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.