My inner musings 🌼
It’s been exactly 29 years, 9 months, and 1 week since I became a citizen of this planet at the point I started writing this story. But where did I come from?
When I was young and impressionable, my mother told me that she bought me from a shop where they sell babies. Of course, now I know there is no such thing as a baby shop. Science has been by far a better teacher in this regard than my reserved mother ever was. She was too shy and demure to tell me the truth.
But you can’t blame her, right? The topic of sex is almost taboo in many societies, especially at the time I was growing up. Sex talk was that topic that would have seen you banished from your community. If you were lucky, you would be taken to the nearest pastor for counseling. But the chances that he or she would perform an exorcism on you were ever so high.
Before I could discover for myself where I came from, religion swooped in and told me that I was created by God. I felt special. I felt chosen. How could I not? After all, a powerful being had decided to create me and bring me into this world. There must have been a purpose; a compelling reason why he or she chose to, right?
My preoccupation with religion would go on to shape most of my life. Many times, I found myself flipping through pages of the Bible. I remember being in awe of its message. But sometimes I was also afraid of it. Particularly, the chapter of Revelations always inspired fear and awe in me. Its mystical language and stories were compelling enough to drive me to get ‘saved’ at the age of 10.
Ah, life was good. I was going to go to heaven. I couldn’t wait to walk on the streets of gold, drink milk and eat honey from the streams that flowed therein. I also couldn’t wait to fly! I truly believed I would get my own set of wings in heaven. I would fly with the angels and the birds of paradise!
However, something disturbing was festering deep within me. I started to realize that I was different from other people with every crack of dawn. The older I got, the more apparent and profound I realized just how different I was from my peers and other people. It didn’t help that I was also a victim of bullying when I was very young. As young as 5 years old.
It still haunts me to this day how the boys in my village made it their lives’ mission to ascertain if I was a boy or a girl. I knew I was a boy, but somehow everyone struggled to know my gender. In fact, many times I was mistaken for a girl. Oblivious to me, my gender was a fascination to the rowdy boys in my village. One day in church, they ganged up and started chasing me around. They wanted to remove my pants and finally see whether or not I was really male.
Luckily, I was able to outrun them and sought refuge in a group of girls who were chatting nearby; my sister being one of them. Thankfully, the girls banded up and chased off the marauding boys.
After two such incidences of being chased around, I was left completely afraid and traumatized. I became a shut-in. Leaving the safety of the house would run me the risk of bumping into those bullies.
Not only did I feel very different from other boys, but I also looked different from them. When I became an adolescent, boys around my age had begun talking about girls. They assigned points to them based on their beauty and attractiveness. I was able to see why those placed in the higher tiers were beautiful, but I never understood how they were sexually attractive.
In stark contrast, I could see attractive boys and had a grading system of my own for them.
Adolescence brought about some much-needed changes I had always craved for in my physique to change more into a typical male’s. Now I was no longer ambiguous. I could now be identified as a young man. My voice deepened, I became muscular, more handsome, stronger, and taller.
Maybe now I would start being attracted to girls. Perhaps my male hormones would intervene and finally lead me to wag my tongue at the sight of an attractive woman. I couldn’t wait! I was looking forward to finally being ‘normal.’ I had always felt like a freak of nature ever since I was bullied for not looking like a boy. These perceptions were accentuated by the fact that I was attracted to people of my sex.
High School was a place of self-discovery for me. During this stage, I developed an insatiable interest to understand religion. You see, for the first time in my life, I had a Muslim friend who also happened to be my desk mate.
I got to experience one-on-one what a Muslim believes. My deskmate was a generous, kind, and intelligent young man. He taught me a great deal about Islam. I became interested in this religion and found myself many times reading the Quran. I resonated a lot with its message. After doing comparative religion involving Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, I concluded that I would become a Muslim.
Fast forward to campus, I officially joined Islam as a freshman in university. I was a faithful follower of my newfound faith and I adhered to all of Islam’s strict rules to a tee.
I was a model Muslim. I didn’t miss the 5 obligatory Muslim prayers. Moreover, I refrained from indulging in the ‘pleasures of the flesh.’ When my peers on campus would regularly drink themselves silly and engage in casual sex, I would be deeply engrossed in practicing my faith.
I also hoped that my dedication to Islam would help me conquer the biggest challenge I had been facing in my life; my same-sex attraction. I hoped that Allah would rid me of those ‘evil’ feelings I had and restore me to being a normal heterosexual male.
There wasn’t a single prayer I said that did not include me praying to God to make me straight. On top of that, I fasted many times hoping that it would accelerate my transition to heterosexuality.
