In contemporary times, Western travelers to Islamic countries have marveled in bafflement at the ability of local men (and women) to engage in same-sex acts while remaining committed to child-bearing marriages. ” It is this instability of desire that confounds the binary categories of sexual identification that are common currency in North America and Western Europe, as critic Joseph Massad has insisted in his book Up till this point, I have only broached a set of problems related to the distinction between acts and identities.
I have much less to say about the possible sexism of the broad category of Middle Eastern or Mediterranean cultures, which is not my province here: I am trying to bear down not just on what the Islamic stance on same-sex desire might be, but especially what it means in the West, where this stance is most interrogated.
does not appear anywhere in the Koran, and indeed it couldn’t, because the word is an invention of the late 19th century, when medical societies in Europe tried to place groups of people who took part in similar sex acts under a common category, which they then labeled “homosexuality.” Later on, the community of people pathologized by this term rallied together under the term of their persecution and began to demand recognition, equality and, finally, rights.
The passage from acts to identities is crucial here, as it also constitutes the greatest stumbling block in debates about whether or not “Islam” condemns same-sex desire.
In each case, Mateen’s religion of Islam was isolated as the underlying cause of violence.