these ways. What I’d really like to see is other people contributing to these conversations so that I can learn too!

Moreover, I’m aware that, as a white convert and as someone who lives in the U.S., my experiences are not typical of most asexual Muslims. Limited by my own perspectives and background, I’m hardly able to provide a representative illustration of asexual Muslim life. I’ve sometimes hesitated to write for this very reason. I ultimately decided that I needed to put my voice out there anyway, in the hopes that it would inspire others to speak up as well. If not me, who?

With that in mind, here is a list of topics I’d like to see other asexual Muslims writing on, inshallah. This is not meant to be a complete list, just a potential starting place.

  • Marriage - Are you married? Do you want to be? If not, have you faced pressure from family or community to get married and how have you dealt with it? Do you feel like the Islamic jurisprudence around marriage is helpful or harmful for asexual Muslims? If harmful, how would you like to see it changed?
  • Relationships - Do you want to have a primary partnership (where you share residence, resources, or future plans) in your life? Who would this be with, ideally? For instance, are you only interested in ace-ace relationships or would you want to have a relationship with an allosexual person? Do you only want a Muslim partner or would you be willing to have a relationship with a non-Muslim? What type of relationship would it be? Sexual, romantic, queerplatonic? Something else? Are you interested in a same-sex or polyamorous relationship? Do you have a primary relationship now? If not, what obstacles have you encountered in building one?
  • Queerness - Do you identify as queer or LGBTQ? Are you part of any queer Muslim communities and, if so, what have your experiences been like? How do you think queer Muslim groups and communities can be more ace-inclusive?
  • Hijab - If you wear hijab, have worn it in the past, or want to wear it, what have your experiences been like? For instance, I tend to find that it desexualizes me and, being asexual, this is actually a relief in some ways. Is this true for you? How do you feel hijab expresses or relates to your asexuality?
  • Community - Are you out to anyone in your local community? Would you consider it? Have you found a progressive, feminist, or queer community (perhaps online) that you would feel comfortable being out to? Do you feel that asexuality marginalizes you within Muslim communities? In what ways? What would you like to see here?
  • Faith - Do you feel that asexuality is part of the natural diversity of Allah’s creation or do you have a different view? Do you feel that an asexual identity or your way of living life as asexual is haram? Are there verses of the Quran or rules in fiqh that you struggle with and how have you come to terms with them? What changes would you like to see in theology or fiqh to better support and include you as asexual?
  • Intersections - Are there other intersectional identities that you have that impact how you live as an asexual Muslim? For instance, disability, transgender identity, neurodiversity or mental health issues, being a survivor of domestic or sexual violence, race or ethnicity, being a convert or part of a minority group within Islam, gender, etc. How do these weave together with your asexuality and your Muslim identity in your life?
  • Asexual communities - Are you part of any (predominantly non-Muslim) asexual communities, whether on Tumblr or elsewhere? What are your experiences? Have you encountered Islamophobia or other forms of prejudice? How can asexual communities better support you as an asexual Muslim? How would you like to see them develop?

I hope that as more asexual Muslims begin to write and share their stories, this will encourage a still larger group to come forward and that we can begin to learn from each other and support each other in our experiences until we can be a genuine and sustainable community, inshallah.

The Year of Writing about Asexuality for Muslims

I created a Tumblr blog in June 2012 and began writing long-form original posts soon thereafter, mostly for the Carnival of Aces.

In March 2014, I began writing on asexuality and Islam. A month or so later I was accepted as a contributor for The Asexual Agenda.

When I first started writing on asexuality and Islam, hardly anybody else had written anything on this topic. Even today, there are only a handful of posts by other asexual Muslims, primarily from elainexe.

In October 2014, I first took the idea to submit a post on asexuality to a Muslim site. I even knew exactly which one I wanted to write for, a Muslim relationships site called Love InshAllah. I had been following the site for some time and had seen that it included a diverse range of stories, including some that were not about romantic love at all, and was LGBTQ-friendly. I started writing a draft post but stalled on it and moved on to other projects instead, hoping that this would help me break through my writer’s block.

