Last year the Muslim Youth Leadership Council (MYLC) at Advocates for Youth developed a brochure aimed at Muslim youth who have questions and concerns about sexual orientation and gender identity. You can read more about this, for instance, here.
We contacted the American organization Advocates for Youth and asked if they would help us make a Finnish version of their material. They were very excited about this and agreed to help us out.
We set about revising the texts and links to connect to local concerns, organizations and resources. We contacted local Muslim queers, relevant organizations and queer youth, seeking advice to make the material relatable and useful for readers in Finland.
All along we were aware of the fact that we are not ourselves Muslim and hence risk coming across as ignorant “do-gooders” professing to advise others on theological matters. But we feel that the end result remains a message from Muslims to fellow Muslims across cultures and that our role has been primarily administrative and instrumental (translation of texts, consulting experts and finding and providing links to local resources).
We hope that Muslims in Finland (and elsewhere) who are not straight (or think that they might not be) or gender conforming will find this material useful in navigating their own path.
The most compelling messages we find in the material are an affirmation and a negation. The affirmation concerns respect towards your needs to navigate your own path and to draw on that which matters most to you. The negation: you are not alone. Many religious queers have this initial conviction that they are the only one. Finding evidence that contradicts this, like this link can help to reassess one’s options and available avenues.
As non-Muslims, we also wish to convey another message, a message we have heard from many in the LGBTIQ+ community. It is a message of respect and humility. It is not simply that “you are not alone, you have us.” It is also this: it is not for us to determine your relationship to your faith, family and community or your sexuality or your gender-identity. It is for us to support you in what we have surmised can, for many, be a difficult journey.
We hope that this material can be of some help and, above all, provide connections that might be useful in navigating a path that feels right for you.
The material is available in Finnish, Swedish, English and Arabic. You can also find the material on our webpage www.voimavaraksi.fi under "Ajankohtaista" or "Materiaalia".
We would like to especially thank Hassen Hnini (Helsinki Pride Community’s Together with Pride), Anders Huldén (Regnbågsankan) and Anni Tolvanen, who created the mobile version and designed the layout. Thanks to everybody else who helped out and to MYLC for creating the originals and helping us out with getting these done! More information about Muslim Youth Leadership Council can be found here.