Reddit user bar84bar doesn’t waste any time in the opening to his Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) forum: “I am in a relationship with another Gay Arab for almost 2 years. I still count myself as a Muslim. And I think I am really happy.”
In AMA forums, users of the popular social news site can ask the original poster (OP) “anything,” and hopefully the OP delivers an answer. As is its staple, comments on the Reddit get upvoted, ensuring that the most popular questions in the forum like this one are available in order. The AMA comes little less than a month after the U.S.’s first Imam came out in an Al Jazeera America article.
SFGN brings you the most popular question from the forum, and their answers. These comments have only been edited for space.
From user bar84bar:
Many posts are asking on how did I first come out to someone, and how did I meet my boyfriend. So this is for answering both of those questions.
I first came out to a group of my friends. They are a circle of very close friends who are mostly agnostics, atheists, or progressive muslims. It was actually not initiated by me. One of my friends suggested we form a "circle of trust" to come out to each other as straight, gay or bisexual.
At that hour of confession, my relationship with my boyfriend started; he was one of this small group. So basically, our love was somehow "sponsored" by our friends.
From user amusiclistener:
Firstly, thank you for this AMA, it's a subject I have been curious about specially as a potential tourist. I have a few questions on this subject. Firstly, how is the LGBT community like? Do you have to hide? If so, how did you ever find out about it? In some conservative Western countries, while we still have a long way to go in terms of tolerance, the general feeling is that things are slowly but surely going to improve, eventually. Do you feel the same way over there?
The main way to get to know other gays is mainly through online dating, specially mobile apps. With those apps you could find tens of gays at any time around the clock.
To put this idea of staying hidden into understanding, I should emphasize the role of the taboo-ness of homosexuality in Saudi Arabia. Nobody talks about it. That helps the underground LGBT community to grow unharassed as long as they are invisible. In other more "American" terms, don't ask don't tell.
For your other point regarding the future of homosexuals in a country like Saudi Arabia, I would say that it is inevitable in the same way that democracy is. People, on Twitter for instance, are more and more discussing homosexuality along other topics such as democracy, religion, or evolution.
From user daretelayam:
- How do you reconcile your faith as a Muslim and your homosexuality? Doesn't Islam frown upon homosexuality?
- Do you still live in an Arab state? Are you 'out' amongst your peers/community?
- What term do you prefer to be called in Arabic? "مثلي" [Translation: Gay] or "شاذ" [Translation: Thumping]? Apologies if either of these is offensive.
- I believe that Islam, as any religion, is highly interpretable in a variety of ways. Therefore, I don't think that there is a single Islam, but multiple versions of it. In the Islam as I interpret it, I have no contradictions between being gay and being a muslim.
- I have lived, until very recently, in Saudia. Many of my friends know about me and are very supportive of me. But I don't think that they are a representative sample of Saudi society's general dismissal, if not hostile, attitude toward homosexauls.
- I prefer مثلي. [Translation: Like Me] I find it more accurate and respectful. I would like to define شاذ [Translation: Thumping] as someone who commited a sexual offence such as rape.
From user turtleintegral:
What country do you live in and how accepting is your society of LGBT people?
Homosexuality is definitely a taboo in Saudi Arabia. Yet, there are many gays and lesbians in there. If a gay seeks support he can find it. Subculture in Saudi Arabia is very diverse and colorful (including dark colors). Communities of liberal, atheists, or progressive muslims are found in many major cities. It is not very hard to find support among such groups. But one must be cautious and careful.