We wanted to round up a few queer Muslim women who are spearheading safe spaces and advocating for those who fall at the intersection of LGBTQ and Muslim identities. All around the globe, these amazing women are showing just how proud of their identities and communities they are by organizing, educating, and writing in support of themselves and others.
Here are 10 amazing queer Muslim women who are changing the world, standing up for their rights, and being unapologetically themselves.
Hafsa Qureshi is a 25-year-old bisexual Muslim woman who currently works for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in Birmingham, England as recruitment support for Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service. Extremely active in Spirit, the Midlands section of the department’s LGBTQ network, Qureshi has done copious coordination for the organization, including organizing a Bi Visibility Day event and panel (which she spoke on) and ensuring the presence of the MoJ at Birmingham Pride. She is also an ally of a:gender, an inclusive support network for staff in English Government departments and agencies.
Recently named the 2019 Bi Role Model of the Year by Stonewall.org, Qureshi is not shy about discussing her experiences as a queer Muslim woman online and in real life. She was featured in a MoJ campaign in September of 2018 that promoted its humanitarian values, where she spoke about diversity and inclusion, as well as her own experience as a LBGTQ Muslim woman. She also actively shares her experiences and thoughts on Twitter.
Eman Abdelhadi is a queer Muslim woman and activist who is outspoken about her experience discovering both aspects of her self-identity. As a current Ph.D. student studying sociology at New York University, Abdelhabi regularly writes about identity and the American Muslim community for a number of publications, as well as sharing her own thoughts and experiences on Twitter. With this spark of activism, she has organized a number of projects, including organizing a labor union at NYU, working for organizations that support Palestine, and helping to create spaces for others who identify as queer and Muslim.
Samra Habib is the founder, editor, and photographer of “Just Me and Allah: A Queer Muslim Photo Project,” a collection of images and interviews that capture the lives and experiences of a number of queer-identified Muslims. Her work has been featured in various galleries around the world, including the International Center of Photography in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and SOMArts in San Francisco. The collection is also a permanent fixture in the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.
As a queer Muslim woman herself, Habib works with multiple LGBTQ organizations in an attempt to raise awareness about issues affecting queer Muslims across the globe. She has also been invited by a number of universities to speak about gender and sexuality in Islam. On top of her photography and activism, Habib is a writer whose work has appeared in top-tier publications as well as on her Twitter and Instagram. Her memoir “We Have Always Been Here” about experiences that have shaped her identity as a queer Muslim is currently slated for a 2019 release.
Blair Imani is a writer, mental health advocate, and historian who identifies as a bisexual Muslim woman. She is a fierce advocate for those who align with her identities and has written two books about her experience: “Modern HERstory: Stories of Women and Nonbinary People Rewriting History” and “Lifting As We Climb: The Great Migration & the Black American Dream.” Imani is also the official ambassador of Muslims for Progressive Values, one of the oldest progressive Muslim organizations and one that heavily supports the LGBTQ community.
Imani came out as a queer Muslim in 2017 while appearing on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight and continues to support her community through public speaking; working with LGBTQ organizations such as the Tegan & Sara Foundation, GLAAD, and LOVELOUD; and personal outlets like Twitter and Instagram.
Wazina Zondon is a sex education teacher and speaker on the intersection of Islam and sexuality. She co-founded Coming Out Muslim: Radical Acts of Love, a performance that combines storytelling with social justice workshops and talkbacks. Through her program, Zondon captures and tells stories of queer Muslims and its relationship to family, self-identity, and faith. In 2011, she was also worked with the New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE) on Our (r)Evolution, a series of inquiry to action groups on Islamophobia that focused on the varied experiences and interpretations of Islam. Zondon also writes articles for a number of publications like Broadly and Medium (as well as on her Twitter) about her personal experience with the intersection of being queer and Muslim.
Shinta Ratri once ran an Indonesian boarding school named Pondok Pesantren Waria al-Fatah that was, at one time, the world’s only Islamic boarding school for transgender students. However, the school was forced to shut down in 2016 by vigilante Islamists. She has been able to rebuild, though, and the school is slowly regrowing as transgender youth find their way to the safe the space. A transgender woman herself, Ratri has been unapologetic in her identity, being accepted as a transgender Muslim woman by her family and community; however, she understands that the same does not ring true for so many others in her position. It’s because of this knowledge that she has dedicated herself since 2008 to creating—and, when necessary, recreating—a safe space for transgender Muslim women in Indonesia.
Mahdia Lynn is the Executive Director and founder of Masjid al-Rabia, a plurist mosque in Chicago that is women-centered and supportive of the LGBTQ community. Through her writing, educating, and public speaking, Lynn has been heavily involved in Chicago’s faith and justice communities, placing herself as a strong advocate for transgender rights, disability justice, and more. She also developed the Black and Pink Crescent program, which provides services for hundreds of incarcerated LGBTQ Muslims around the world. Lynn is highly active on Twitter, where she shares her thoughts and experiences as a queer Muslim woman and supports those who share her identities.
Urooji Arshad is the director of the International LGBTQ Youth Health and Rights Program at Advocates for Youth. In her role, she works to support sexual and reproductive health rights in the global south. Arshad is also the co-founder of the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity, an organization that addresses the intersectional impact of Islamophobia, homophobia, and transphobia. When not spearheading either of her two groups, she works as a public speaker and has presented events such as International HIV/AIDS Conferences, the White House’s LGBTQ Pride and Heritage Event, and the National Press Club.
Arshad is also on the board of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. She has received a number of awards for her work, including the Latino GLBT History Project’s annual Mujeres en el Movimiento award and Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition’s We Speak award. If that’s not impressive enough, Arshad also served on the U.S. delegation to the 59th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Plus, she was recently shouted out on Twitter by our favorite lesbian music duo, Tegan and Sara.
Mirna Haidar is a queer Muslim refugee from Lebanon who has served on the steering committee of MASGD: Muslim Alliance for Sexual & Gender Diversity. She/they also founded Z Collective and works as lead organizer and advocacy trainer at the Arab American Associate of New York. Currently a law student at CUNYLaw, Haidar is pursuing her social justice attorney degree in order to continue her advocacy and leadership at the intersection of Islam and the LGBTQ community. She often posts events and calls for support on her Twitter page.
Umber Ghauri is a makeup artist, writer, and public speaker with a passion for celebrating marginalized communities. They started as a makeup artist; however, it quickly became apparent to them that LGBTQ communities and communities of color were underserved in terms of makeup. Combining their support of such groups as well as their understanding of representation—or lack thereof—Ghauri turned to writing and leading workshops in order to advocate for these communities. They have worked with organizations ranging from the United Nations to the British Film Institure, as well as a number of high-profile individuals, and continue to promote acceptance of communities of all intersectionalities.