Between Religion and Desire: Being Muslim and Gay in Indonesia



Thousands of Indonesian men now identify as both “gay” and “Muslim.” How do these men understand the relationship between religion and sexuality? How do these understandings reflect the fact that they live in the nation that is home to more Muslims than any other? In this article, I address questions such as these through an ethnographic study of gay Muslims. I argue that dominant social norms render being gay and being Muslim “ungrammatical” with each other in the public sphere that is crucial to Muslim life in Indonesia. Through examining doctrine, interpretation, and community, I explore how gay Muslim subjectivity takes form in this incommensurability between religion and desire.