Mr. Gay Denmark: “That’s Why I Became Muslim”

Michael Sinan Thomsen Muslim Mr Gay Denmark
Michael Sinan Thomsen, Mr Gay Denmark e Muslim

On August 16, in the Town Hall Square of Copenhagen, the winner of the competition “Mr. Gay DK” (which goes through the Danish summer and ends during Pride week), has been announced (Out & About). The winner has been Michael Sinan Thomsen (in the picture), 34 y.o., who has been chosen by the jury after the people had selected the ten finalists chosen by the people. What makes special his triumph is that this guy, polyglot (graduated in Turkology) and Turkish tambourine player, is a Muslim guy. And he has an important goal: show that homosexuality and Islam are not enemies.

Can you tell us how was your approach to Islam and which were the reasons of your conversion?

The way I approached Islam: I read a lot about religions in general when I was a child (8-10 y.o.). I grew up with Turkish children, but they really didn’t inspire me in that direction. I already felt that the modern Muslim lifestyle seemed familiar to me in a way. Hard to explain, really. I grew up with Turkish families, which were Muslim but in a secular way. That is why my way of practicing Islam is secular. In some ways I’m actually more conservative than many modern Turkish families. Furthermore I have never been baptized, so my mother actually tells me that I never really converted or turned my back on Christianity, but chose Islam from the very beginning.

I guess that the dispute of the Muhammad’s pictures published by Jyllands-Posten and its consequences didn’t make things easier to Muslim people in Denmark (as shown also by the anti-Islam comments on DR). Which is your experience on that?

When it comes to the freedom of speech, I back that up 100% but as a Muslim I wasn’t really pleased with them disputing the drawings or pictures of Muhammad, and certainly not the second time they did it. It is a very big issue in our religion not to draw or dispute pictures or drawings of prophets from Islam.

How do you relate with the Muslim community? Do you go to the Mosque, do you have any friend? And which is the normal reaction about your homosexuality?

I don’t attend mosques in Denmark. Don’t like the atmosphere in these communities. I have a lot of Muslim friends who are really understanding about my homosexuality. They don’t treat me differently at all. However they are very careful about what they “like” on my Facebook page. They are sadly afraid of what other Muslims might think of them.

Do you also know any other gay Muslim?

Yes, but unfortunately I also know gays from Muslim countries who turned their back on Islam. They are convinced that all religions, and especially Islam, hate gay people. This is my opinion: no one is gonna tell me that I have to choose between my religion or sexuality. We live in 2012 and there is every opportunity to live as a modern Muslim who is devoted to God.

Why did you chose to take part in the competition? Did you have any problem since you were Muslim?

I participated in the Mr. Gay competition because I wanted to show to gay and straight people that gay Muslims exist, and that I am proud to be one of them. And furthermore that modern Muslims exist, even straight modern Muslims. I never had any problems about this issue, not even from my family.

What does the Danish gay scene think about you? And what do you think about the scene?

I think the gay scene in Copenhagen is a bit conservative. We want to be so modern and open minded, but its nothing like that. Well, not all are like that but many are. From what I see, many gay people start to fear Islam because of some extremist and not intelligent Muslims we unfortunately have in Denmark. So what does the gay scene think of me? I don’t know, really, but I had good response from the scene after I won. Also from Muslims.

Which are your projects after this success? Will you retire to a private life or will you try to stay on the block?

I will stay on the block, I think. But not as a “reality person” but as a serious person with political statements. I want to help other gay Muslims and fight for the right to be gay and Muslim! I wanna use my title for as many good and useful things as possible.


