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Title: The making of a gay Muslim : social constructions of religion, sexuality and identity in Malaysia and Britain
Author: Mohd Sidik, Shanon Shah
ISNI:       0000 0004 5368 3052
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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This study challenges many popular views and some academic perspectives on the role of Islam and gay sexuality in personal identity construction. By investigating the lived experiences of Muslim sexual minorities, it examines the complex ways in which individuals can come to identify themselves as ‘gay’ and ‘Muslim’, how they negotiate belonging to the wider society that tends to marginalise them, and the consequences of holding these identities. It examines their experiences in two national contexts – Malaysia and Britain. Based on ethnographic research conducted between October 2012 and September 2013, this study involved participant observation and in-depth interviews with gay Muslims, supplemented by media analysis for context-setting. The study shows that in constructing their sexual and religious identities, gay Muslims adjust their responses – rebelling, conforming, innovating, retreating or merely keeping up appearances – based on how strongly anti-gay or anti-Muslim sentiments inform their immediate surroundings. As a minority within the religious majority in Malaysia, they contend with religiously-motivated, state-sanctioned moral policing. In Britain, they enjoy legal protection as sexual and religious minorities but are sometimes affected by stereotypes equating Islam with violence or extremism. In both countries, these conditions contribute to Islam becoming a primary referent in the construction of gay Muslim identities. However, gay Muslims form their own religious self-understandings through engagement with multiple social authorities, spaces and available interpretations of Islam. Islam therefore becomes a ‘cultural resource’ while the concept of ‘gay’ serves as an umbrella category in the construction of their self-identities. The outcomes of this study challenge the notions that Islam is ‘inherently’ homophobic and that there is essentially a divide between ‘Islam’ and the ‘West’. Rather, it suggests that the experiences of gay Muslims illustrate the fluid and variable roles of religion and sexuality in constructions of individual and collective identity.
Supervisor: Swancutt, Katherine Anne ; Shterin, Marat Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available