‘I feel like a community is kind of like the root of kind of all relationships’

*Layla, 36, decided at the beginning of the year she wanted to make an effort to focus her energy on Muslim dating apps like Saalam (formerly known as Minder) and MuzMatch, oppose to conventional dating apps.

Layla identifies as bisexual and pansexual – so she wanted to make it clear in her profile – to ensure there weren’t any surprises coming her way when she went on dates.

But after those experiences, Layla took a break from the Muslim dating apps and logged onto Tinder. She remembers one day being ‘super liked’ by this Muslim man who she thought was cute and handsome.

The two hit it off immediately, and in chatango no time went on a date. Their first date was very wholesome and «halal» as Layla puts it. But a week after their first meeting, he messaged late in the evening if he could come by, Layla said yes.

The episode left her feeling as though Muslim men could say anything to her because of the how she looks, from her piercings to how she presents with her sexuality

When she greeted him in the doorway she noticed he seemed different to their first date. He told her after she let him in that he had done cocaine on his way there.

She says men on these apps have told her that they couldn’t date her «for real» because of her sexuality, some have sent overtly sexual messages about their penis while others have made judgements about her piercings and not wearing the hijab

Layla says she was still thinking about their first date, and wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. As the night went on, the two of them got a bit drunk and ended up having sex.

«I don’t think they would do that to a woman they meant through their network. Because he met me on Tinder, because of how I look he just made all these assumptions.»

Despite some of her experiences, Layla’s determination to be clear about her sexuality on Muslim dating apps is a development Dr Hussein says has been happening over the last few years.

She believes there’s been an increased visibility around queer Muslims who are dating, and firm in maintaining both their religious identity and gender and sexual identities.

«That’s been a really major shift that we’ve seen just for the few years, particularly since the Orlando massacre and since the same-sex marriage plebiscite,» she said.

«As traumatic as both those events were it did motivate people to say, look we’ve been having these conversations within these very restricted and private and invitation-only locations but we want to start addressing that far more publicly.»

Often there’s a perception that most Muslim marriages are either forced or arranged that the couple have no agency in the decision they make. It’s a predictable stereotype Dr Shakira Hussien says is far from the norm, and gets undue attention.

This wasn’t the cause for Aulia, 23, and Malick 25, who first met at a wedding in 2015. Aulia is frustrated when the validity of their relationship is brought up by some of their non-Muslim friends.

«It’s true what they say that you get to meet your significant other at a wedding, a new love starts another love,» Aulia told The Feed .

But after the wedding the two didn’t really speak very much, they were just acquaintances who’d met once at a wedding. It wasn’t until 2017 when Malicke was invited to an annual camp run by MYSK, a Muslim youth community organisations based in Melbourne, they met again.

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