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#Pride50: Urooj Arshad — Muslim LGBTQ advocate

Urooj Arshad, co-founder of the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity, is rewriting the narrative on queer and Muslim identities.

In the public imagination, Muslim culture and queer identity are at odds with one another. Urooj Arshad is here to change that narrative. As a queer Muslim immigrant woman, Arshad rarely saw people like herself represented in the LGBTQ community.

Urooj Arshad
Urooj ArshadCourtesy Advocates for Youth

“I think it's so important for us to be able to hold on to both of those identities,” she told NBC News.

That’s why she co-founded the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity, which addresses the combined impact of Islamophobia, homophobia and transphobia.

Arshad also works at Advocates for Youth, where she serves as director of the International LGBTQ Youth Health and Rights Programs. In this role, she focuses on boosting sexual and reproductive health and rights in the global South.

What does "pride" mean to you?

“Pride to me means a celebration of resistance and taking over the streets and just having a good time, but also honoring all of the work that our ancestors did to get us to be where we are.”

What is the legacy of the 1969 Stonewall uprising?

"To me, it’s about trans women. Black trans women. Trans women of color, and other folks who really were fed up with the way the police were harassing them and were not able to live their authentic lives in spaces that they had created and that they were unsafe in those spaces.

"To me, the legacy is about always pushing back. You know, always thinking about how you can take up more space and not have to deal with all of the ways that the institutions and the police and all these other entities are trying to force you into being something you're not. So, for me, it's about pushing back in a really big and beautiful way."