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