In the aftermath of the Orlando terror attack – the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in American history – queer Muslims felt the chill when it was announced the killer was Omar Mateen, a homophobic Muslim man who was reported to be gay.
“It was a particularly fraught moment for queer and transgender Muslims because the attacker was unfortunately a Muslim,” said San Francisco artist, writer and curator Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
“It caused a lot of us to feel isolated by our own queer community and there was a lot of Islamophobia in the queer community,” he said. “You were either queer or Muslim, but there is the resistance to say no – we are both. We inhabit both identities.”
While queer and transgender Muslim artists have been marginalized in the past, they have a new platform to share their experiences and their voice in a new art exhibition opening at SOMArts Cultural Center in San Francisco on 25 January titled The Third Muslim: Queer and Trans Muslim Narratives of Resistance and Resilience.
The show features artwork by 14 queer, transgender and gender non-binary Muslim artists from Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, and beyond, including painters, performance artists and fashion designers.
“We can find ways to reconcile the identities of being queer and Muslim and in this case, people are reconciling them creatively,” said Bhutto, the co-curator of the exhibition who is the grandson of the namesake Pakistani president.
“It unfortunately took Trump to wake people up again,” he said. “We need to constantly be attuned to these forms of bigotry and prejudice that affect our own communities. To be publicly a Muslim in America is an act of resistance.”
The show features artwork themed around issues of Islamophobia, racism and homophobia to “highlight the struggles common among contemporary Muslim queer, trans and gender non-conforming communities,” said co-curator and activist Yas Ahmed. Read more