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What It’s Like to be a Transgender Muslim After the Orlando Shooting

2 minute read

As a transgender Muslim man, Izzaddine Mustafa had a lot of mixed emotions Monday night when he attended New York City’s Stonewall Inn vigil in honor of the Orlando shooting victims.

When he first read news of the massacre at a gay nightclub, his heart sank as he saw the name of the shooter, who police identified as Omar Mateen. “People are going to blame me for what happened, but at the same time, give me condolences as a queer person,” he said.

It’s a complicated—and busy—time for queer Muslims, who are in the midst of both Ramadan celebrations and Pride month preparations. Now, they are also mourning the deaths of members of the LGBT community, at a time when the circumstances are bringing an unanticipated spotlight to their identities and activism. Mustafa is a member of the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity, which works to support, empower and connect LGBT Muslims.

“I do feel like I have an obligation, as somebody who has the privilege of being out and being fully supported, to speak,” he said. “Not for the queer Muslim community—because we all have very different experiences and backgrounds—but to speak to my experience.”

“I made the choice to come out, and to come out fully to both communities,” he added, “because I think it’s important to show that we are here, and we exist, and we are here to bridge that divide.”

Watch more of his story above.

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Write to Diane Tsai at diane.tsai@time.com