Academic journal article Trames

Being a Muslim Gay Man: A Systematic Review

Academic journal article Trames

Being a Muslim Gay Man: A Systematic Review

Article excerpt

Abstract. This article presents a systematic discussion on how Muslim gay men protect their image and identity in an Islamic ambience, which can be threatened as a result of self-identifying and coming out as gay. The overarching question of this systematic review is, 'What has research told us about Muslim gay men?" For the literature synthesis, out of 57 articles that touch on the issues associated with Muslim gay men, 30 of them met the inclusion criteria and were coded. After scrutinizing the articles, the following themes emerged: (i) factors affecting the identity development of Muslim gay men; (ii) societal expectations on Muslim gay men; and (iii) implications of developing the identity of a Muslim gay man. Based on the data obtained, it can be concluded that undermined Muslim character can prompt hyper-connection within fellow religious comrades. The possible directions for future research are discussed towards the end of this paper.

Keywords: Muslim gay man, LGBT, identity, social experience, homosexuality, Islam

1. Introduction

Homosexuality is generally defined as being attracted to individuals of the same sex. It also refers to an individual's sense of personal and social identity based on those attractions, behaviors expressing them, and enrollment in a group of other people who share the same platform. Homosexuality is being perceived as being against the law of nature in many religions including Islam. Individual who are gay or homosexual are described as sinners who do not deserve a chance to carry out their daily routine as 'gay' in public (Zulkffli and Rashid, 2016). Over the years accepting individuals for who they are is more vital and indispensable. Despite the hatred and disapproval of the society, many families choose to accept their kids rather than causing much confusion and unpleasantness. The act of an individual to uphold his identity as a gay or homosexual is driven by many factors, such as self-acceptance, culture, social expectations and rule of law.

In Islam, being gay is viewed as deviant, corrupt, and rebelling against God, which takes off no plausibility for recognizing gay as Muslim (Jamal 2001; Siraj 2009). There have been many attempts in interpreting the Qur'an (which could be comprehensive of homosexuality) by more contemporary researchers (Jamal 2001, Kugle 2003); despite that, the majority of Islamic community does not support this understanding. We can thus claim that Islam is hostile to gay mentalities. Investigations on gay dispositions in Islamic context are minimal in the literature. The few that exist believe that anti-gay attitudes are predominantly negative (Duyan and Duyan 2005, Guney et al. 2004). Explicit anti-gay attitudes have been anticipated by gender, relational contact, and religious convictions (Duyan and Duyan 2005, Gelbal and Duyan 2006, Sakalli 2002, 2003).

This systematic review on Muslim gay men synthesizes research on gay Muslim men and their lifestyle. The prevalent question that is being identified alongside with the three sub-questions is "What has research told us about Muslim gay men?" The sub-questions are:

1. What are the factors affecting the identity development of Muslim gay men?

2. What societal expectations do Muslim gay men need to face?

3. What are the implications of developing the identity of a Muslim gay man?

2. Conceptualizing Muslim gay men

The concept of 'Muslim gay men' is derived from the Identity Process Theory, which assimilates the identity conflict which is presumed to be a part of gay Muslim men's coming out experiences (Breakwell 1986). With regard to that, Jaspal (2014) opines that avoiding cognitive dissonance and achieving psychological coherence is an impelling cause in identity development. Psychological coherence is concerned with establishing compatibility between identities that individuals have an attachment to, especially highlighting the principles of self-esteem and social and cultural worth. …

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