UK: As a queer Muslim woman, falling in love is a political act

In Love, Or Something Like It, our new series, we’re on a quest to find true love. Covering everything from mating, dating and procreating to lust and loss, we’ll be looking at what love is and how to find it in the present day

by Afshan D'souza-Lodhi @afshandl queer muslamic hippie in the machine - call me afsha(n) or dont call me at all - editor-in-chief of @tcsnetwork_

As a South Asian, Muslim girl growing up, I was always curious about love. I was brought up on love. I loved the idea of falling in love. South Asian poets taught me about the kind of love that was expressed in palm trees and mangoes: ‘Drunk on the honey of mango blossoms, the koel rapturously kisses his mate…’ (from Ṛtusaṃhāra  by Kalidasa).

Some people are scared that spouting racism will get milkshake thrown on them. Me, I’m scared that loving someone, and showing the world that I love them, will get me killed.

Bollywood films taught me that love and desire could only be portrayed by two flowers lightly brushing up against each other in the wind followed by high-pitch singing and heavy tabla beats. And my mother taught me about unconditional love: that expectations can lead to disappointments, so it’s better to love fully and love properly and to never expect anything back.

Why should we live in disappointment when we can live in love? But it took me coming out and becoming visibly queer and Muslim to understand that love, for me, is a political act. No matter who I fall in love with, someone somewhere always has something to say: if I fall in love with a woman, I am gay. If I fall in love with a man, I am straight. If I fall in love with someone who is not Asian then I am a traitor and if I fall in love with someone who is Asian, I am a stereotype.

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