"How I Came Out of the Closet, Converted to Islam, and Found My True Self" by Aamina Khan
How I Came Out of the Closet, Converted to Islam, and Found My True Self  - Click link in title to read Aamina Khan's article in  them.   Photo by Lia Clay

How I Came Out of the Closet, Converted to Islam, and Found My True Self - Click link in title to read Aamina Khan's article in them. Photo by Lia Clay


Aamina Khan interviews, Black Muslim author and activist Blair Imani and uplifts the beauty, struggle and strength of being a queer woman of faith. Speaking with candor and confidence, Imani illuminates how she has found peace and space to be both queer and Muslim, in a society that is often determined to define womanhood, religion and queerness from a White, Judeo-Christian, binary...and biased perspective.

Genre - Non-fiction
Text Structure - Article/Interview
Themes -  queer Muslim womanhood, self-knowledge/love, challenging stereotypes, finding a voice, celebrating identity, advocacy

Rings of Culture represented -

Gender: non-binary/genderqueer
Orientation: LGBTQ
Religious: Muslim
National: USA

Why It Validates,Affirms, Builds & Bridges (VABB's)-  

  • Khan affirms the loneliness that she has felt being a queer person of faith and this will resonate with many students marginalized because of their religion and/or orientation.

    • Khan further expresses the emotion of being able to find/connect with others that share a similar experience.

  • Blair Imani lifts up and advocates for queer Muslim women, and this is a voice that validates/affirms as well as challenges ignorance and bias.

  • Speaking aloud the struggles of being both queer and Muslim illuminates experiences that are often shadowed by assumptions.

  • Blair Imani challenges gender stereotypes as it relates to Black women, queer women and Muslim women.

  • Discusses the importance of Muslim girls/women having contemporary role models, support and reasons to celebrate their identities everyday.

  • Blair Imani is an empowering voice for young advocates/activist.

Ideas for CLR Instruction

Set it Off (Into the Text)

Journal Prompt + Musical Shares
Choose one of the prompts below and take approximately 3-5 minutes to write a thoughtful response(at least one paragraph). Be prepared to share with Musical Shares.

Possible  Prompts -  Choose One

1.  What are ways that you have contributed to Muslim women/girls in your school, community being lifted up, celebrated, validated/affirmed?
2. What are ways that you have contributed to Muslim women/girls in your school community being/feeling marginalized, misrepresented?
3. As a Muslim, how have you felt either lifted up/celebrated/valued and/or marginalized/stereotyped in your school and/or community?

The Get Down  (Through the Text)

1. Read Aloud - Jump In Reading

1.   Have one student begin to read aloud to the group.
2.   Another student may choose to jump in and continue reading at any sentence-end punctuation stop.
3. Students should read aloud at least one complete sentence, but not longer than one paragraph (or until someone else jumps in). Students should actively listen for appropriate places to jump in.
4. If no one is jumping in, and giving an appropriate amount of “wait time” the teacher may jump in. In addition, this is an opportunity to provide explicit instruction about practicing deference as a part of situational appropriateness.

2. Discussion Activity - Chalk Talk

This discussion protocol affirms that everyone’s ideas are important and need to be valued. This activity will support  students in learning from one another and making connections with each other.

  1. Write each discussion prompt on a separate chart paper.

  2. Divide students into groups of 3-5.

  3. Give each group a discussion prompt/chart paper.

  4. Each student writes their response to the prompt on the chart paper.

  5. After approximately 3 minutes, students read and respond to each others answers.

  6. Next, each group rotates clockwise to another groups question. While at the poster, they discuss - What do they notice, agree with, disagree with, connect with, think seems important, etc.

  7. When the groups return to their original poster they should discuss and come up with a statement to synthesize the discussion/responses.

  8. Finally, use a responding protocol to share each poster’s synthesis statements.

Possible Prompts for Chalk Talk

  • What struggles do queer Muslim women face?

  • How can we empower students whose voices are stifled by the biases/perceptions that Imani speaks of?

  • What is the significance of Muslim Women's Day?

  • Why might a queer Muslim feel that they can't practice their religion?

  • What does it mean to have a space to be who you are completely? Do you have such a space?

  • How can the gap, between what Muslim's are interested in and what queer people are interested in, that Aamina Khan speaks of, be bridged?

The After Party (Beyond the Text)

A few ideas to extend the lesson - 

1.  Research Muslim women who are activists,  making a difference in supporting other women, and advocating for change. Create a multi-media presentation.  

2. Create a Social Media campaign advocating/educating on the contributions of Muslim women, queer women, trans women who are working for change.

3. Do a TED style talk on the ways to uplift and support queer Muslim women.

Share how you VABBed your students with this Responsive Informational text on Twitter  @responsivetexts and/or @validateaffirm   #responsivereads #validateaffirm