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Queer Muslim Author and Historian
Blair Imani (she/hers) is a writer, mental health advocate, and historian living at the intersections of Black, Queer, and Muslim identity. She uses her platform to inspire others to be themselves.Read Her Story
Blair Imani (she/hers) is a writer, mental health advocate, and historian living at the intersections of Black, Queer, and Muslim identity. She uses her platform to inspire others to be themselves.
How did you get to where you are today?
Following my arrest at the protests of Alton Sterling’s murder in Baton Rouge, I began using my voice on a national stage. As a public speaker, I have presented around the world in Kenya, the UK, and in the United States at universities including Yale, Harvard, and Brown. In 2017, I came out as a queer Muslim woman on national television while discussing safe spaces on Tucker Carlson Tonight. After I came out, I began working with internationally renowned LGBTQ rights organizations to continue elevating the stories of queer people of faith globally.
How would you describe your coming out experience?
In 2015, I converted to Islam and quickly learned about the discrimination Muslims have been facing firsthand. As I began to wear hijab, my visibility as a Muslim woman seemed to invite harassment. A lot of people assume that I'm homophobic, or that queer Muslims could not and did not exist. I do exist. So that's when I decided to come out as a queer Muslim woman on Fox News. It was rough. I faced hatred from not only the host Tucker Carlson, but people across the country. But since then, I have received heartwarming messages from queer Muslims and young people all over the world, and finally people like me now have a platform.
How do you feel about queer representation in your community and overall?
When it comes to representation, we always have room to grow. I’m really excited about TV shows like Pose and The Bold Type for presenting queer characters with storylines that go beyond that person’s identity.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by young people who speak up against the status quo. People like Isra Hirsi, Mari Copeny, and Ziad Ahmed.
“A lot of people assume that I'm homophobic, or that queer Muslims could not and did not exist.
I do exist.”
What does Pride mean to you?
Pride means being part of a radical legacy of activism and LGBTQI+ liberation started by Black and Latinx trans women, Sylvia Rivera, and Marsha P. Johnson.
What are your hopes for the future?
I hope that in the future when we have Pride celebrations, we see less rainbow-washing and more intentional work with LGBTQI+ organizations and issues. I also hope that we can work as a community to no longer have police officers at Pride because the Stonewall Riots that started Pride were a protest against police violence.
What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?
When I was younger I just felt so isolated all the time. So I would tell myself that “It’s okay.” It's okay not to be the most popular one in school. It's okay to not have a ton of friends. Stay the course. Stay empowered. And one day you'll be more popular than you can ever imagine and you won't have to change yourself for it.
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