We’ve got to work together: A message back to young Muslim women from young LGBTQ+ folks

Posted by on Jul 29, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

 G’day,

Tonight at the Feast Queer Youth Drop-in Space we heard some of the ways you try not to take people’s hate into your hearts. Thanks for sharing your stories with us.

One of us smiled when we heard you had expected to be riding kangaroos to school in Australia 🙂

I thought that too! I came from England and had all these misconceptions about Australia. Apart from riding kangaroos, I thought it would be hot all year round. I was worried about Drop Bears and I thought vegemite was something you put in your drink!

We were all really sorry to hear what you have to face sometimes with people staring, or shouting abuse.

Some of us also have to deal with abusive comments, or misunderstanding and rejection, or even harassment and violence because of homophobia or transphobia.  So it was good to hear how you deal things.

We also really liked hearing the story of how one of you wore a rainbow scarf on your school excursion … to show to the boy who thought you could only wear blue! We laughed out loud when we heard this. It might not surprise you that here at the Feast Drop-In there are plenty of rainbows … one of us is even wearing long rainbow stockings!

We have a few other ways that we also use to not take hate into our hearts:

 

‘Sorry I don’t understand that’

Homophobia is often conveyed as if it is a joke. I’ve found it works quite well if I simply say in a thoughtful, curious voice, ‘Sorry, I don’t understand that. I don’t understand the joke … can you explain it to me?’ Often the person then finds it very hard to answer. In fact, once they start to try to explain what they have said, they feel awkward or uncomfortable. The awkwardness somehow bounces off me and goes back to them. Hopefully this will mean they won’t say it next time.

 

One day everyone is going to accept us

Sometimes, if I hear comments, I need to remind myself that I’m the one who is correct in the situation. One day, everyone is going to accept us. I remind myself that there are a lot of nice people out there. We’re on the right side of history.

 

Using my size (or lack of it)

I’m the size of a ten year old. Occasionally if someone is being a bully, I have stood in their way, in between them and the person they are hurting. I’ve found that when someone the size of a ten year old girl, stands in the way, then they generally only throw words, not punches. I think this is because they feel it would be taking their power too far otherwise. There are times when someone has to get in there, stand up, and be like a wall. So occasionally I use my size! Or lack of it. 

 

Say it with your eyes

I haven’t been in a physical fight since primary school. Primarily, because I developed a really good ‘death glare’. I’ve found a way to fight back, not physically, but by saying it with my eyes.

 

What of it?

Often ‘gay’ is used as an insult. If someone uses it that way to me, and says ‘You’re gay’. I simply say, ‘Yeah, I’m gay, What of it? I’m also wearing shoes today. Or I’m also A positive in blood type.’ This is about acknowledging truth. But it’s also about contentment. They offer an insult to me. I offer back acknowledgement and contentment.

We were so sorry to hear about the horrible things that happen for you guys at bus stops, and in buses and trains. One of us wanted to share a story back with you:

 

Back in January, I was gay-bashed on a train. They were only 15 years old. It was pretty frightening. I couldn’t face going back on a train for about a month. But then I did. How did I get the strength to go back again? I guess I’ve had to be really strong for a long time. As a Jewish gay boy, back at school I was gay bashed and anti-Semitic bashed. I guess I developed some sort of resistance. It had to be a smart resistance. I think you’ve always got to respond but in an intelligent way, in a smart way.

They were actually harassing a girl before me. She was sitting near me and they were being really sexist. They were being pigs. I was kind of sorry I hadn’t done anything earlier, but then they targeted me. I was trying to hold them off with words, but it was getting pretty scary and I said they had to stop this or I would call the Police. It was actually when I was calling the Police that they decided to hit me and then ran for it. There were security cameras rolling, the Police were already on the way, and when they searched the area they found them. I was glad I was smart enough not to physically hit back. I learnt at school that whenever I was violent back to defend myself I’d always end up on detention as well. 

So this time round, I used a smart resistance. To be honest, they weren’t that smart and they’ve now been charged. They have to face their own parents and me. The court case is still playing on. I really wouldn’t want them to go to Juvenile Detention. They are only 15. I know they will regret it when they are older. And it’s not about blaming the parents either. You can’t control what a 15 year old does. There is this good youth justice program where offenders sit down with victims, and I just want them to learn. I’ve seen a lot of people change.

Like the boys who beat me up at school. I recently met up with those same guys at uni. They are doing really well now. Doing interesting things. And they apologised to me. I can see they really regret what they did. So I know these 15 year olds are going to regret this one day. They’re going to have to live with that regret.

I learned a lot back in High School. It was a Catholic School, but it had a lot of Islamic students and me, a Jewish student. The Islamic students were the main instigators of the anti-Semitism. But I never let this get the better of me. I knew it was mostly to do with the politics of the Middle East and I don’t agree with everything Israel is doing, just as I know you wouldn’t agree with terrorism. The anti-Semitism at school never made me see Islamic people in a particular way.

I had a close Muslim friend who was questioning his sexuality. We may have kissed a couple of times. But it was never going to go anywhere. When I changed schools, my best friend was a Muslim girl from Sudan. We would walk down Rundle Mall together. She would cop a lot of racist comments and I was always defending her.

I am scared about the rise of Islamophobia in Australia and the parallels we can draw with anti-Semitism in the 1930s in Germany. What happened to my people is what is happening to your people now. I know it’s only a minority of Australians who are Islamophobic. But they are loud so it feels like the majority and it is scary.

You know when people say we don’t want the actions of terrorists to change our lives? I don’t want the Islamophobic people to change our lives either. And I didn’t want to live in fear after the gay-bashing, so it was important for me to start taking the train again. There are lots of connections between racism and homophobia. History tells us they are companions.

 

It was really good to hear your ideas. We’ve got to work together.


A message from young Muslim women back to FEAST Drop In

It was so interesting to hear this story from this young man. His heart is so beautiful. He made so many connections. It was good to hear his train story.

And how he didn’t make the same mistakes he made at high school. He found a way to respond without fighting back. We really respect that.

I think it would be good for other young men to hear his story. About how he did that. It’s a story of preventing violence. It’d be good for other young men to hear it. It is a really smart story. He doesn’t want the boys to go to juvenile prison. He wants them to learn. He wants them to change.

And it’s a strong story – the way he went back with strength. He is riding trains again now. Yes, and brave too. Despite going through the problems at school, when he was on the train, he still wanted to help the young woman.

Please send a message back to him from us. Please thank him for sharing his smart, strong, brave, story with us. He made so many connections. His heart is so beautiful.


 

Part 4: when other people make a difference

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