©2012 Il Grande Colibrì
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  • Assalamu aleykum. Thanks for your support it means everything for me. I cant come to Amsterdam next weekend because i work But lets stay in touch. I really wanna work with you! Please add me on facebook. See you soon insha'allah

  • Dear Michael,

    Welcome in the Muslim world and nobody has a right to tell you are not Muslim. God likes people like you, because you have faith and much lover to give. Congratulations for the prize you won. If you want to join us we are to Find in Amsterdam.
    Next week we will orgAnise an international congress in Amsterdam. read more about it and join us if you want to support LGBTQI Muslims. (

    • It's a good article and an intresting point of view, but it's not "what Muslim should know about homosexuality", it's just an opinion like different ones in a religion which hasn't one leader (such as the pope in catholic church)…

  • Indonesia is not a muslim country but it has the most majority muslim by a country. Our laws based on ex dutch colonialization. there is only one special teritory which is called Aceh that is permitted to use syariah. but no death penalty on same sex. gay life in Indonesia is much much better than any major muslim whatsoever.that is why some radicalist or separatist in here try to rebuild the idea of islamic nation of indonesia.there is no way they can do it.because indonesia is so diversify. bali with majority in hindhuism.batak,papua,ambon,manado,timor with christianity which is so hard for them. i think indonesia one of the best gay experience in asia.

  • As for your quote of the Quran: "There is no compulsion in religion." Please don't take me for a fool! Why would there be punishment by death for heresy, apostasy, and for the infidels? The meaning is that in the end one cannot force deep belief on people, though one can force them to comply outwardly (islam=submission), even on pain of death. And that is what Islam is in the business of doing: forcing outward compliance, on pain of punishment that may well include death. Of course there is "compulsion in religion" in the lands of Islam. The burdens placed on non-Muslims are simply too onerous to be ignored, and many, over the past 1350 years, when living under Muslim rule, have succumbed in order to avoid the dhimmi condition. And that succumbing, that yielding, demonstrates perfectly the "compulsion in religion" that Islam demands, whatever naive and unschooled interpretation of 2.256 any Infidel idiot chooses to give it. Muslims know better.

    • Dear Walter, I'm sorry if I was unclear: for me, it isn't so simple to express complex discourses in English.
      It is clear that in many Muslim communities there is compulsion in religion and nobody wants to deny it: every week, on this website, we talk about homosexuals threatened, persecuted or killed in countries with a Muslim majority.
      I just wanted to say that there are strong currents of progressive Islam that think there shouldn't be compulsion in religion – and they think so because it's written in the Qur'an, not because they are less faithful or less devout Muslims.
      Personally, I prefer this progressive interpretation and I think that unfortunately the sacred books, when they are used to justify the worldly power, can be easily manipulated: think of the rich Catholic Church, which claims to be the spiritual heir of a person who glorified poverty…
      I add only two observations. Islam means submission, but clearly every monotheism is submission, since each monotheism requires the acceptance of a higher being who determines unquestionably the good and the evil. Here, too, is a matter of interpretation: "submission" can be interpreted as a personal acceptance of a system of ethical rules or as imposition of obligations to other people.
      With regard to conversions, unfortunately, the situation has worsened in recent centuries, with the fall of the Islamic countries (and in particular of the Ottoman Empire) under the colonial powers and the feeling that the Islamic religion was under siege. Jewish and Christian communities have survived relatively peacefully for centuries in the heart of Islamic empires (Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt…). The special tax that non-Muslims had to pay (dhimma) was motivated (or should be motivatived) by the fact that they didn't contribute to works of charity (zakat), that represent one of the fundamental religious obligations of a Muslim.
      I remember the case of Spain, because it has passed through religions more than other countries. Under the Arab kingdoms, the conversion to Islam was very slow and spread especially in poor rural areas. With the Christian "reconquest", Islam was swept away. Today undoubtedly the situation is reversed: the imposition of religion is more prevalent in Muslim countries than in Christian ones. But we hope that all Muslim communities rediscover tolerance, which in the past was their proverbial characteristic.

  • As I said, the gays in the muslim countries are the courageous ones, and I truly hope that they get all the support they need. Albania is a good example and if they can keep islam and the secular separate, and continue the gay-friendly laws, it will be interesting to follow closely what happens there. Albania will be the canary in the coal mine. As for the progressive muslims, I'll do my research and importantly see what the word progressive means for them, where they're located and if they really have East-West contacts and are not only some Western elitist group of muslim liberals. Anyway, the conversation was interesting and I thank you for your patience.

