TV Shows Pop Culture

Season two of ‘Love, Victor’ is a handbook on how to show up for people

As much as most of us want to be good allies, it’s easy to get caught up in the label. Sometimes we add a rainbow flag or a raised fist emoji to our social media bios and call it a day. But labeling ourselves as an ally isn’t the same as being an ally.

There’s a lot of work involved, most of which comes down to showing up — politically, economically, and socially — for the communities we’re trying to support. If you’re still iffy on how to make the jump from calling yourself an ally to being one, the second season of Love, Victor provides an excellent handbook on how to show up for the people in your life.

Love, Victor takes place in the same universe as the Love, Simon film adaptation of Becky Albertalli’s book Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. In the first season of the show, Victor comes to terms with his sexuality with Simon’s help — amongst other shenanigans and drama. The start of the second season picks up at the cliffhanger, with Victor coming out to his family. Their responses set the tone for the season and made it clear that the writers aren’t steering clear of hard topics like religious acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community.

This makes the second season of Love, Victor very painful. I spent the majority of every episode sobbing and occasionally laughing through my tears. When I say the second season is traumatic, especially for those of us raised in religious households, I don’t use that word lightly. I honestly wasn’t sure if the second season would end happily.

Thankfully it did … kind of.  Though the journey to get to the happy ending was hard to watch at times, the second season of Love, Victor was authentic in its depiction of the messiness of human relationships, familial, romantic, and platonic.

After Victor comes out to his family, we see three very different responses from his sister, mom, and dad. Pilar, his sister, instantly hugs him and confirms she loves him. Armando, his dad, is visibly confused and asks questions. Isabel, his mom, flees the scene and puts off talking to Victor. Each of these reactions foreshadows the characters’ relationship with Victor for the rest of the season.

Pilar is one of the best examples of allyship on the show. Despite her rough exterior, she intrinsically knows how to be a good friend to those around her. Like any good ally, Pilar isn’t interested in solving others’ problems for them. She’s there to listen, empathize, and even open up her wallet if needed. These actions can sometimes be the hardest parts of allyship to grasp, specifically because we don’t always consider them to be active actions.

How Pilar shows up as a friend contrasts with Lake’s take on friendship — and remember being a good friend is often similar to being a good ally. Rather than ask Felix how she can support him during a manic episode, Lake takes on Felix’s problems as her own and steps in with a solution she thinks is best: enlisting her mom to help. But this isn’t what Felix wanted.

Throughout the season, we watch the communication between Felix and Lake break down because of this misstep. Many of us as allies have good intentions, and yet we make mistakes because the actions we take aren’t always the most helpful.

Pilar, on the other hand, knows sometimes the best thing you can do is just be there for others. She knows that fighting other people’s battles for them isn’t the way to go and does what she can to make herself available to her friends and family. Pilar is the blueprint, and we should all take notes.

However, allyship isn’t always a seamless transition, and that’s okay so long as we make an effort to learn and grow. Armando admits he doesn’t understand Victor’s sexuality, but he doesn’t let this stop him from learning how to support Victor. Armando’s arc throughout the second season shifts from, “I don’t understand but I’m trying, and I love you” to, “my understanding isn’t the point, and I will always be here for you because your sexuality doesn’t change our relationship.”

Most importantly, Armando puts in the work. He starts with Google, and then eventually attends a support group for parents with children in the LGBTQIA+ community. His ally journey isn’t without a few bumps in the road, which I think is relatable.

Despite being outside of his comfort zone, Armando knows giving up isn’t an option. His storyline is another good one to take notes from, especially because Armando encourages those around him, namely Isabel, to embark on the same journey without pressuring, rushing, or villainizing them.

Isabel’s arc is the root of this season’s pain. As someone who grew up in and has since parted ways with the church for the very reasons depicted in Love, Victor, I have to admit I was hoping we could skirt the issue entirely in favor of showing how religion doesn’t exclude the LGBTQIA+ community. However, this isn’t always the case in most churches, so Love, Victor does take a more honest approach.

Isabel clearly loves Victor, but his sexuality contradicts the religious beliefs she was taught from such a young age. We see her battling with what she knows to be true and what the church has told her to be “true.”

