Noor Al-Khaled shares her personal story of spirituality as a gay Muslim woman, and how the tragedy in Orlando sparked her passion to continue advocacy for the LGBTQ community.

My name is Noor Al-Khaled. I am based in the US, originally from the Washington DC area, and currently live in Oregon.

I am a Muslim and a lesbian. I struggled for so much of my life, finding a balance between faith and my identity. I jumped from place to place mentally, trying to find somewhere I could call home. I spent so many years hating God, contemplating my identity and yet feeling guilt for being condemned for being gay. Or so I thought.

I even went through a long time believing there can not truly be a God, and that religion was my enemy. I felt that I could not be a lesbian and a believer. I felt that I was being forced to choose.  I chose a community that welcomed me, rather than one that I knew would shun me. I began to lose hope and curated a deep despise against God. I could not stand to be hated for who I am.  But, God was patient with me, and accepted me home when I was ready to come home. My own spiritual journey towards acceptance for myself and others has changed my outlook on life.

Everything is not all roses though. There is still quite a bunch of complex emotions and complicated feelings I contend with. God may have welcomed me home, but the community still has not. At least not fully.  I dedicate my time and energy on bringing together other LGBTW Muslims, giving people a safe space & a community wherever I can, and fighting against the hatred that many in our own faith seem to feel against us. May our hearts and souls heal.

Never have I felt more aware of my identity since the tragic shooting in Orlando occurred. My being openly gay, visibly Muslim, and a participant in LGBTQ Muslim activism validated my complex journey, and rekindled my passion for social justice. I’ve felt very much in the cross-hairs lately, so to speak. And that’s a little bit scary, because there is so much bigotry and misunderstanding coming from so many directions.

I have never felt more visible, but at the same time I have never felt more powerful in my voice and words. People are listening to me. To us. And I am proud to share my story.

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