As if the universe was out to mock me, the feelings would only become intensified. You see, I had no outlet to explore my sexuality. Heterosexual sex before marriage was an abomination in Islam let alone homosexual sex. Islam prescribed death for any person caught in the act of same-sex intimacy.
That said, I did not give up. I concluded that my same-sex feelings were a test from Allah. If I truly loved Him and if I wanted to go to paradise one day, I would need to resist these feelings. Despite my newly-found enthusiasm, I couldn’t help but feel that this was a very challenging test. Was it fair that I would never be able to experience sexual intimacy? My fellow Muslims were marrying left, right, and center. Before we even completed University, several of my friends had already gotten married and some even had kids. They were revered and paraded as excellent examples for all of us single Muslims to emulate.
You see, I slam encourages young adults to get married as soon as possible. Postponing marriage for the young Muslim will lead him or her to fall into fornication. The pressure to marry was too much. Consequently, I contemplated deeply about getting married. But who was I fooling? I didn’t even have a sliver of attraction towards females.
“Maybe I would learn to love my future wife and train myself to be attracted to her,” I thought. Riding on the reassuring waves of this thought, I started proposing to the beautiful Muslim ladies on Campus. Sadly, all of them turned me down. As a convert, I was not of the same race and tribe as many Muslims in my school. Their parents would have a hard time allowing me to marry their daughters. The racial discrimination wasn’t apparent, but it existed just as a whisper does. Not loud enough to be easily deciphered, nonetheless still there.
At the height of my religious piety, my feelings were no longer controllable. I was longing intensely for physical and emotional intimacy with a man and I couldn’t continue ignoring this reality. It became apparent just how bad I needed this when I found myself praying to Allah in the mosque to allow me to meet and be intimated with a man just once. I didn’t realize immediately how absurd my prayer was. I was asking the being that prohibited homosexuality, fornication, and adultery to allow me to engage in this abomination. Once I came around, I thought, “I must be losing my faith.”
This particular moment was a turning point in my life. Although not explicitly said, I decided I would seek out a man to experience emotional and physical intimacy with. This was a need, not just a want. Experiencing sexual, emotional, and physical intimacy with another human being is hard-wired into the limbic system of our brains. This is our innate instinct to seek out a mate.
However, Islam insisted that I was committing an abomination and disbelief by engaging in same-sex intimacy. I have tried to find supportive verses or teachings for homosexuality in the Quran but it has been futile. The message in Islam is clear: homosexuality is not allowed; period. Hell (Jahannam) is the rightful place reserved for homosexuals. “Will I also go to hell?” I found myself asking this question. Consequently, I found it hard to continue practicing the religion. After all, what was the point if I would end up going to hell for being queer? It was clear to me that I could not change my sexual orientation.
Despite that, I loved Allah. I craved His friendship and I still do to this day. Unfortunately, it became apparent to me that the Allah I knew in Islam would never condone one living a queer life. I had to cut my losses. What a big loss it was. According to Islam, I was trading paradise to experience a temporary pleasure of this world, albeit being a sin.
I was given two choices; one, resist my humanity, or two, choose paradise. As a human being, how do I even resist my humanity? How can I go against my innate instincts? It would be a losing battle. I have tried that before, and it drove me to the edge. Repressing one’s natural needs is not sustainable in the long run. Eventually, something will have to give!
As you can tell, I still struggle with the idea that I am sinning by living as my true authentic self, but I have no choice. Every element will act in its natural disposition. A stream of water cannot help but flow downwards. It cannot defy gravity.
After deeply contemplating sexuality and religion, I have come to wonder why a powerful being created me ‘flawed’ and then end up punishing me for not being perfect. Surely, a being as wise as God should be able to understand that love is just love. God should understand that who I chose to be intimate with, has no bearing on being a good person.
I wish the God of religion was tolerant towards queer people. The hatred and intolerance we face as LGBT people stem from religion. Believers are taught that queer people are evil and deserve the worst punishment. This has encouraged and created an environment for the violation of queer people’s human rights.
I truly don’t know where I stand when it comes to religion. Sometimes I think seriously about going back to Islam but somehow I can never muster the courage to. However, one thing that I believe deep down is if there is a God, I don’t think He or She would have a problem with me being as I was created.
I am curious to see where my relationship with religion will end up. I am even reflecting and rethinking the whole story of creation and whether or not there is a God. As a curious mind shaped by reason, I am open to considering all possible theories about the origin of life and the universe. However, that is a long journey that I have only mapped out on paper but have yet to make any tangible strides.
Right now though, I am in a long-term relationship and I would not hesitate to get married to my current partner if society and the law approved it. I am the happiest I have ever been!