UK’s first Muslim Pride set to take place this weekend

Members of the Imaan Muslim LGBTQI support group take part in the Pride in London parade on 06 July, 2019 in London, England. The festival, which this year celebrates 50 years since the Stonewall Uprising, attracts hundreds of thousands of people to the streets of the British capital to celebrate the LGBT+ community. (Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A first-of-its-kind Pride event for LGBTQ+ Muslims is happening this weekend.

Organised by charity Imaan LGBTQI+, Muslim Pride 2024 is set to take place at Queen Mary, University of London, on Saturday (22 June) and hundreds of people are expected to attend the full-day “celebration of queer Muslim culture, activism and history”.

The event was originally scheduled for 2020 but was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The day will begin with a panel discussion featuring scholars and activists, including Dr Sanah Ahsan, Hafsa Qureshi, Imam Muhsin Hendricks and Dr Amina Wadud.

There will also be workshops that focus on topics from Islamic feminism to the joys and challenges of being out as a Muslim, and entertainment from members of the community.

Speaking to the BBC about the event, non-binary practising Muslim Ferhan Khan said: “It’s going to be filled with people [who] are just like me and understand me. I don’t need to explain myself to them.”

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Khan spoke about the negative experiences they had growing up as someone who engaged with femininity.

“Unfortunately, what I found was that any queerness, any kind of identity that deviated away from masculinity, was being quite firmly oppressed in me.

“I was made to feel ashamed of my sexuality, ashamed of my non-masculine traits and kind of encouraged to minimise those traits,” they said, recalling one story where they were given a lecture by family members after wearing make-up and nail varnish.

Despite this, Khan still has a relationship with their family.

‘Celebration and joy’

Events such as Muslim Pride are important, to challenge the idea that Islam is “inherently queer-phobic”, Khan added.

“This is an assumption that’s not necessarily based on fact because if you read the parts of the Quran that supposedly condemn homosexuality, it’s not clear cut. What this serves to do is invalidate the notion that you can be both queer and Muslim.

“For a lot of queer Muslims, this is a difficult one because they might want to retain their faith. They might want to simply be in a space where they are validated for being both queer and Muslim, and that’s what Imaan is doing, serving up a space where you can be… validated for that choice.”

Event organiser Sayyada told the BBC she was extremely excited ahead of Muslim Pride, but also a little nervous.

“We’ve worked so hard for this for so many years and we feel it’ll be a really good celebration of our community. So often when you talk about these multiply marginalised communities, the whole story is one of doom and gloom, struggle and rejection.

“We want Saturday to be a story of celebration and joy and finding community together.”

Tickets for Muslim Pride are sold out but you can join the waiting list here.

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