  • Sorry, question not complete: As recommended by their religion, will some muslim gays help or fight for the introduction of Islam in our countries, do they think they will be able to control which islam will be introduced? Or will they protest against the sharia tribunals and sharia zones recently introduced in London? As for the progressive muslims, I've never heard or seen them, where are they, who are they, do they have a blog, a site, because they need to get supported, or protected more like!

    • Dear Walter, countries with a Muslim majority aren't a monolith, as countries with a Christian majority: Flanders are very different from Uganda, for example. If homosexual people in Saudi Arabia are sentenced to death, in Turkey, Indonesia or Jordan they can establish associations, journals, meeting places (see our interview to the most important Jordanian LGBTQ* activist, Kali, for example). And Albanians, with a Muslim majority, have more advanced laws against homophobia than Italians, with our Christian majority…
      The progressive Muslim groups are active in many Muslim-majority countries, as well as in Europe and America. They aren't very visible in the media (an Islamic terrorist increases the TV audience, a progressive Muslim not…) and they strongly oppose to the imposition of religious laws. On the other hand, the Quran (2:256) says: "There is no compulsion in religion."

  • I agree and am glad that living as an openly gay muslim is possible in a non-muslim country, but I'd like you to tell me which muslim country accepts openly gay muslims. I know that some countries merely tolerate it, but that's very ephemerous and frought with danger. The only Middle Eastern country accepting Gay Prides is up to now Israel, which is a "mecca" for arab gays. I've been active for 40 years (yes, I'm THAT old!) in gay movements and still am, but I worked abroad for my job quite a lot, and sometimes I realized that I had to keep my mouth firmly shut if I wanted to keep my job or remain alive. I have many muslim gay friends, and in little Flanders we have a sympathic gay muslim association called Shouf-Shouf. Of course they're all moderates because they choose to ignore big chunks of their religion, which means that they consider themselves as muslims, but will be rejected by most other muslims, not to mention by the radicals who do not recoil from intimidation, threats, violence and killing. Radicals who by the way get more numerous in our countries by the day and exert more and more influence worldwide. In ignoring chunks of of their religion, moderate muslims also choose for "bid'ha" (innovation, change) which is considered a heresy, also punishable under Sharia. One could also ask then if philosophically they can call themselves muslims… So you see, it is not (yet) dangerous for a muslim to be openly gay in our countries, the courageous ones live in the muslim countries. But my question is this: As also recommended by their religion, will some gay muslims help or fight for the introduction of Islam in our countries ? I think they should first ask gay ARAB muslims…

  • Walter Pfannschmidt, if you want to practice the Islam of centuries ago, you can do so and there are Muslim states where you can live them; however, it is not the way of all Muslims. The gentleman lives in Denmark, not in a Muslim state, and I live in America, and we have the freedom of speech and the legal right to live our lives fully. Your laws will not supersede the laws of these lands. So living one's life as Muslim and gay is possible. If you do not accept an alternative that does not deter me from living my life as a Muslim. You have no control over Allah.

  • That's (unfortunately) NOT all.
    If you read only the cryptic coran you will not find much about homosexuality indeed, but islam is not only the coran, "under islamic jurispudence, homosexuality is not only a sin, but a punishable crime against God. How it is dealt with differs between the four mainline schools of Sunni jurisprudence today, but what they all agree upon is that it is worthy of a severe penalty.
    In the Hanafi school of thought, it is first punished through harsh beating, and if he/she repeats the act, the death penalty is to be applied.
    As for the Shafi`i school of thought, the homosexual receives the same punishment as adultery (if he/she is married) or fornication (if not married). This means, that if the homosexual is married, he/she is stoned to death, while if single, he/she is whipped 100 times. Hence, the Shafi`i compares the punishment applied in the case of homosexuality with that of adultery and fornication. The Hanafi differentiates between the two acts because in homosexuality, anal sex [something that is prohibited, regardless of orientation] may also be involved, while in adultery [and fornication], the penis/vagina (which are reproductive parts) are involved. Some scholars, based on the Qur'an and various ahadith, hold the opinion that the homosexual should be thrown from a high building or stoned to death[1] as a punishment for their crime, but other scholars maintain that they should be imprisoned until death. Another view is that between two males, the active partner is to be lashed a hundred times if he is unmarried, and killed if he is married; whereas the passive partner is to be killed regardless of his marital status. Info from WikiIslam found on Google.

