Dear Ismaili religion,
Where do I even start. Do I even dare say anything? Maybe it’s better to stay silent. My biggest fear is that if I share this piece of me, how will people perceive me and treat my family because of my personal decision.
After being on a journey of 13 years of accepting my sexual orientation, I felt I was at a cross roads with my bisexuality on one side and the Ismaili religion on the other. I felt like I couldn’t have both. In May 2018, I decided to fully choose me and my freedom and leave the Ismaili religion
It’s the most difficult and gut-wrenching decision of my life. It’s a decision that wasn’t made lightly, but made after careful consideration. It’s a decision I never thought I’d have to make. There’s still parts of me that are still holding on to the shame and guilt of my decision. Parts of me that are ashamed to share how I truly felt in the religion because of fear of backlash.
Over the decades you’ve given me a lot. You taught me my values, the power of praying in a community, the strength of being in a tribe, the value of education and many other things. I’m grateful for these teachings and the experiences that came with it.
Over the past year, I’ve felt:
? Anger for not being seen by the leader of the faith
? Betrayal because I was taught that the Ismaili faith was a brother/sisterhood but where were they in my rock bottom moment? and
? Disappointment that a faith that is based on the notion of soul has no affirmative statement.
I feel like I got the short end of the stick, because I identity differently than the majority of the Ismaili population. I feel like my existence is not even acknowledged. ??
For the past 30 years, my religion was part of my identity. Without it I definitely felt naked. Who I am was the question that kept replaying in my mind over the last year. After a 36 year relationship, it’s not an easy thing to get over and it’s been quite the journey to find what to replace it with. I’ve felt a huge loss in my life and I feel like I’m still going through the layers of the grieving process.
Here’s what I do know to be true.
? By leaving my religion, I wasn’t saying that I didn’t believe in a higher power but rather that I was seeking a new way to connect with that higher power in a way that makes sense for me.
? Since I left the religion, I’ve been the happiest I’ve ever been because I get to be completely myself. I get to experience new levels of freedom that I didn’t even know existed.
? Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns. I thought leaving the religion was the easy part, but the more I be myself, the more I see how religious programing was embedded into my way of being even today. So some days are good while others are not.
On a daily basis, I have to make a conscious choice to choose me and to remind myself that’s an appropriate choice. It’s a daily choice to then seek support on days that I feel like lonely and no where to belong.
? By choosing me, I told myself that I didn’t have to feel less than or that there was something wrong with me when I was part of the religion. I am a being of god made with love and light.
? It’s given me the opportunity to explore other religious prayer centers that have affirmative positions towards the LGBTQ2+ community. Let me tell you that being in an affirmative religious space never gets old. It’s pretty incredible. ???
I share this experience with you because I know there are others who feel they don’t fit into their religion for a variety of reasons. For me it was my sexual orientation, but for others it may be because they have a mental health issue, have an addiction or are divorced or simply like to engage in intellectual conversations 24.7. Whatever your reason, know that you are not alone.
My wish is one day that there is truly space, love and support for all types of people.