Women Lead Pendidikan Seks
June 14, 2017

Dear God, Are You There? A Gay Man's Prayer

As persecution against the LGBTIQ community in Indonesia continues, some people turn to God for comfort and protection.

by Amahl S. Azwar

Dear God, it's been awhile since I last prayed and it’s now Ramadan again. I'm sorry that I've been neglecting Your presence. Instead of being closer to you, I've been battling my personal demons, addictions and personal problems.

I forgot to pray, God. I was too stubborn to admit that, at the end of the day, I believe in You. I was wrong to forget that. But at least, I know it. I admit it.
Some of my friends stopped practicing their religion because the way some of Your “followers” treated them. I admit that I don't practice my religion that much, but I will never forget how good You have been to me.

God, I know that I've been ignoring you for quite some time. I'm not even sure whether I deserve to pray because for some people I'm just a sinner. Granted, I am a sinner. But aren't we all sinners? Aren't we all children of God, still?

This time, I'm not going to pray for myself. For I know that You will take care of me no matter what. All I have to do is to pray to You, personally. This time, I want to pray for my people. My people who have been labelled as the “trash of society.”

Like that old Disney song, to be honest, sometimes I don't know whether You can hear me or people like me. I don't know whether You will listen to an outcast's prayer. A gay men's prayer, that is.

People like me, God, have always been an outcast. Maybe because the Koran and the Bible taught Your followers that we are sinners who must be shunned at all cost. Some people even think that we deserve to be caned, whipped, in some extreme cases, stoned to death.

God, what's been happening in my country lately is very disheartening and I think You already know it. They caned two men who decided to have sex with each other in their private lives. I understand, God, that this is the Sharia law but the way people jeered and laughed at these men’s suffering (they even let their children watched this cruelty) hurts me. Isn't it bad enough for them to be caned? Now they have to be humiliated too?

Maybe my understanding of Islam is not as deep as other people, but I know that this is a cruelty that no one (gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, or straight) should have to experience.

They arrested at least 140 guys in Jakarta who had consensual sex with each other and circulated their pictures to the public.

Why do they hate us so much? Do we deserve to be treated like second-class citizens?

Sometimes it feels like whenever something terrible happens in my country and bad people start to show their true colors, they will shift the people's focus on LGBT people and the 'bad' things that we do. Even writing this prayer, for me, is a bit risky because obviously some of Your 'followers' will read it and they will say that I don't deserve to pray.

I know that at least one person will say that I should've prayed for You to turn me into a “straight” man and completely miss the point that this prayer is not about me.

God, in the past, you've sided with outcasts a lot. Is there any way that You will side with us, too?

I refuse to believe that this is how You want us to be treated, God. I refuse to believe that Your prophets taught their followers to treat people this way. I believe that we are all children of God. I believe that we deserve to be treated just like any other people, in fairness, but, most importantly, with love.

Amahl S. Azwar is an openly gay man who resides in Shanghai, China where he works as part-time English teacher while hoping to become the next Anggun Cipta Sasmi.