Episode 04: An Ode to the Homophobes

Written by: Buttertoes

  • I’m free to reveal and live my intimate relationships openly- by referring to my partners by name, recounting experiences, going out in public together, displaying pictures on my desk at work or home- without being accused of “flaunting” my sexuality or risking discrimination or being asked any questions.
  • I can marry as a way to commit to long-term relationships that are socially recognized, supported, and legitimated. This fact confers basic rights such as spousal health benefits, the ability to adopt children, inheritance, joint filing of income tax returns, and the power to make decisions for a spouse who is incapacitated n a medical emergency.
  • I can rest assure that whether I’m hired, promoted, or fired from a job will have nothing to do with my sexual orientation, as aspect of myself that I cannot change.
  • I can move about in public without fear of being harassed or physically or verbally attacked because of my sexual orientation.
  • I don’t run the risk of being reduced to a single aspect of my life, as if being someone of my sexuality summed up the kind of person I am. Instead, I can be viewed and treated as a complex human being who happen to be of the sexual orientation I am.
  • I can generally assume that national heroes, success models, and other figures held up for general admiration will be assumed to be of my sexual orientation.
  • I can assume that my sexual orientation won’t be used to determine that I’ll fit in at work or whether teammates will feel comfortable working with me.
  • I don’t have to worry that my sexual orientation will be used as a weapon against me, to undermine my achievements or power.
  • I can turn on the television or go to the movies and be assured of seeing characters, news reports, and stories that reflect the reality of my life.
  • I can live where I want without having to worry about neighbors who disapprove of my sexual orientation.
  • I can live in comfort of knowing that other people’s assumptions about my sexual orientation are correct.

I found this rather intriguing set of “privileges” for straight people which does not apply to me at all. I have to think twice before holding my girlfriend’s hand in public; I cannot put up “In a relationship” status in Facebook and tag her there; I cannot introduce her to all my friends; and even if we fight, I cannot show up at her place with flowers to apologize. I may have to get married to a guy pretending to be straight; if I don’t, I will have to listen to taunts and sleazy remarks from my relatives. I risk being belittled, laughed at, and humiliated if people get to know about my sexual orientation. When I tell someone I’m a lesbian, I have to tell them again and again that it does not change anything about me; that I’m still the same person. Once I start working, I have to make sure my co-workers do not know the truth about my sexual orientation, because I might lose my job if they do.
And all these because of what? – Because I like girls.
It’s somewhat funny, really. One would not think just one specific preference can fuck up someone’s life.
Now let’s see what are the objections that other people have to make about me living my life-

1. It’s against religion

I will refer this part following two hypotheses-
Hypothesis 1– Homosexuality is against religion.
When someone brings in the topic of homosexuality, this is the most widespread argument- homosexuality is against all religion. Due to this, it should not be tolerated; all homosexual people should suppress their attraction towards the same sex and live a life of lie. Lying itself is against all religion. Do you know what else is prohibited in our religion, Islam? Playing musical instruments. Singing. Smoking. Watching porn. Taking photographs and sharing them on Facebook. But people do it anyways.
Consider a scene like this- You are going through the folders of one of your friend’s computer and suddenly you come across his porn stack. You are shocked! You are surprised that you did not realize it before that he might be into pornography. You start realizing he’s not that good a person you thought; that he was not the person you used to know. When he comes back, you charge him for hiding this fact from you for so many years, and then you try to be self-righteous by saying “it’s not permissible in our religion”.
I’m very sure you probably would never think it that way.
Then why homosexuality? How are homosexual people harming you or the society? If you can get along with people you know who are regular smokers, why can’t you go along with people who are gay? What are you afraid of? That they are going to hit on you? What if they are hitting on you? You might feel awkward, that’s all. What else can we do? Let our lust loose when we find you alone? I don’t know how this came about- but not all homosexual people are rapists or pedophiles, just as how not all heterosexual people are rapists or pedophiles. Also do you really want to be that person who forces own religious beliefs on others who think otherwise?
If you can tolerate with people committing other “sins”, why can’t you stand homosexual people?
Hypothesis 2 Homosexuality is not against religion.
The term “homosexuality” has not been mentioned anywhere in Qur’an. It does not refer to gays, lesbians, or bisexuals. In fact, scholars had to come up with a term for homosexuality in Arabic. They came up with al-shudhudh al-jinsi, a phrase that means “sexually rare or unusual.” If the Qur’an mentioned homosexuality by name, scholars would have simply used that term. And just because the Holy Book only talks about heterosexual marriages, that does not necessarily mean everyone should be heterosexual. Because there are references made for people who are intersex- those with signs of being both male and female. This is not a common condition, but it does exist. The Qur’an does not say this condition is “wrong.” The Qur’an offers some guidance for how to treat intersex people in society, but there are many things it does not mention—including their sexuality. The Qur’an also refers to “men who have no need of women”—people we might call “gay” or “asexual” today. Yet the Qur’an does not condemn them.
The story of Prphet Lut (PBUH) is always brought up when referring to homosexuality. Before I get into more details, there are several things to understand about how the Qu’ran can be read-