Ignorance can be unlearned, and season two shows how confusing, emotional, and harrowing that process is for everyone involved. Isabel’s ultimate acceptance of Victor showcases how religion can (and should) accept and love the LGBTQIA+ community.

Notably, Isabel doesn’t renounce her religious beliefs at the end of the season. Instead, she tells off the bigoted priest for preaching hate. While Isabel does not set a good example for allyship this season, her storyline is important, especially for any LGBTQIA+ people and allies with religious affiliations. And here’s to hoping we get to see her show up as an ally in season three!

While we’re on the topic of religion, I would have liked to see more of Rahim’s coming out experience this season. Rahim also lives in a religious household, but unlike Victor, his family accepted his sexuality instantly.

Seeing that scene play out on-screen would show that religion doesn’t always mean homophobia — which is something we had to wait until the end of the season to see made clear with Victor and Isabel’s storyline.

Beyond Victor’s family, almost all of the characters offer up case studies on how to be good friends (and allies) to the people they care about. Felix is always there for Victor. Andrew is always there for Mia — Andrew also had his own ally journey once he realized he had to be vocal about supporting Victor. Lake and Mia are always there for each other.

Rahim and Victor are there for each other. Benji and Victor were there for each other — until the second half of the season, but that’s a different topic entirely. No matter their sexuality or gender, the Love, Victor characters support each other because that’s what it means to be a good friend. This is what allyship is as well. In fact, allyship is kind of just another word for being a good friend to everyone.

Season two of Love, Victor was a reminder that we’re not always going to be the perfect ally, just like we’re not always going to be the perfect friend. Life is messy and so are our familial, romantic, and platonic relationships.

If one thing is for certain it’s that giving up is not an option, especially if we’re insistent on trying to be good friends and allies. And just like the title sequence says, we all need someone to tell us it will be alright — so why not be that person for the people in our life? Or, as I like to call it, being the Pilar.

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Style Fashion Beauty Lookbook

This is how you can be conscientious with your spending this Pride month

It’s Pride Month, which means companies big and small are showing up and out for the LGBTQIA2S+ community. While clothing, beauty, and accessory brands are now selling rainbow merch galore, what does the commodification of Pride do for the LGBTQIA2S+ community? Well, depending on which company you’re buying from, nothing. And we have rainbow capitalism to thank for that.

Rainbow capitalism is when businesses capitalize off of the LGBTQIA2S+ rights movement through marketing campaigns and product collections. Much like white feminism, rainbow capitalism tends to be performative and fails to address real issues harming the LGBTQIA2S+ community. Capitalism isn’t always a tide that raises all ships. And this is still the case even if the tide is rainbow-hued. In capitalist U.S. society, the tide is typically man-made and designed only to raise the ships of white people, including minorities like white women and most white members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Capitalist greed is usually the reason why corporations prefer to stay quiet on some of the biggest issues harming the community.

Ghaith Hilal of AlQaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society, states, “You cannot have queer liberation while apartheid, patriarchy, capitalism, and other oppressions exist. It’s important to target the connections of these oppressive forces.” But most companies aren’t interested in fighting these oppressive forces. It’s easier to change a logo to a rainbow flag than to actively work to end homelessness, the criminalization of sex work, the carceral system, and the violence against Palestinians. In addition, police brutality, climate change, and gentrification disproportionately affect BIPOC and the LGBTQIA2S+ communities— and yet I can guarantee that almost none of the companies waving Pride flags this June will speak out against any of these issues.

Anti-Racism Daily’s Nicole Cardoza writes, “there’s no excuse for brands to ignore the LGBTQIA+ community the rest of the year while only providing rainbows as acknowledgment in June. It seems like some corporations think yearly superficial appeals to the LGBTQIA+ community will allow them to tap into this market, while making real commitments to the community would prove too costly.” Vox’s Alex Abad-Santos agrees, stating: “Brands promoting gay pride and the LGBTQ community may not always be consistent in actually supporting the LGBTQ community, but they still capitalize on the help that people want to give that community.”

