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Samra Habib Talks About The Queer Muslim Experience

Radar
Photo by Jessica Laforet

A space for all

Growing up, Samra Habib felt like an outsider within her own religion of Islam. As a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a small, dynamic sect of Islam founded in 1889, her family fled Pakistan because religious extremists made their life unsafe. Now, she says she's "always looking for stories on what it's like for other Muslims who are not accepted by mainstream Islam." Add on Habib's queer identity, and you've got a life lived at the complex intersection of a religion that doesn't necessarily welcome LGBTQI+ individuals and queerness. Talk about feeling like an outsider.

Habib is a writer, activist, and photographer. Her photo series, "Just Me and Allah: A Queer Muslim Project" started in 2014, finds Habib photographing and elevating the stories of other queer Muslims across North America and Europe. "What has come out of not being embraced by mainstream spaces is that a lot of people, a lot of queer individuals, are creating their own spaces," she says. One of those spaces is Unity Mosque, a queer mosque in Toronto that Habib attends and supports "Just Me and Allah." She's been going there for nearly five years after a decade of not going to any mosque because her relationship with Islam was "tainted" and she "felt like there wasn't really any space for [her] there." During her first visit, Habib recalls a transgender woman giving the adhan, the Islamic call to worship in an untraditionally desegregated space. It's through Unity Mosque that Habib says she "started learning what it was like to be accepted in [her] entirety."

We, humans, are complex and made of many identities that inform one another. We seek spaces for all of them to flourish simultaneously. Habib's experience in seeking Muslim spaces that accepted queer identities was just one hurdle to get over. Another was finding supportive spaces for queer Muslim identities to grow and thrive. "A lot of queer spaces in Toronto growing up," she says, "were mostly white, and I was usually the only person of color there. I didn't really necessarily identify with the white queer community in Toronto." The need to see herself in a community fuels her photo series and the subjects she highlights.

Photo of Leila by Samra Habib

"What I try to do is give people platforms to actually tell their own unique stories and share exactly what their relationship with Islam is and how they arrived at this destination," Habib says. "Each individual is given the space to showcase their individuality, which I think is often times lacking because queer Muslims are typically grouped in a really homogenized way." One portrait session that stands out to Habib is the one with Leila, a woman who challenges Habib's relationship to Islamic signifiers, like the hijab. "She creates her own interpretation of what being a modest Muslim can look like." Other individuals Habib has spoken with range from a black queer Muslim who considers his relationship with Islam to be "elusive" to a trans-Muslim woman finding her own peace within the Quran scripture. They all paint a picture of resilience and are a testament to the power of community.

"Not only has my perception [of being queer and Muslim] changed, time has changed things dramatically in terms of how queer Muslims experience Islam," she says. "There are lots of other people who are embracing Islam even though they're rejected by mainstream spaces, so I don't have to deny this huge part of my upbringing; I can make it my own."

Unity Mosque and "Just Me and Allah" are just a few ways queer Muslims are finding solace in community. It's up to those who identify differently to help make spaces more inclusive and supportive for all. Fighting for equal queer rights means fighting for equal Muslim rights. Empathy and perspective are key; "What queer Muslims experience as a queer people might be different from someone who is queer with a lot of privilege and a lot of acceptance," Habib says. Fostering spaces that accept and elevate queer Muslim voices are imperative to the queer rights movement. Visibility is vital. "I'm just learning that my community is no longer shaped by geography," Habib says. "As long as we have this thing that ties us together, I know we'll be okay."

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Well, actually it's crocodile, but she looks out of this world so...

Winnie Harlow walked the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday on her way to a screening of Oh Mercy!, wearing a showstopping gown.

The sheer black dress featured green embroidery on the front and back, which Ralph and Russo confirmed was in the shape of a crocodile. She belted the dress with a black crocodile skin-like belt and finished the look off with some strappy heels. She didn't leave it at just that. For beauty, Harlow packed on full lids of sparkly purple eyeshadow. She kept her hair sleek and simple.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Though the brand says otherwise, as Game of Thrones fans, we'd like to think the embroidery is reminiscent of a dragon's skin. Not to mention, Harlow looks out-of-this-world beautiful in it.

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Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

That denim kimono!!

Marion Cotillard shut down the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday at a screening for Matthias Et Maxime. Instead of an extravagant gown that's expected of the event, Cotillard wore a matching black crop top and shorts. Despite wearing an outfit I typically don to a hot yoga class, she looks incredible. She completed the look with an oversized denim kimono, a statement necklace, and heeled booties.

Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

At first, I was drawn in by the crop top and hotpants duo, but, after looking closer at the kimono, it's clear that it's the real scene-stealer. The floor-length Balmain piece was decorated with artful rips and dragon motifs. I would like to live in it.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Let's all bow down to the Khaleesi of Cannes.

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Photo by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images.

"It doesn't make you weak to ask for help"

Singer Billie Eilish is continuing to open up about mental health, this time in a new PSA video in partnership with the Ad Council and Seize the Awkward.

In the video, Eilish insists that "it doesn't make you weak to ask for help." She doubles down on the importance of asking for help, and stresses the importance of friends and family being there when their close ones reach out and checking in on them as well. "You should be able to ask anyone for help, everyone has to help someone if they need it." According to Eilish, there have been times when someone reached out to her at the exact moment she needed it, and it helped.

It was particularly refreshing to see Eilish acknowledge that there are things she still doesn't know and has to learn about her mental health. At the very beginning of the video, the interviewer asks her to reflect on her mental health journey, and all Eilish can do is let out chortle. "I think when people hear, 'Remember to take care of your mental health,' they think that everyone else is, and that is not at all accurate," she admitted. "You know, for me I'm trying to learn still to make sure that I stay okay."

Check out the PSA below.

Billie Eilish On Mental Health & Friendship | Ad Council www.youtube.com

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Photograph via @kimkardashian.

"#NotOnMyMoodBoard"

Kim Kardashian has definitely been accused of borrowing a design now and then. But when Instagram influencer and Kardashian look-alike Kamilla Osman claimed the entrepreneur copied her birthday look for a Met Gala after-party, Kardashian was not going to let it fly—and shared plenty of photo evidence to shut down the claim.

Fashion industry watchdog Diet Prada first noticed Osman's claims on Instagram and shared side-by-side images of Kardashian's Cher-inspired outfit designed by Mugler and Osman's dress. "Never get confused with who 'inspires' who. They won't give you credit but they will copy," Osman wrote on her IG story. "I designed this dress for my birthday last year. Nobody had a dress like this was an original design."

Kardashian responded by posting the true inspiration behind her look: images of Cher, in similarly sparkly, plunging-neckline dresses and wigs, and of model Yasmeen Ghauri walking a Mugler show in the '90s. In fact, the only similarity between Osman's and Kardashian's looks is the bodycon mini-dress style, which the two are not the first to wear. Among the images, Kardashian included a blank slide with the hashtag "NotOnMyMoodBoard," making it clear that this was in response to Osman's claims.

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Though I am with Kim on this one, Kardashian does have a history of co-opting other people's work. From being sued over her Kimoji app, to claims she copied makeup palettes and perfume bottle designs, to being accused of copying Naomi Campbell's entire style, it's far from the first (and probably, far from the last) time Kardashian's name will be mentioned like this.

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After delivered the perfect pep talk

When Lena Waithe took over as a guest host on Jimmy Kimmel Live, her first time ever as a late-night host, actress and friend Halle Berry knew exactly how to pump her up. After Kimmel's security guard Guillermo Rodriguez hit the "Berry Button" (a large button on the wall that says just that), Berry came running out in a backless tee and boyfriend jeans to give Waithe a pep talk... and plant one on her.

Berry rolled in as if she'd just jogged from hanging out with her friends to come to Waithe's immediate aid, joking she wasn't dressed for the occasion; but, let's be real, she could wear a paper bag, and we wouldn't complain. Waithe requested the "Halle Berry juice," similar to her 2002 Oscars speech, and Berry immediately had the lights turned down low and jumped into inspirational speech mode.

"I know that you are a force of nature. You are a beautiful African-American queen going after everything that is hers," Berry said before going on to list Waithe's many titles and accomplishments. She jokingly concluded, "And you already winning, girl, 'cause you are dressed way better than Jimmy ever will," before asking if Waithe needed anything else. Clearly, Waithe thought that was all Berry was there to do, because she said no, but Berry insisted she needed one more thing before grabbing Waithe's face and surprising her with a kiss. "Wow," Waithe reacted after Berry pulled away, and honestly same!

Watch the video, below.

Lena Waithe's Guest Host Monologue on Jimmy Kimmel Live youtu.be

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