  • People can read literally: reading word for word, using exact definitions.
  • People can read semantically: thinking about a word’s meaning in the sentence and in other places in the Qur’an.
  • People also can read thematically: finding the meaning of a whole passage by looking at how it relates to themes in the Qur’an.

If we read the Qu’ran literally, there is no argument because it does not mention homosexuality. However, according to many people, semantic and thematic readings of the story of the city of Sodom indicate homosexuality has been banned in Islam. Now let’s go over the story once again.
In the story, the Prophet Lut (PBUH) first advised the people of the city of Sodom to follow God’s path, but they ignored him. Later, the men of Sodom threatened to rape Lut’s male visitors, who were angels disguised as men. God then punished the entire city of Sodom for rejecting their Prophet (Lut) and for “transgressions.”
Majority of scholars interpret the “transgressions” in the story of Lut to refer to male homosexuality. Yet the word “transgressions” in the Qur’an can mean something sexual or something non-sexual. Men were not the only ones punished in the destruction of Sodom. According to the Qur’an, the whole city was destroyed. Lut’s wife is specifically mentioned. Were Lut’s wife, other women and the children of Sodom punished for male homosexuality? That does not seem to be a reasonable conclusion.
A thematic reading of the story of Lut can be found in the Qisas al-Anbiya (classical stories of the Prophets). A story written by the scholar Muhammad ibn Abdallah Al-Kisa’i puts the strange behavior of the men of the city of Sodom in a context that makes sense. Al-Kisa’i suggests that the people of Sodom had taken to showing their city’s dominance by raping strangers. They were showing that they could take what they wanted from others. In that way, people became afraid to raid the city. This showed aggressiveness, stinginess and greed—all things that would justify their punishment. A thematic reading also tells us that the story’s main purpose was to show that people had rejected their prophets in the past, as some rejected Muhammad during his lifetime, and how those who rejected prophets were punished. This is clear from the context of the story of Lut, which is placed among other stories with the same theme.
Now the question is, was the behavior of the men of Sodom an expression of sexual desire? No. The Qu’ran says that the men of Sodom wanted to have sex with the visiting angels by force. This is an example of rape, not an example of sexual desire. Rape is about power. It is used to coerce, control or punish the victim.
I know you won’t believe me. But there are other reasons to think this is the correct way to understand the story of Lut.
In two hadith—or stories of the Prophet Muhammad(PBUH)—there is support for this understanding of the story of Lut. In one, the Prophet Muhammad asked the archangel Jibra’il (Gabriel) why and how the people of Lut were destroyed. Jibra’il responded that they did not clean themselves after using the bathroom or having sex, they did not share their food, and they were covetous (wanting things that belonged to others) and stingy. In another hadith, someone asked the Prophet Muhammad about the penalty for stinginess and the Prophet told the story of the people of Lut.
Based on this reading, the story of Lut can instruct Muslims to:

  • Follow the example set by the Prophet Lut (PBUH) of hospitality, generosity and protection of people who are vulnerable, such as travelers.
  • Avoid stinginess and greed.
  • Condemn rape—and speak out against any use of sexual acts to coerce or control
  • Uphold and respect relationships based on consent, fairness, mutual support and love for one another.

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) never described homosexuality as a crime and he never punished anyone for being gay, lesbian or bisexual. A detailed study of early Islamic literature also showed that the Prophet accepted men called mukhanath. Mukhanath were men who were seen as “acting like women”—they might be considered transgender today or they might have been gay men whose sexual orientation was seen as making them “like women.”
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) seemed to recognize these men were different from others. His wife, Umm Salama, had a mukhanath friend named Hit. Unlike other men, Hit was allowed to enter both men’s space and women’s space—Muhammad even trusted the mukhanath enough to let him enter the private women’s space of the Prophet’s household. However, Muhammad did “punish” him in a way, but not for his sexuality. Muhammad found out that Hit described a woman’s body to a man—which he could do because he was able to enter both women’s and men’s spaces. At that point, Muhammad told his wife not to allow Hit into the women’s quarters anymore. However, Muhammad did not criticize Hit for his sexuality or for “acting like women”—he only criticized Hit for not respecting the privacy of women.
So there you go. I have given sufficient reasons to believe homosexuality, if not allowed, has neither been prohibited in Islam. You cannot tell me just because I’m into girls, I’m going against the religion. You cannot tell me just because I’m a lesbian, God won’t accept me. Who are YOU to speak on behalf of the Almighty?
Thanks to this organization and its website- Muslims for Progressive Values at http://mpvusa.org/portfolio/sexuality-diversity/ for giving me enough info on the topic.