Similar critiques have inspired some brands to do more than just launch a Pride collection. Last year, companies standing with the LGBTQIA2S+ community included ASOS, who supported GLAAD; Nike, who partnered with 20 organizations like Campus Pride, the Hetrick-Martin Institute, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and the National Gay Basketball Association; MAC Cosmetics, who donated 100% of the proceeds from the Viva Glam lipstick to efforts to end HIV/AIDS; among others. However, brands like Nike have been accused of human rights violations, making their Pride partnerships and donations contradictory. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community are a part of every single global society, so putting any group at risk is an LGBTQIA+ issue.

This year, brands once again are teaming up with organizations. For example, Converse’s 2021 Pride collection is in support of It Gets Better Project, Ali Forney Center, BAGLY, and OUT MetroWest; Reebok is donating $75,000 to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project; Levi’s is making its annual donation to OutRight Action International; Crocs made a donation to GLAAD; Dr. Martens is donating $100,000 to The Trevor Project, and NYX Cosmetics partnered with the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

There’s also the much-talked-about Pride line from Target. The collection is the retailer’s 10th year in partnership with GLSEN, with this year’s donation amounting to $100,000. TikTok decided to turn everyone’s For You Page into a runway for the collection. But instead of clapping politely, most users were aghast at how ugly, questionable, or unable to read the room most of the pieces were in the collection. Walmart, Hot Topic, Spencer’s, and more received similar critiques.

While publicly supporting the LGBTQIA2S+ community is important, and donations to charities and organizations are a plus, buying from these Pride collections only further lines the pockets of the abovementioned brands and corporations who may or may not be helping the LGBTQIA2S+ community year-round. These brands might seem like they’re putting their money where their mouth is to support the LGBTQIA2S+ community, but their actions elsewhere prove otherwise.

According to GLAAD, more than “40% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people and almost 90% of transgender people have experienced employment discrimination.” These stats are extremely high and show why companies have to do more than change their logo in June. If the above brands and corporations genuinely support the LGBTQIA2S+ community, then they will make sure they’re paying their workers’ respectable wages, offering healthcare and benefits, creating a healthy work environment for everyone, and fighting against discrimination with proper training and policies.

Wired’s Justice Namaste argues rainbow capitalism and “rainbow-washing allow people, governments, and corporations that don’t do tangible work to support LGBTQ+ communities at any other time during the year to slap a rainbow on top of something in the month of June and call it allyship.” Wired’s Emma Grey Ellis adds, “A decent share of these corporations could take another lesson in allyship. Being an ally is like being a wingman: If you make it about you, you’re doing it wrong!”

No one is saying brands shouldn’t support the LGBTQIA2S+ community. Discrimination and hate crimes still happen today, and brands publicly standing with the community are important. But solidarity needs to happen year-round and in acknowledgment of intersectionality. Brands need to realize rainbow capitalism isn’t always doing the most good, since most of the profits do not reach the bank accounts of members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community.

This is why it’s better to bypass most Pride collections and instead shop straight from local and small businesses owned by members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. Big-name brands and corporations could have done this by hiring artists, designers, and creatives from the LGBTQIA2S+ community to design their collections or sell their merch in-store.

Rainbow capitalism comes down to the fact that many corporations benefit socially and economically from Pride merchandise and branding. Historically, Pride has been about protests, rights, and liberation. Unfortunately, there is still much to protest in order to achieve rights and liberation for many groups in the LGBTQIA2S+ community. The Human Rights Campaign called 2021 the “worst year in recent history for LGBTQ state legislative attacks,” with transgender people targeted by more than 100 bills introduced in 33 states in the United States.f In addition, there are still 14 countries around the world that criminalize transgender people. How are Pride-celebrating companies working to oppose this legislation?

While Pride is a celebration, there is still much work to be done globally to help liberate the LGBTQIA2S+ community. Rainbow capitalism isn’t the solution.

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Sexuality Love + Sex Love

Dating as a queer brown woman is hard in a country that demands you to be invisible

Celebrate Spirit Day and support queer youth against bullying with us here at The Tempest.

The first time I fell in love, my best friend had shown me a printed still from Sailor Moon, I stared at the picture wide-eyed as I went over all ten of the Sailor Soldiers. Each girl was more beautiful than the next and as my eyes travelled over the different hair shades, it stopped for more than a minute on two women – Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune, to my sixth-grade self, they looked like everything I wanted to be as an adult. Feminine, attractive and dripping with big lesbian woman energy (I’d think years later). 

