I am a Queer Muslim, and I was attacked by a group of far-right thugs on Armistice Day.
They abused me in the full view of the public, on a Saturday in the largest and busiest train station in the UK, Waterloo, while a busker was singing “What a Wonderful World”.
They felt no fear as they chanted, "who are you, you terrorist c**t?" and were brazen enough to come right up to my face so I would smell their words.
It was frightening and demoralising. The busker had to stop singing and use her boombox to call for help.
I didn’t invite the attack. I wasn’t carrying any flags or placards, not that it should make any difference. I was targeted for my brown skin and beard.
I was attacked for my perceived Muslimness. Those characteristics alone were enough for me to be labelled a ‘terrorist’ by them.
I was on my way home from a Pro-Palestine rally, but aside from my Fuchsia pink fanny pack, all I had on were regular clothes and a Keffiyeh scarf.
I was harassed at Waterloo station for looking queer and Muslim - but what happened to me didn't happen in a silo
Being attacked for the way you look is nothing new for queer people. Hate crime rates against our Transgender and gender-nonconforming siblings are at a record high, and arrests of those who perpetrate them remain vanishingly rare.
Meanwhile, Western leaders quite rightly condemn homophobia but are extremely selective on Transphobia, in some cases inflaming and pedalling it.
In the UK, our leaders target Transgender people in their divisive politics to appeal to the very same thugs that came to ‘defend the Cenotaph’ on Armistice Day.
Wherever on the political spectrum they sit, it's likely that when you hold prejudice against difference – be it hate for Muslims or peace activists calling for a ceasefire – they will likely hate Transgender folks too.
The distinction between homo and transphobia at an international level is important for another reason in the case of Palestine.
Pinkwashing by Israel is vital to look at
Recently, the official Israeli Twitter released a picture of a uniformed IDF soldier waving ‘the first Rainbow flag’ in Gaza. In the background, you see an apocalyptic scene: the carcasses of destroyed homes and streets replaced with dusty rubble.
Those buildings would have undoubtedly had Queer Gazan children living in them among their friends and family. Mostly innocent to what it means to be Queer but knowing in their hearts they are ‘different’.
We, as Queers, know that feeling. We know it takes a superhuman effort to be proud of who we are. These children never knew their first Queer kiss, their first Queer disappointment, their first Queer moment of joy.
Forget flying ‘the first rainbow flag’; they didn’t even get to have their first Queer thought.
So, this flag raised by Israel is perhaps one of the most blatant cases of “pinkwashing”, allowing the country to claim that any violence is in the name of LGBTQIA+ rights.
We shouldn't allow our rights to be used as a tool for war.
The fight against Islamophobia and Queerphobia is a shared one
Queer Muslims like me can’t always hide our Muslimness, just like our Trans and gender-nonconforming siblings can’t always hide their Transness.
No one should have to compromise who they are to avoid being subjected to a hate crime.
No one should have to adapt or reduce their authentic identity to avoid being targeted for a hate crime.
One of the reasons people say queer people would struggle to support Palestine is the laws around being LGBTQIA+ there. Laws which Britain brought in during its rule of the land. Yet here I am in Britain, being attacked by white male thugs questioning my rights here.
That’s why, this Islamophobia Awareness Month, we’d do well to consider the intersection of Islamophobia and Queerphobia more acutely.
All the while, the Queer children of Gaza need you too. They need you to support their call for a humanitarian ceasefire. They need you to see them not just as victims of Hamas but as humans. Queer humans that just want to live.
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