Gay Muslims Find Freedom, of a Sort, in the U.S.
About 15 people marched alongside the Muslim float in this city’s notoriously fleshy Gay Pride Parade earlier this year, with various men carrying the flags of Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine and Turkey and even Iran’s old imperial banner. While other floats featured men dancing in leather Speedos or women with scant duct tape over their nipples, many Muslims were disguised behind big sunglasses, fezzes or kaffiyehs wrapped around their heads.
Even as they reveled in newfound freedom compared with the Muslim world, they remained closeted, worried about being ostracized at the mosque or at their local falafel stand. “They’re afraid of the rest of the community here,” said Ayman, a stocky 31-year-old from Jordan, who won asylum in the United States last year on the basis of his sexuality. “It’s such a big wrong in the Koran that it is impossible to be accepted.” For gay Muslims, change may come via a nascent body of scholarship in minority Muslim communities where the reassessment of sacred texts used to damn homosexuality is gaining momentum.