“Who are they?” I asked my best friend as I peered at them with interest. 

“Oh, they’re Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune. They’re lesbians.” she said, as if my eleven-year old self knew what the meaning of lesbians were. 

“What does that mean?” 

“It means when women like other women.” 

“What? Really?? You can do that??” 

I sounded mystified. It was an unheard concept to me – no one had ever told me growing up you could date women and that was an actual thing. I assumed everyone was like my parents.

Then, I settled on Tuxedo Kamen, a.k.a, Chiba Mamoru – Sailor Moon’s main squeeze. He looked like every Disney prince but even better with his beautiful midnight blue eyes, tanned skin and an ugly green sweater that would become the running joke in all the fanfictions I would read in secret years later when I was supposed to be studying for my finals. 

He was lovely, he was the knight in shining armor, and he was the perfect man. 

The only problem? 

I didn’t know what to make of him and my mind kept going back to the image of Sailor Uranus’ hand wrapped around Sailor Neptune’s neck in the photo.

Was that love? 

I’m in tenth grade when I start to understand that something about me is different. High school was a confusing time for me and everyone I knew – we kept so many secrets from each other and we pretended to be something we were not.  It was a terrible time to discover you were maybe a lesbian woman. 

Classmates magically had secret boyfriends overnight and I would be asked ad nauseam who I liked (it was always Tuxedo Kamen or some new anime man I discovered during my many YouTube binge watching sessions). People thought I was childish and when pestered if I had a crush on anyone – anyone at all, I vaguely admitted I liked a childhood friend (a boy I went to church with). Everything was fine, I was alright, and they left me alone. 

It was only months later during a trip to India for my grandparents wedding anniversary, I would hear that my third favorite teen celebrity Lindsay Lohan was dating a lesbian woman and my life would change completely. 

I don’t know how many women can claim that Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson were their queer awakening, but I would like to think that I was one of the few. I spent that whole summer secretly using my sister’s Wi-Fi connector to look up lesbians, especially queer women in pop culture, singers (K.D Lang, Melissa Etheridge, Tegan and Sara), The L Word and this word – “bisexual.”

She would become the blueprint for every woman I would ever be attracted to.

My dreams began to morph into me imagining relationships with women who I belatedly realized I was attracted to. I didn’t know how to navigate it. I spent the next two years denying every lesbian woman-themed wet dream, everything I noticed about a woman that I found attractive. I shifted schools but would secretly pine about high school crushes through my Facebook account and years later I would develop a very embarrassing crush on a girl in my high school friend circle. 

She would become the blueprint for every woman I would ever be attracted to in the future. A few months leading up to the finals when I was revising for my exams, I wrote her a poem filled with all of my feelings for her. I tore it into pieces later because I couldn’t bear to see it written down in front of me – could I be a lesbian woman?

 I would stop going to church (I was a very religious growing up), I would fight with my parents and God. I would make small compromises but mostly I would hide because I knew that the country and the family I grew up in would never understand nor accept me. 

Dating as a bisexual and possibly pansexual woman is like playing a game of Russian Roulette.

I would only come to terms with my sexuality in my university years and then also, spend the rest of my college life having to answer homophobic questions from well-meaning friends (and not so well-meaning) in attempts to fit in. Every woman I felt a little attracted to or even suspected I was batting for another team – I would deny my feelings and pretend I wasn’t a lesbian woman. 

It was lonely. Some days I didn’t know how to deal with my fluctuating mental health. When I was feeling particularly isolated, I would watch the few LGBTQIA+ movies I would find online copies of or lurk on in the Gulf section for leads on where I could meet more sapphic-adjacent people like me.

For all the people who hate dating apps and spend time deriding it – I get it but also, I’m grateful that because of those Godforsaken apps, I’ve had my share of good, bad and ugly experiences with men and women.

Dating as a bisexual, pansexual and possibly a lesbian woman is like playing a game of Russian Roulette. You don’t know what you’re getting each time you swipe right. I’ve had propositions by couples looking for a threesome (“We just want a unicorn!”), catfishes (“If you’re really a girl, send me a photo of your boobs.”), women looking to experiment (“I just want to have fun”) and to date. 

