How I became a PROUD Muslim, LGBTQ+ ally.
By, Nermeen Salahuddin, Litigation Executive, Medical Negligence
Growing up, I was always labelled as ‘other’. I was one of 3 Muslims in my school. One of the others was my sister so diversity was not necessarily something I was familiar with. I felt incredibly isolated at my predominantly white catholic school. That was until, I met my childhood best friend; the first person I ever met who was part of the LGBTQ+ community. As soon as we met, she engulfed me in love and support and opened my eyes to the struggles of the community. She taught me to be myself unapologetically and showed me the importance of standing up for myself. She defended me every time I encountered Islamophobia and I like to think that I did the same for her when encountering homophobia.
My whole life, I’ve tried to live as an ally, however it was not until 2016, when I realized I was simply not doing enough. Trump had just been elected as president of the United States and the ‘Muslim ban’ has just been implemented to my disgust and I attended a protest against the ban. Whilst I was there, I got to talking to a few of the other protestors. I was surprised to find that a lot of the people there, were not Muslim themselves. I had never encountered non-Muslims who were there to merely support others. One specific individual told me that they were there as a ‘representative of the LGTBQ+ community’ to support fellow minorities because ‘if I don’t show up for you, how can I ever expect you to show up for me’.
Later that year I made a commitment to go to as many pride parades as possible and take part in any initiatives that go further to advance LGBTQ+ rights. As soon as I stepped foot into Pride Parade I was immediately welcomed with open arms. I found a community that accepted me exactly as I am. My beliefs were never questions and my intentions were always understood. Here I was stood with fellow minorities, downtrodden for centuries, forgotten by history, however in that moment there was nothing but celebration. Celebration of life, celebration of self and celebration of how far we have come.
The word ‘Islam’ means peace and I had never felt more at peace with my fellow human being than with those who allowed me to just be myself and assured me that they would always be there to fight my corner. So here I am now, a PROUD Muslim ally, showing up for the LGBTQ+ community because they’ve always shown up for me.