Then in February 2015, Love InshAllah suddenly tweeted out an open call for contributors and they specifically stated they were looking for LGBTQ Muslim submissions. I trashed the incomplete draft I had started several months earlier then wrote a whole new post from scratch in about 48 hours and submitted it. The time was clearly right!

As it turns out, Love InshAllah was inundated with submissions and inquiries, far more than they had expected to receive, and it took them a long time to get back to me. During this period, I began thinking about which of my Asexual Agenda posts I could repurpose for future submissions, and I also began looking around to see what other sites I might submit to if it didn’t work out with Love InshAllah.

The thing is, “asexual Muslim stories” is a really narrow market niche. There aren’t any well-known or mainstream LGBTQ Muslim group blogs or magazine-style writing sites that I’ve come across. There are sites for “LGBTQ people of faith” that take submissions - but they seem to be entirely focused on Christianity (pro-tip: “People of faith” is not synonymous with “Christians”. Other religions exist!). Most general Muslim writing sites, including ones that are feminist or progressive in orientation, do not advertise themselves as LGBTQ-friendly and have not published any LGBTQ Muslim stories that I can find.

I expect that I’ll have to introduce Islam to asexual sites, and asexuality to Muslim sites. I’m not so sure about having to introduce both asexuality and Islam to LGBTQ Christian sites, or about having to introduce both LGBTQ topics and asexuality to Muslim sites.

As of right now, I have one other site that I might submit to, a Muslim feminist site that focuses on underrepresented perspectives. I recently found out that Love InshAllah will publish my submission on March 25, and I’m waiting to see if they might accept me as a monthly columnist. Until I know for sure on that, I’m not planning to take any action on this other site, but I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what types of writing and what topics are best suited for where. I have so many ideas!

I certainly didn’t expect it even as recently as six weeks ago, but this is starting to look like the Year of Writing about Asexuality for Muslims.

Carving out a space for myself

This post is for the February Carnival of Aces.

About a year ago, I wrote a post called Caught Between Worlds about feeling caught between asexual and Muslim communities. I reflected that I felt I couldn't really talk about Islam or being Muslim with aces, while I couldn't talk about being asexual with Muslims.

Since I wrote that post, I got over my hesitation about talking about Islam in asexual spaces - I've written 15 posts on asexuality and Islam for this blog (seven of which have been cross-posted to The Asexual Agenda)!

I've come across a few more asexual Muslims in that time, some of whom (particularly elainexe) have also written on their experiences with asexuality and Islam.

However, there isn't yet any sort of asexual Muslim community and it's still a topic I largely have to myself.

As well, for the most part the only asexual bloggers who seem to have engaged much with my posts are those who are specifically interested in intersections of asexuality with religion.

On the negative side, I had to leave a Facebook group for aces some months ago after another member posted Islamophobic comments and there was no response to my call-out. Thankfully, this is the only instance of overt Islamophobia I've encountered so far in asexual communities.

Despite these limitations, I'm pleased with what I've been able to achieve in this area.

What about talking about asexuality in Muslim spaces? That's proven more challenging. Talking about Islam in asexual spaces is relatively easy - everybody knows I'm Muslim from my handle and my avatar, so it was just a matter of deciding to stop caring what people think. But talking about asexuality outside of ace spaces runs into all of the issues of invisibility and erasure that aces tend to face. Even in LGBTQ Muslim spaces, most individuals have never heard of asexuality and most groups don't acknowledge its existence or include it under their umbrella.

I actually hope to focus more this year on visibility work in Muslim spaces. Even as I write this post, I have a piece on asexuality on submission to a popular Muslim relationships site that is LGBTQ-friendly.

I feel that starting out in asexual spaces helped me to gain a clearer understanding of what I want to say and what issues are important, which will make visibility and outreach work much easier.

