Spotlight: Najva Sol, writer, multimedia artist, and Love InshAllah contributor!Posted: January 27, 2012
Najva Sol was born in Maryland, then moved to Iran for a few years in early childhood. She’s studied a broad range of subjects, from poetry to photography to sociology in an effort to best understand and tell the stories of herself and her community. She involved in work with her art collective, Lowbrow Society for the Arts, which curates incredible events and provides support for emerging artists (especially LGBTQ/people of color/women). She has also been working on a queer film photography portrait series in collaboration with illustrator Molly Crabapple to be featured by Lomography. She is also working on a memoir.
An excerpt from Najva’s story, “The First Time”:
“Alex tells me that he isn’t intimidated by my attraction to girls. He is far away and I am young, so I sleep with one and think it’s my first time. I forget to count all the childhood explorations. The girl has pink, mermaidlike hair, I have a curly purple mane, and we bond over Facebook. We are best friends the entire school year, living in the same dorm, sharing coffee at 5:00 am when projects are due, reading too much Chuck Palahniuk. Finally, sweetly tipsy, the last night of freshman year, we fall into bed together. It is easy and satisfying, like a chocolate bar from a vending machine. Ohhhh, I think to myself, this is what sex is like for most people. It’s cut short due to roommates and train schedules, but I want more. I want to sleep with a girl who isn’t just a friend.”
To read the rest of Najva’s story, order Love InshAllah today
Why were you drawn to this project?
I was actually contacted about submitting right after I opened at the Nuyorican Cafe for Wajahat Ali. I was ecstatic because – though I’m no longer a practicing Muslim – culturally Islam is a big part of my identity. My identity contains multitudes, and though I’m comfortable with that now, I’ve been lucky to have support to get to a place where I can accept all the facets of myself. I can assure you. growing up, there weren’t many queer Muslim folks to look up to or feel connected with!
What was the most challenging part of sharing your story?
Trying not to think about what people would think when they read it. It’s hard enough to stop yourself from censoring certain things, and I was writing openly about gay sex in an anthology I’m sure both of my parents will get their hands on!
If there’s one thing you hope that readers will take away from your story, what is it?
Sometimes, you have to trust those you love to support you even if it’s tough. Ok, that sounds super preachy. How about to allow yourself freedom from the guilt that comes from any form of sexual expression, which is totally in line with the philosophy of the book. Extra credit if you can be proud of your sexuality!
Anything else you want to share?
There’s a few great resources: BibiSF in San Francisco for South-West Asian/North African (SWANA) LGBTQ folks, and Degarbash for queer Iranians.