2. Homosexuality is unnatural

Homosexuality exists in over 1500 species of animals. It occurs in numerous species from worms to primates, including Bonobos (previously called pygmy chimpanzees) which are one of human’s closest cousins, and which sharing nearly 99 percent of our DNA. So yeah, homosexuality is a natural phenomenon.
Many people put forward the question, “If homosexual is natural, will we even exist?” -_-
Homosexual is just as natural as heterosexual is. It’s not like if we agree that homosexuality is natural and gay rights were finally considered that same as human rights (because we are indeed human) and is agreed upon, all people will turn gay. And that eventually the population is going to be a halt because no one will be able to make babies. And the world will end with the last breath of the last homosexual. Seriously, that’s your confidence about your own sexuality? People will continue to breed because just as some people who will always be homosexual, there will be some people who will always be straight.
In addition, look at how science has developed over the recent decade- who’s to say there will not be a way for same-sex parents to have children of their own? I want my baby to have my curls, and I want to have that baby with the one I love. Please make it happen, science!

3. Homosexuality is a mental sickness

According to American Psychiatric Association, a mental disorder is a health condition characterized by significant dysfunction in an individual’s cognitions, emotions, or behaviors that reflects a disturbance in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. I don’t have any psychological problems, and I’m not saying that just because that’s how I feel. When I was dragged to the psychiatrists when I tried to come out, they gave me a series of psychological tests, the results of which surprised them because I apparently had no cognition or behavioral problems. I also had to undergo hormonal tests which came out fine. And since academic performance and socializing abilities are two of the indicators of proper mental functioning, I’m in a very good shape. By logic, I don’t see why homosexuality would be considered as a mental disorder in the first place.
Most importantly, if it was indeed a mental disorder, one would think I would be “cured” after seeing three of the top psychiatrists in Bangladesh. But here I am, gay as ever. So I really can’t find any reason to believe homosexuality is a mental sickness.
And it’s not just me. There’s a general consensus among doctors from all over the world (except apparently Bangladesh) about different orientations representing normal forms of human experience. Homosexual relationships, just like relationships between men & women, have been termed as natural & healthy forms of human bonding. If you don’t believe me, just go to http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/orientation.pdf
Homophobia is a mental disorder, by the way. The inclusion of the term “phobia” in the word is a giveaway, isn’t it?

4. Homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle

First, let’s take a look at the definition of lifestyle. Lifestyle is a way of life or style of living that reflects the attitudes and values of a person or group. Being gay can have an impact on some certain, but limited, attitudes I may have towards concepts like homosexuality itself, marriage, liberalism, etc. This does not necessarily define my lifestyle. My lifestyle can be compared to any other heterosexual person’s lifestyle. We don’t necessarily live differently.
If indeed being gay is a lifestyle, it’s my life to lead, not anyone else’s. As long as I’m not harming anyone, why would anyone have a say on how I should live my life? I’m not indulging myself in teasing female passer-bys. I’m not roaming among the crowds and “accidentally” groping girls. Why will my lifestyle be unacceptable just because the society expects only guys can do these things?


Lee Maracle in her book “I Am Woman: A Native Perspective on Sociology and Feminism” said, “To be raped is to be sexually violated. For society to force someone, through shame and ostracism, to comply with love and sex that it defines, is nothing but organized rape. That is what homophobia is all about. Organized rape.” I have not come across a truer explanation of homophobia. Stop being a homophobic asshole. It’s about time.
And this brings me to the end of this rather long blog. I would like to end with a quote-
“The concept that really gets the goat of the gay-hater, the idea that really spins their melon and sickens their stomachs is that most terrible and terrifying of all human notions, love.

That one can love another of the same gender, that is what the homophobe really cannot stand. Love in all eight tones and all five semitones of the world’s full octave.

Love as Agape, Eros and Philos; love as infatuation, obsession and lust; love as torture, euphoria, ecstasy and oblivion (this is beginning to read like a Calvin Klein perfume catalogue); love as need, passion and desire.”

 Stephen Fry, Moab Is My Washpot

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.