My dating experience was abysmal, I barely got a chance to do anything due to having a strained relationship with my parents. We frequently fought because I was too much and if they questioned why I went out (the few times that I did) – they would need a running order of the evening and what I was planning on getting up to while out. The few men I did date – well, mostly just be in situationships with, ended up being emotionally unavailable and I hurt.

Men were very different from women; I had decided after spending three years in university with them. I didn’t particularly like them, but they were widely accepted, after all if I was caught with a man – I wouldn’t be immediately deported or jailed. But men were comfortable, easy – it was much harder to match with women on dating apps like Tinder and Bumble. Most of the women I ended up matching with, ended up becoming friends and I would simply pine in the stereotypical way that all us sapphic  girls do when they couldn’t be honest about their crushes. 

But these apps gave me an Invisibility Cloak and let me live my truth. 

I learned to embrace who I am, I learnt to fall in love, fall in lust and take caution when I felt I was unsafe. It also taught me that despite the way things are here, I wasn’t alone. There were other women like me – queer, lesbian, bi and pan – other people who were trying their best to live their truth, survive in the land of opportunity till they could truly be the people they wanted to be. 

After all, without the rain there’s no rainbow.

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LGBTQIA+ History Coronavirus The World

50 years later, the legacy of Pride lives on

The New York City Pride parade has been cancelled for the first time since its origin 50 years ago. In-person events that were scheduled to take place June 14-28, 2020 are in the process of being reimagined virtually as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pride is a staple in New York City, as it has been since the Stonewall Riots prompted a revolution in June of 1969. The fight for gay-rights as we know it was born and catalyzed here. America in the 1960’s, and in the decades that came before it, was not at all welcoming for those in LGBTQIA+ community. In New York, any inclination of sexual activity between people of the same sex in public was considered illegal. That is, hand holding, kissing, or even dancing. This antiquated and ridiculous law was not overturned until 1980 when the People v. Ronald Onofre case was decided. 

These times were also riddled with discrimination and a series of raids among other forms of abuse on prominent gay bars and clubs in Greenwich village. Such spaces were some of the only places where members of the community could seek refuge and were finally able to express themselves openly without worry. Nonetheless, police brutality on the basis of sexual orientation and just plain bigotry was awfully common during these raids.  

On the night of June 28, 1969 obvious tensions arose between the two groups, and the patrons bravely decided to fight back against the police at the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar that was one of the few of its kind that opened its doors to drag queens. Notably, the first bottle of the uprising, which lasted six whole days, was thrown by a Black transgender woman, Marsha P. Johnson. The protesters were met time and time again with tear-gas and physical altercations with the police, but they persisted. Those in the street are said to have been singing slogans similar to the ones that we hear today like “gay power” and “we shall overcome.” 

It would be an injustice to ignore the contributions of the Black community to this iconic moment that started a resistance.

This moment sparked the beginning of a modern resistance that is beautifully laced with love and versatility. 

It would be an injustice, however, to ignore the coincidences of this past that align with the current civil rights demonstrations happening across the world, declaring defiantly that Black lives matter. Both movements continue to feature a spotlight on recognizing basic human rights while also condemning police practices that terrorize the communities they are meant “to serve and protect.” So much of American history is patterned with this same struggle, consistency, and perseverance. Not to mention that it was, in fact, Black women who spearheaded this revolution 51 years ago, and 51 years later Black women are again at the forefront of a movement seeking to eradicate systemic inequality. We must not let this go unnoticed.

The year after what has come to be known as the Stonewall riots, June of 1970, marked the first ever Pride parade in New York City. Though it took a long time to come, the LGBTQIA+ community has certainly overcome much of the hate and marginalization that has been thrown its way. But, they’re still fighting. To this day, new non-discrimination protections are being fought for and passed all because of their constant effort and strength. 

Since then, New York City and its Pride parade has been a proven safe-haven for vulnerable and battered communities alike. It is a time for people to come together and celebrate themselves as phoenixes who have risen way above the ashes while also acknowledging the slashed history that they are eternally attached to. 

