Muslim drag queen Glamrou says the Quran has ‘pockets of queerness’

Amrou Al-Kadhi Non-binary Muslim drag queen glamrou

Amrou Al-Kadhi, otherwise know as Glamrou, is a non-binary, Muslim drag queen and they want to show the world that queerness and religion can go hand-in-hand.

Al-Kadhi’s new book, Unicorn: The Memoir of a Muslim Drag Queencame out today (October 3) and an extract published by i-D explains how they see “pockets of queerness” in the Quran.
They wrote: “Prophet Muhammed once said: ‘Islam began as something strange and will return to being something strange, so give blessings to those who are strange.’

Amen Muhammed! If you replace the world Islam with ‘people’, the sentence could feasibly be the slogan for a queer sex-positive disco in Berlin.”

They said that the Western perception of Islam limits Muslims – “we’re either terrorists, terrifying, or terrified” – and that it had taken time to align being LGBT+ with their faith.

They described the first time they attended a queer Muslim group, writing: “There were Muslim men in female Islamic robes and a trans woman wearing a hijab, and I thought about little Amrou in Islam class, and how I wished I could tell them that one day they’d be sitting in a room full of other queer Muslims, and that love, not eternal fire, awaited them.”

At the group they discussed the Muslim concept of Wilayah, which translates as “spiritual advisor” and is often conservatively interpreted as “the practice whereby Muslim men ensure women are marrying appropriate Muslims”.

But during the discussion, Al-Kadhi realised: “I practised Wilayah with my queer drag family, Denim. For me, part of identifying as queer is about forming a community with other queer people, one in which we ensure each other’s safety, constantly check each other’s politics, and make sure that we don’t become poisoned by the pressures of heteronormativity.”

One of the passages form the Quran that the group discussed and that Al-Kadhi interpreted as queer was: “And the masculine people of faith and the feminine people of faith are spiritual protectors of one another: they encourage what is right and discourage what is wrong. (Quran 9:71).”

They said: “It’s striking too that the Quran believes masculinity and femininity to be free from actual biology, and more like forces capable of existing within all people – a very queer picture!”

The drag queen also makes the point that embedded in the origins of Islam is each Muslim having “their own, independent relationship with the text”, and that “autocratic and restrictive” interpretations only came later.

They said: “It’s not Allah who forbade my queer identity, but the people who ignored the well of alternative potentials in the Quran.”

They have now embraced a branch of Islam called Sufism, which they said “has many affinities with queer identity”.

“Prayer methods in Sufism can be wonderfully poetic, and also intrinsically queer. There is a glorious Sufi sect in which men dress in skirts and spin around and dance as a way to fuse their souls with Allah.”

Of their drag performances as Glamrou, they wrote: “It is a kind of religious experience, a room united in the celebration of difference; when a show goes really well, it gives me a kind of faith.

“A faith that Allah’s plan was for me to twirl onstage in a skirt so that I could eventually find not only myself, but Allah, like many Sufist Muslims had been doing centuries before me.”