As a Gay American, Islam Is Not My Enemy

This piece was previously published on Facebook by one of our co-founding members in response to the Pulse Orlando shooting and how it has affected the author as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. Our hearts are with the victims and those affected.

“The use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.”


In the 50’s, Sen. Joseph McCarthy led an effort to purge the federal government of gays and lesbians, convincing the American people that Soviet operatives could blackmail them into treason.

In the broader context of religious zealotry in America, children were warned to stay away from LGBT people, who were cast as predators and sexual deviants who preyed on youth.

In 1986, there were 28,559 reported deaths due to AIDS. That’s 78 people every day. The President of the United States would not directly acknowledge the existence of this disease and the lives of the people affected by it until May of 1987.

Queers have been blamed for hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, both attacks on the World Trade Center, mass shootings, diseases, and every other disaster that has befallen this country in the last half century. And at every turn, at every heartbreak, was a politician or group seeking greater power willing to exploit the narrative written about my community (one of depravity and sin) to unite people against us and to further the rest of their political agenda. To date, the LGBTQ community has been the target of more statewide ballot initiatives than any community in our nation’s history.

I consumed this narrative from the moment I was born. In third grade, I didn’t know exactly what gay was, but I knew it meant shame, derision, and expulsion from my community. In fourth grade, a high schooler in my neighborhood had been kicked out of his house for coming out and a neighborhood mother calmly asked my own, “What would you do if it was one of your kids? I mean, what ‘can’ you do?” In the seventh grade, I begged God (not something I do frequently) for anything but the feelings I was having. In tenth grade, I had convinced myself I was not meant to be happy and did anything I could think of to preemptively cast away any aspersion that I might be gay by any means that I could.

Today, my community was viciously attacked (days after a bomb was set off in a Target restroom as punishment for providing a safe space for trans people) and the country that has spent the vast majority of my life demonizing me, ostracizing me, and exploiting me for political gain points its finger at my enemy — a finger that cuts a shadow across an ocean and two continents.

The man who attacked my community was an adherent of the Islamic faith and, as best as I can tell at this time, a devotee of ISIS’ cause. But if you have ever used your voice, fists, or vote (or stood by idly while others did) as an instrument of violence or intimidation for political gain at the expense of the LGBTQ community, you have no right to cast blame on a faith with more than a billion adherents.

Ava Love,

Charles Severance-Medaris

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