By Nurul Deanna
Ending off Pride Month with a bang, Raya Qonversations 2.0 was held as part of Pink Fest on 28th June to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri with the LGBTQ+ Muslim community in Singapore. Co-organisers, Beyond the Hijab, Jejaka, TheHealingCircle.SG and Penawar, organised this event to allow the LGBTQ+ community and its allies to come together and celebrate this joyous occasion in a safe space. As Pink Dot 2019 was happening the next day, almost everyone turned up in pink baju kurungs!
Attendees were greeted with door gifts prepared by Beyond the Hijab as well as Penawar’s first publication zine, where each sale goes into building efforts for the community. As attendees were reunited with old friends and mingled with new ones, songs from a specially curated Hari Raya playlist played in the background. This certainly set the mood for the rest of the night.
The hosts for the evening gathered everyone to start off the first activity of the night, Human Bingo. This Hari Raya-themed activity was the perfect opportunity to get everyone involved together as they search for the right people to sign their boxes. The buzz and excitement created a sense of community and bonding, a striking representation of the LGBTQ+ Muslim community in Singapore. The first five to get all boxes checked even managed to win themselves a prize prepared by the organisers!
With everyone’s mood and spirit lifted high, it was finally time for dinner. Attendees got to enjoy traditional Hari Raya dishes such as lontong, sambal telur, sambal goreng pengantin and you can never go wrong with some ayam goreng. While enjoying the dishes, the hosts sparked a discussion about the practice of asking forgiveness during Hari Raya. Being queer and Muslim, many struggle to reconcile the two identities as it is usually portrayed as a paradox to each other by society and mainstream media. The hosts posed the question of whether there is a need to ask for forgiveness when their identity is seen as a sin to many in the Muslim community. Others began to express their thoughts on the topic. One brought up that some people do it only because it is part of a tradition, which raised the idea of being authentic when asking forgiveness. A participant even mentioned how they do not want to ask for forgiveness for identifying as queer and Muslim and many others had chimed in agreement. With the tone of the discussion set, everyone began to split into groups to continue the discussion as they enjoyed the food.
The event concluded with the last activity of the night where three participants were given different kuih-kuih Raya to taste and guess. It was a night of joy and laughter where the community gets to feel the emancipation of living in their own identity. Most importantly, it represented a space of what could be in a society that is inclusive and welcoming of diversity.
Thank you to Free Community Church for generously allowing us to use your space!
Beyond the Hijab is an online platform for Muslim women in Singapore to share stories about their experiences reconciling the demands of their religion and the pressures of the modern world.
Jejaka is a social support group for gay, bisexual and queer (GBQ) Malay, Muslim and Malay/Muslim men from 18 to 35 years old in Singapore.
TheHealingCircle.sg is a safe space for LBTQI muslims to embrace their spirituality and beliefs in Oneness with God. This space also welcome other faith with the intention of unity in Peace for the world and the entire cosmos.
Penawar strives to be the place of healing and respite for those who are in need of it through their peer-led support group for women and non-men (people who don’t identify as men) who were raised in Muslim households.