6.18.2008

Old Gold: Gay Muslims Documentary

I was lucky enough to catch the last half of the documentary Gay Muslims on the Sundance Channel today. This documentary, from 2006, delves into the lives of gay Muslims in the UK, some who are out and some closeted, with their faces unrevealed. What struck me, which Sandip Roy actually discussed in his article, was the overwhelming importance of "family" in the lives of the people interviewed. With any gay person, it is family that is the issue when coming out, as compared to the larger community. But I feel in the South Asian community, family tends to hold more weight, sometimes to a suffocating degree. In the documentary, it was the families that held power and leveraged that power against the members that came out. One man was estranged from his entire family, including his three children who were being sent to Pakistan to be raised by others. For others, it was of utmost importance to prove to their family that they could be good sons and daughters, good Muslims, "despite" being gay, with one girl promising her mother she would no longer be gay.

The makers of the documentary were also able to interview a set of parents who hadn't accepted their son (yet)* and an imam speaking to the man who was estranged from his family. For the parents, a common theme was how the wider Muslim community would react. For the imam, it seemed as if he was not as judgmental, but he still condemned homosexuality as a crime and should not be embraced. In fact, almost following the imam's idea, a spokesperson of the British Muslim LGBT group declared that homosexuality, while not against Islam, should not be shown off or embraced because of the requirement of modesty in Islam.

While I can't give a whole synposis and can only offer a few opinions from the brief chunk I watched, I definitely can say its a worthwhile movie to watch especially as a precursor to the upcoming A Jihad for Love. Watch a clip here.


*this is a hopeful "yet" added by yours truly

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