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.

About Laura (ace-muslim)

Laura is an aromantic asexual, queer-identified, and a Muslim. She lives in the U.S., works in online tech support, and volunteers for a Muslim anti-racism organization. She blogs about asexuality, queer Muslim issues, and other topics at http://ace-muslim.tumblr.com and has written on asexuality for a number of Muslim sites.
This entry was posted in Articles, Community, Intersectionality, LGBT, personal experience and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Not queer enough, not Muslim enough

  1. queenieofaces says:

    I feel this. Not this particularly sense of being torn between worlds, of course, but definitely a similar one. I have a post on being mixed (mixed race and mixed orientation) that I’ve been working on for a while which is…eerily similar to a lot of this. I wish fewer people felt like they have to decide which parts of themselves are most worthy of support–that’s a really uncomfortable position to be in, in my experience.

    Also, interesting that you bring up not feeling like resources which should arguably encompass you aren’t aimed at you–I was just talking to someone about that the other day. There are a lot of resources for bi folks that are helpful enough that I can get something out of them, but then they’ll have these moments of being completely orthogonal to my experience.

    • Sometimes the resources simply don’t take the possibility of my identity into account, but other times, they make assumptions that don’t apply, such as assuming everybody reading it is from a certain cultural background or has had certain experiences. Just avoiding making universalizing statements about what people’s lives are or should be like would be a step forward!

    • Sennkestra says:

      Heh, reminds me about the draft post that I also have about being mixed race and how that mirrors the weird placement of being not-queer-enough for queer groups but also not-straight-enough either….someday I’ll finish that.

      I’ve definitely also felt that feel of being caught in a place where I don’t really fit into any of the groups available – as an ace before I found ace-specific communities, and as a mixed-race person when it comes to any kind of racial community stuff. Finding more specific sub-communities definitely helps so much, but I definitely feel the pain about how hard it is to even find/make those communities – if it’s even possible at all.

      I’ve been lucky enough in terms of ace spaces that I haven’t had to do as much work to carve out a space – other people started the work before me, so all I had to do was continue with what they had built.

      But more recently I’ve also been trying to find a way to reconnect with other mixed-race communities after losing the informal ones I grew up when I moved, and that’s been a struggle – it’s looking like if I want that kind of social or support group in my area that I’m going to have to build one up from scratch, as the only groups I’ve found are either dead or students-only. Even the online spaces I’ve found have been….not really sufficient. (And honestly, even that’s a compromise….Ideally I’d prefer specifically a hapa/asian american mixed race group, or even an ace mixed race group, since both of those would be more relevant to me, but considering the critical mass challenge I’ll take what I can get.)

      And I mean, that’s how hard it is even with a relative populous sub-group. I can only imagine that dealing with those same issues for even less common groups is going to be even more stressful.

      • I hope both of you will publish your posts as I’d love to read them! It’s interesting how many similarities there can be despite the differences in our backgrounds.

      • queenieofaces says:

        Haha, oh gosh. Uh. This is an excerpt from that post I’ve been working on:

        I worry about entering LGBTQ spaces because I worry that people don’t realize that I don’t belong–that I am passing for someone who does belong. I worry about entering spaces for people of color because I worry that people don’t realize that I do belong–that I am passing for someone who doesn’t belong, and that the fact that I have the potential to pass means I shouldn’t belong.

        SOOOOOOO, YEAH, I FEEL YOU. (I should really finish that post/turn it into something that’s less…gross emotions everywhere.)

  2. Pingback: Asexual Muslim resistance, activism, and self care: Creating Change 2017 and me | The Asexual Agenda

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