Just last year, New York City hosted world WorldPride and some 2 million people were in attendance. This in and of itself is a testament to the impact that the revolution has had, and continues to have, all over the world. Such ever-clear and unrelenting perseverance is nothing less of an inspiration. 

Today, as the coronavirus runs its raging course throughout the United States, New York City has been noticeably hit the hardest. With nearly 212,000 confirmed cases and over 20,000 deaths thus far in the City alone, New Yorkers are being urged to remain full of the hope and drive that makes us so thick-skinned in the first place. But, this is not an easy feat, especially given the turmoil that seems to be slowly encapsulating every bit of our daily lives. Once again, we have set out in a movement that looks to challenge history and change it for good. For the LGBTQIA+ community, that anxiety is heightened tremendously. 

The absence of the iconic Pride parade will certainly have a dramatic financial impact on the people and businesses that have come to rely on it. Not to mention the mental toll that will surely come along without a break from mobilizing, resource, or strategy efforts concerning the ongoing, and seemingly never-ending, fight for equal rights. It is certainly an all-hands-on-deck sort of thing. This fight is fought every single day, with the smallest actions sometimes making the most noise, and none of it should go unnoticed. 

The contributions that the LGBTQIA+ community has made to both the City and to the greater struggle for equality are undeniable. So, the decision to cancel Pride this year was not easy. But, it was definitely necessary. However, just because the pandemic prevents us from physically coming together this year, it does not mean that the spirit of Pride in New York City won’t be felt just the same.

An online Global Pride will be broadcasted for 24-hours straight on June 27, starting in the east and moving west. Each local or participating pride chapter is hoped to have an allotment of 15-minutes of airtime each, depending on individual time zones, for performances and speeches by grand marshals. This is a community that has always come together in the face of adversity and this year is no different. My wish is for this to be yet another example of the LGBTQIA+ communities resilience that should be honored and remembered, especially in a context of human rights.

LGBTQIA+ Gender Love Inequality

An open letter to the LGBTQIA community, from a Muslim

It’s hard being an ally of the LGBTQIA community, as a Muslim. I have to pick and choose my battles, the issues to speak up about, the times I show support. Risking alienation or disapproval by community members or family is something I feel extreme guilt and fear about all the time when the rest of the world already wants to reject me. My place as a role model or good Muslim woman would be jeopardized and the privileges I’ve had growing up could quickly vanish in ways I’m not sure I am prepared for.

It’s even harder being a member of the LGBTQIA and Muslim community. That is a lonely intersection and invisibility that goes unnoticed, invalidated and rejected.

In this holy month of Ramadan, our hearts are supposed to be more soft and open, so I pray that those of you looking for sanctuary when that peace has now been violated know we are here for you.

I also pray other Muslims with strong voices and faces to use this opportunity to not simply condemn violence we are not as a group responsible for, as no faith is obligated to represent one hateful man, but to reaffirm our love for all our queer brothers and sisters who may be feeling lost, triggered and alone.

We know this shooting is not justified in our faith or any faith. The oft repeated Quranic verse we share every time a tragedy like this occurs is this: “…whoever kills a soul, it is as if he had slain mankind. And whoever saves one, it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.” (5:33) In the wake of Pulse: that’s mankind slain, 49 times.

It’s incredibly disappointing and frustrating to see the relevant parts of the Orlando shooting narrative (the victims were all Latinx and LGBT) be erased by so many people in their eagerness to say something. Muslims and non-Muslims who want to ignore the issue of homophobia and generalize the victims as simply “innocent people” or “innocent Americans” are no better than those shouting “All Lives Matter” in a discussion on police brutality in black communities or those who talk about violence against men instead of addressing the prevailing sexism that permits the abuse of women by men in power. 

I might fear once again walking around as a visibly Muslim person, something that has caused me to go through numerous cycles of anxiety, depression and guilt, but this is nothing compared to what the LGBTQIA community is enduring. I read the stories and messages of friends, community members and strangers. My heart aches to hear of their pain, sadness and anger.