Here are a few other things I've learned in the last year about being one of just a few people at the intersection of two very different communities:

  • Pick the space you feel most comfortable in or most free to discuss your whole self in and start from there. This helps you build confidence for more challenging spaces.
  • Be willing to be the first one to talk about your particular intersection, even if you're not sure whether your experiences are shared by others. Somebody has to start.
  • Write for yourself and for people who may share your intersection (even if you're not sure such people are out there), not just for your current audience. Don't let the limits of your current audience keep you silent.
  • Understand what your ultimate aim is. For me, it is to create a space where I can be wholly myself, both wholly asexual and wholly Muslim.
  • Look for allies and safe spaces - and be open to finding them in unexpected spaces. One of the more helpful blogs I came across this last year is A Queer Calling, a blog by a celibate LGBT Christian couple. I've learned a lot from reading this blog about integrating faith with a queer identity, even though their tradition is very different from mine.
  • Take the best you can from both communities. Even if you can't share all of yourself in one or both yet, you can draw support and feel less alone by sharing what you can with each.
  • Do what you can to stay strong. It can be profoundly lonely, and at the same time scary to break new ground. But in my experience, it's easier when I know I'm not hiding or silent anymore.

This year has been one of personal growth and healing for me and I'm glad I found the courage a year ago to hit Publish on the post that started it all.

Reconciling Asexuality with Belonging to a Muslim Community

Note: This was originally published at The Asexual Agenda

Over a series of recent posts, I analyzed how Muslim scholars have constructed a sex-normative discourse around marriage in Islam, argued that the consequences of this discourse can be profoundly harmful to asexual Muslims who are unable to provide sex, and offered a simple proposal for an ace-positive framework for marriage in Islam instead.

One of the things my analysis pointed up is how many alternative interpretations and special arrangements an asexual Muslim would need to employ in order to secure their right to a celibate marriage under the current framework. In a response post, Marriage, Islam, Orthodoxy, elainexe brought up an important question: What happens when your alternative interpretations and special arrangements are too unorthodox for your religious community?

This is an important factor in my decision not to marry. I feel that it is possible - in theory - to construct a celibate marriage arrangement for myself. But I would need to find not only a husband who would agree to it (presumably an asexual Muslim man), but also an agent (wali) to manage the marriage contract (and having the right clauses in this contract is absolutely critical to the plan) and, just to be safe, potential arbitrators and in some circumstances a judge who would respect my situation and my wishes in the event that the marriage and its special arrangements go wrong. As a convert, I don't have a Muslim father or brother who could serve as the wali and the standard procedure in this case is for the local imam (the prayer leader in the mosque) to either serve as the wali himself or to designate a man within the community who is both knowledgeable about Islamic jurisprudence relating to marriage and respected for his piety to be the wali.

The necessity of having all of these men involved (and, yes, they do have to be men) is largely due to patriarchal interpretations of Islam that give men freedom of action while leaving women dependent on the good-will of men to secure their rights. My situation as a convert also means that I would have to rely on the very men who are the establishment of orthodoxy in the community to support my very unorthodox approach to marriage.

Quite frankly, I find patriarchy and often outright misogyny to be far too common in Muslim communities, especially among religious authorities, for this to be a viable option for me.

There are several organizations such as Muslims for Progressive Values (in the U.S.) and Inclusive Mosque (in the UK) that are welcoming to queer Muslims and that are attempting to create alternative communities and mosques to provide community and leadership support. However, neither of these organizations has a branch in my area, let alone a mosque. The same may be true for many asexual Muslims. God willing, these groups may be able to expand over time to support more Muslims. For now, however, this may not be a viable option for me either.

One might ask, why not just have a civil marriage (and divorce, if needed) and not worry about the religious side of things? As elainexe notes in her post, forgoing the requirements of a religious marriage or divorce could create significant issues of legitimacy for the marriage, or for a couple subsequent to a divorce, within the community (something, it should be noted, that usually results in significantly more stigma for the woman than the man).

More than this, however, community is an important part of Islam. And I say this as someone who has gone through periods of huge isolation from Muslim communities since converting and who is currently unmosqued and primarily connects with other Muslims online. The ideal Muslim is not one who is cloistered in worship by themselves, but one who is involved in, and who serves, their family and their community.

Not only that, but many asexual Muslims may believe that the orthodox rules represent the most correct interpretation of Islam and thus should be followed as much as possible, even where this creates significant difficulties for them.

