Some celebrities say that all of their fans are welcome, but Zayn Malik is taking the #Zquad to the next level by being welcoming of LGBTQ people at a time that Muslims are speaking out about their community following the Orlando nightclub shootings.
Zayn Malik recently talked about male fans that have crushes on him, and it may get overlooked by the media as to how important it is that he is taking a stance against homophobia as one of the world’s biggest Muslim celebrities. This is especially important since the Orlando nightclub shooting on June 12 has placed a special spotlight on what it means to be LGBTQ and Muslim.
Furthermore, Zayn Malik may have been working against homophobia long before the Orlando nightclub shootings. Although he never directly said so, Zayn Malik did turn down collaborating with an artist that is especially known for pushing the boundaries of being homophobic.
Interestingly, Tyler the Creator asked Zayn Malik to collaborate, according to Billboard, and Zayn agreed around August 11, 2015.
Although Zayn Malik never said that he was rejecting Tyler the Creator for a collaboration because Tyler is homophobic, Zayn did decline his offer.
Apparently, Tyler the Creator claims that Zayn Malik “flaked out” of two studio sessions. This meant Tyler the Creator felt he could go ahead with the project by remixing Zayn Malik’s “Pillowtalk,” according to Rolling Stone.
Spin adds to this with more talk from Tyler the Creator saying that he did not have any images to work with from Zayn Malik, and so Tyler was “forced” to dance alone in the “Pillowtalk” remix. The image for the Zayn Malik “Pillowtalk” remix by Tyler the Creator on SoundCloud shows a hand reaching for flowers in rainbow colors.
Of course, despite reposting the remix by Tyler on Twitter, part of the reason Zayn Malik might have shaded Tyler is due to the fact that Tyler has a history with being homophobic or taunting the LGBTQ community, although GQ says he claims otherwise.
Color Lines discusses the alleged homophobia of Tyler that Zayn Malik likely wanted to avoid, which started in 2011 and stated the following.
“[Tyler the Creator’s] ‘Goblin’ uses the word ‘f*****’ and variants of anti-gay lyrics a total of 213 times.”
While some musicians ask for forgiveness and move on, Tyler the Creator took a bad situation and made it worse, in the opinion of some. NME updates the homophobia situation in May 2015 and says Tyler the Creator made new merchandise that incorporated neo-Nazi and LGBTQ symbology.
In fact, Guardian reported in September 2015 that Tyler the Creator has been banned from Zayn Malik’s home country of the U.K. for being homophobic.
Instead of associating with those that might cross boundaries with the LGBTQ community, Zayn Malik moves in the complete opposite direction.
According to Towle Road, Zayn Malik welcomes gay crushes from men that find him attractive. This certainly is supportive of homosexuality, and it seems to suggest that Zayn Malik welcomes LGBTQ fans.
Moreover, if Zayn Malik was inclined to tell the world that he avoided Tyler the Creator for continuing to push the boundaries of homophobia, it could be a positive addition to the situation currently surrounding LGBTQ Muslims in places such as America, Canada and the U.K.
Immediately following the shootings in Orlando on June 12, it was revealed that Omar Mateen was possibly a closeted gay Muslim man, according to Telegraph.
On June 14, the LA Times said that the Orlando shootings could “mark a shift for gay Muslims.”
Along with Zayn Malik’s recent comments about full acceptance of gay crushes from male fans, since the Orlando shootings, headlines have been focused on the opinions of individuals that are both LGBTQ and Muslim.
For example, Fusion quotes a member of OUTMuslim stating the following about the complexity of being Muslim and LGBTQ:
“Being at the intersection of queer and Muslim identities has always been tough. Usually you are balancing along a fine line of misunderstandings and prejudices that each community has about the other.”
“I often find myself experiencing Islamophobia in queer spaces and experiencing homophobia in Muslim spaces and experiencing both in other spaces altogether.”
On June 21, Guardian published a long essay on what it is like to be LGBTQ in Muslim-dominated countries and sub-headlines it with the following.
“The official fiction, Brian Whitaker explains, is that gay people don’t exist in the Middle East. They do – and for many of them, the attitudes of family and society are a much bigger problem than the fear of being persecuted.”
In the end, the real question is whether Zayn Malik will continue to be a facilitator for tolerance for LGBTQ individuals in the Muslim community.
So far, according to GLAAD, Zayn Malik may have already shown one of the 10 ways to be a good ally to the LGBTQ community. In particular, Zayn Malik made a good effort to accept the crushes of his gay male fans and seems to follow the idea that he should “[b]elieve that all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect.”
Zayn Malik may also be following the advice of Anwar’s father in Season 1 Episode 6 of Skins U.K. in regards to how a Muslim should respond with love to his son’s gay best friend, Maxxie.
Either way, in the opinion of this author, Zayn Malik has the potential to be a strong role model for what it means to be an ally to the Muslim LGBTQ community.
[Picture by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images]