It isn’t about “what Islam says about homosexuality.” That’s a meaningless idea, anyway. What Islam? Salafi Islam? Ithna Asheri Islam? Sufi Islam? Progressive Islam? Ismaili Islam? I mean, really. That’s a project that’s bigger than what I have time for. All I’m giving you is what some of the more popular Muslim community leaders have said about Islam in the last couple of decades. This is taught from the minbar or the YouTube video, and it’s listened to by Muslims from age 11-88. It’s overheard by kids when Mom and Dad hook their iPhones to the car up on a long drive. It’s what’s taught to teens at weekend conferences. It’s said by Shaykh So and So and repeated by mother, father, sister and brother. It’s buffered by the outside culture, the mainstream non-Muslim culture that treats gay people like a joke, a nuisance, a bothersome necessity, an evil. We’re at a turning point for LGBT people in the West. In the United States, Canada, and many other Western countries, the right to marry and adopt has been extended to gay people. They may serve in the military. In many, but not all places, gay people have protections from discrimination at work and in housing.
Conversely, Islam is at a turning point of sorts. We all know what happened 15 years ago. We all know we thought it wouldn’t get worse than Al Q – and it has. And we also see a large population of Muslims under 40 coming of age globally as Muslims with Facebook, blogs, Twitter, YouTube, and the idea that everyone has their say and that their opinion is valid. In the West, these Muslims are coming of age at the same time that society is undergoing a historic shift in attitudes about gay people – do you think your Muslim children are immune to this? Do you expect your public school Muslim child to disavow their childhood best friend when that kid comes out as gay or lesbian? No, this is a different time, I think.
In the name and the memory of 49 people who were beloved and adored, I believe it is a responsibility – a drop in the ocean – to do what, so far, many Muslims have been unable or unwilling to do in the wake of the Pulse Massacre, and that is to simply provide a compilation of the things that have been taught about gay people in the West by these Muslim leaders. I would say that we should let them answer for it, but the speed with which they were absolved after June 12th illustrates that really, no one is going to challenge any Muslim on Islamic teachings except a motley crowd of far right Christians, atheists, ex-Muslims, and progressive Muslims.
I present it in three parts, in three general categories. The Salafish Muslims, the Sufish Muslims, and the Progressive Muslims. I am not familiar enough with Ithna Asheri and other Shiah Islamic speakers and teachers to highlight what they are teaching about LGBT people. And let’s be honest – no one really cares what the leaders of ISNA or CAIR have to say about this, so I won’t be presenting their thoughts here.