It often seems odd to a primarily secular/atheist queer and asexual movement, but for many queer Muslims (including me), faith is a very important part of our lives. Besides Islamophobia, failure to understand the importance of faith is one of the struggles many queer Muslims have with mainstream LGBTQ communities in the West. (Indeed, I am far from the only queer Muslim who feels caught between worlds; for many, the queer Muslim community may be the first or only place they can feel whole in themselves.)

Beyond this, and depending on the particular background and situation, the "orthodox" Muslim community may be the context in which one interacts with family, friends, or neighbors, or that represents an important link to one's heritage. A particular queer Muslim may be actively involved in social justice work within their own community on any number of issues. For many queer Muslims, then, cutting themselves off from the community is not a viable option either.

At some point, you realize there are no viable options for obtaining an unorthodox marriage and for maintaining ties with the community that supports your faith. All too often, this is the dilemma of the asexual Muslim, as it is for so many other queer Muslims.

Caught between worlds

As an asexual and a Muslim, I sometimes feel myself caught between worlds, on the margins of both.

Although I call my blog "Notes of an Asexual Muslim", use the screen name ace-muslim, and post from time to time about queer Muslims or other issues relating to Islam, I don't post about my faith or how I struggle to reconcile being asexual and Muslim. The primary reason for this is that the asexual community on Tumblr seems to be mostly atheists and agnostics. I feel like people wouldn't understand or just wouldn't care. This is compounded by Islam being a religion that is badly misunderstood in the West, and often heavily stigmatized. I've never seen any anti-Islam sentiment here, and I appreciate that, but it's always something I have to think about and face the possibility of dealing with.

As an introvert, I often find it difficult to put myself forward and talk about myself, especially when I'm not sure of being understood. It's easier to avoid anything personal, to just post about things that fit in with the SJ culture on Tumblr, like queer Muslims, and figure at least that might give people here a better impression of Islam and of the diversity of Muslims. But being "too Muslim", that I hold back from. Plus, in some cases I'd need to give Islam 101 before I can talk about what I actually wanted to say. Or I wonder if something I say could be taken out of context or used to further stigmatize Islam and Muslims if it's not 100% positive.

Meanwhile, how do I talk about asexuality with Muslims? It's hard enough to talk about it even with Western liberals, even in LGBT spaces. People haven't heard of it, don't seem to have ever even imagined it can exist, sometimes refuse to believe it does exist. How can you have a conversation where you need to spend the first 15 minutes (or much longer) giving Asexuality 101 just to even be able to talk about what you originally wanted to say?

A growing number of American Muslims, especially millennials, are increasingly accepting of LGBT Muslims, but it can still be a very conservative religious community.

There seems to be this persistent belief in some quarters that somehow being religious and asexual is "easy" because religious communities and traditions supposedly love celibacy. I can only think that people who believe that don't have much experience with actual religious communities. Because what there often is in these communities is a HUGE pressure to be married. I've posted about this a few times before.

Maybe this misperception is because most people on Tumblr seem to be in their late teens or early 20s, often still in college. At that age, a family or community may think you're just "waiting" until after college or until you're a bit older and not be too negative (though of course some can be). But try being a 40 year old spinster who does not plan to ever marry. Do you really imagine that's OK in a conservative religious community?

And Islam is a religion that very strongly encourages marriage. It may be that Christianity is a bit more friendly towards celibacy than other religions (though I don't think this is really the case when it means never marrying), but... I'm not Christian. You can't apply your idea about Christianity to a Muslim.

For me as an asexual Muslim, the question of marriage is a huge thing to deal with. Maybe I finally will write about that one of these days... (ETA 3/5/14: it's here)

But what it means is that just as I hold back about being a Muslim with asexuals, so I hold back about being asexual with Muslims. I am whole in myself, asexual and Muslim, but I'm still trying to figure out how to actually be wholly myself with asexuals and with Muslims.

In the meantime, my interactions with each of these groups are carefully tailored to show only those parts of myself that fit in to that group.