    • Walter Pfannschmidt, Islam is characterized by so many different points of view. If you judge the homophobic points of view as the only real ones and you deny the value of other points of view, you are unwittingly reinforcing the homophobes and weakening the progressives.

  • Dear Walter*,
    Islam doesn't forbids his sexuality. There are many people between Muslims that think this way, but not everyone thinks that the Koran says this…
    It all starts with Sodom in the Bible, but for some scholar the theme is different from the main interpretation: Sodom people was guilty because they raped people, not because of anal sex between two men…
    That's all…
    About Islamic countries, I guess that the guy sees things too easy: but it's difficult to understand the situation when you come from such a country like Denmark.

    (* I guess your name is Walter, as I just read the same words on a FB post, written by a guy with this name…)

    • Caro Michele,
      Dio ha punito la gente di Sodom per il loro egoismo e mancanza di ospitalità verso gli ospiti alla loro città e la comunità. L'orgoglio della gente, auto-indulgenze era segni che avevano girato a partire dal Dio.

      Dio ha ricompensato Lot e la sua famiglia perché Lot aveva indicato l'ospitalità generosa agli sconosciuti,anche nella misura di offerta della sua figlia agli ospiti per i loro piaceri sessuali. (Le abitudini e gli standard di ospitalità oggi sono molto differenti e riflettono la dignità delle donne e dei bambini.)

      Quando la moglie del Lot ha guardato indietro (la pietà del Dio data lei permettendo che lei sfugga alla punizione di Sodom) ha mostrato la sua mancanza di fede in Dio. Come ricompensa supplementare al Lot per la sua fede costante, il Dio ha trasformato la moglie una colonna di sale. In quell'era, il sale era molto prezioso ed il Lot è diventato molto ricco a causa del dubbio della sua moglie di ultima pietà del Dio. Ironia divina?

      Che cosa sembra essere dimenticato in queste osservazioni sono i principi di Islam e di Cristianità: Pace del Dio(Islam) ed Amore del Dio (Cristianità). Sull'emissione della presentazione, non riesco a vedere alcuna differenza radicale (come “di base„) fra loro come nostra relazione con Dio. Ogni “termine„ definisce la nostra relazione con Dio come nostro fuoco di devozione e non su noi stessi. Entrambe le parole illuminano insieme quella relazione Divina.

    • Mi piacerebbe rispondere ma devo segnalare due cose: A)qui i commenti sono in inglese perché l'articolo è in inglese; b) non riesco a capire letteralmente cosa l'anonimo vuole dire…
      (I'd like to answer, but I have to note two things: here there are comments in English, since the article is published in English; and I don't really understand the meaning of your words, dear Anonymus…)

  • "No one can tell me to choose between religion and sexuality" How noble and idealistic, but the religion he chose forbids and punishes his sexuality. The cute boy has fallen for the lies of the media or his muslim friends who practice "taqqiya" i.e. lying for the benefit of islam. I hope that he will discover for himself, rather sooner than later, what happens to gays in Iran, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, etc… all in the name of the REAL islam and according to sharia law which is inescapable, undisputable and unchangeable. Even Turkey is lately turning back the clock, and islam is slowly overwinning secularism as islam orders it. He says he wants to fight for it, with words? Let him not forget that the principle of free speech is forbidden and worthless in islam, see how muslims react to cartoons or to any open discussion about islam, which by the way means submission… Words won't protect him from violence or danger, and I hope that (islamo)realism will surmount his love for exoticism.

    • "Sharia law […] is inescapable, undisputable and unchangeable". What a surprise! Your statement is so unrealistic that even Islamic fundamentalists disagree in the interpretation of sharia. And, if we look to Muslim progressives, sharia is even more far from the monolithic image that you propose.
      And speaking of taqqiya: your interpretation is the one proposed by the extreme right, by those waving the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. So, who is mystifying reality?

    • Islam is beautiful. Not sure why you have such hate for it, but just like you ended your post with a 'hope', I hope that you become open to the truth, God willing.

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