That’s why I believe we need to make sure our masjids and homes are truly open more than ever. If you have been waiting for a moment to reaffirm your sincere belief in sisterhood and brotherhood for all Muslims, including those identifying as LGBTQIA, then please do so now. Let us center our activity, our grief, our confusion around those who are most hurt and ask what we can do to not let their faith be shaken. Let us elevate those leaders who embrace the reality of the diversity of our community and do not ask us to reserve our empathy for those who they believe are “true Muslims.”

This tragedy is at a fault line. Islamophobia and homophobia can shake us and easily lead us astray. Two oppressed minorities that face hatred and ignorance within, between and outside of our circles.

Or we can choose to remember our Islamic teachings of love and mercy and let that guide our actions with empathy and humility.

Nu’man b. Bashir (RA) reported Allah’s Messenger saying, “The similitude of believers in regard to mutual love, affection, fellow-feeling is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches, because of sleeplessness and fever.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 45, Hadith 84)

We need to recognize the many ties that bind our struggles for justice and humanity, for acceptance and understanding. We should celebrate and be grateful for those in the LGBTQIA community who refuse to direct their anger towards Muslims, but rather towards the destructive nature of fear and culture of guns and violence we have passively allowed to exist. We are one body and we are aching.

I may not know all the answers and I may still struggle with what my faith says about homosexuality but I am also inspired by it to do better. I am willing to try and learn how to mend this broken community and be a better ally, a better friend, a better human.

In solidarity and love, 

Nesima Aberra ❤️

The World

Coming out in times of tragedy is our way of fighting back

After the Pulse massacre, Facebook was the last site I wanted to check. The endless stream of articles, videos, and bigotry that I expect from many of my nation’s leaders was too much for me. But after avoiding it as much as I could, I signed on and saw this post:

“It’s Pride month and I refuse to be ashamed. In light of today’s events, I refuse to be afraid. I identify as bisexual and nothing will stop me from being with or participating in the LGBTQIA community.”

My heart swelled. It hadn’t even occurred to me that a tragedy like this one would be a catalyst for those who are closeted to come out. Further down in my feed, I saw it a second time.

….Is this a thing?

Of course it is. It makes perfect sense. In a time when it feels like there is nothing we can do to feel safe again, coming out is the purest, bravest step that we can take. I know how hard it can be to be vocal about your sexuality when it does not fit nicely into a box.

I cried all weekend, and then I made plans with my best queer friend to be together as soon as possible. It’s not that my straight friends or partner are incapable of helping me, but in the wake of this massacre I needed the kind of camaraderie I really only get from other LGBTQ+ people.

I am a bisexual+ woman, and for years, I was very alone. In a world where I can easily pass as straight, I refuse to. Now, I have a support system that makes me feel safer than I ever did when I was alone. When LGBTQ+ people have a community, grieving is easier.

I have always been saddened by the sheer numbers of bisexuals, pansexuals and other minorities who are afraid of stigma and violence and never come out. We are told our participation in the LGBTQ+ communities is optional, less important.  But during times like these, it’s impossible for us to be excluded from the community. We need to be included. I know that across the planet there were people who wept and didn’t have anyone around them who really understood.

“I never really talk about my sexuality online, and rarely in person. It’s not something I feel is a large part of my identity. But I feel the need to shout and crow and scream right now that I am not straight, and fuck anyone that has a problem with that.”

There are huge numbers of LGBTQ+ people hiding in plain sight, suffering without the consolation of a community.  I know what that feels like; it can feel like there is nothing you can do to sooth your broken soul.

Perhaps now is the perfect moment to take that first step – to come out.

With 72% of bisexual+ people remaining in the closet, this is one way we can respond to the hatred and combat the fear. By coming out, we say to the rest the world: we are in this together.  

The LGBTQ+ community is strongest when we come together. We have strength in our numbers and those numbers are so much lower than they should be because of the lack of inclusion that non-binary sexualities face.

When bisexuality is erased, we deny our own community. We turn away the very people on whose shoulders we can cry when tragedy strikes. For every gathering to mourn Orlando, there are LGBTQ+ people feeling scared and alone, with no place to go to feel the collective support that we take for granted.

Coming out is scary any time you do it – but I promise we’ve got your back.

This is an invitation to the people who are worried no one will take them seriously. To everyone who can come out safely – do it now. You do not have to mourn in silence. We will hold you, we will not judge you, we will understand.