Deenah al-Aqsa


United Kingdom

Deenah (she/her) is an award-nominated British Bengali journalist. She identifies as a Muslim lesbian, with strong socialist leanings and a love for comic books, poetry and all things human rights. She is also on the board of trustees for queer Muslim charity Hidayah LGBT, as Programmes Officer.

She was awarded runner-up in the Opinion & Comment category for the Freelance Writing Awards 2021, commended for "making uncomfortable conversations more acceptable and brilliantly navigating internal cultural politics".



Shado Magazine
Resisting tokenism, and why "write what you know" has its limits

The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs a play centred around an inclusive choir for queer women who meet each week in a community centre in Dean Street, ran for six weeks at Soho Theatre this summer. The state of that centre - with a leaking roof and no ramp for member Fi, who is disabled - foreshadows the disintegration of the group later in the play.

We can't forget the role of class in the queer struggle

As the cost of living soars, I'm reminded of how my socioeconomic status has impacted my queer journey. For me, class and queerness feel like two sides of the same coin. Queer identities don't exist in a vacuum; terms and conditions are attached. My hometown is one of the most deprived in the country.

I won't ever be able to come out - I've made peace with that

Though it's often understood as a queer rite of passage, coming out is not for everyone. Far from being the basis for earning or keeping your gay card, I see coming out as a Western social construct. Coming out narratives emphasise the individual, typically white experience.

Lacuna Magazine
The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs preaches to the choir, but still hits the right notes

In The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs, playwright Iman Qureshi uses the conflict and comic relief of a ragtag lesbian choir to ask important questions about inclusivity, safety and solidarity for queer women. I've never felt as seen or as heard as when I watched The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs, a comedy featuring a lesbian choir eager to sing at Pride.

PinkNews | Latest lesbian, gay, bi and trans news | LGBT+ news
Epic new comedy wants to do for lesbians what It's a Sin did for gay men

Iman Qureshi's new comedy, The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs, promises to explore "deeper questions of lesbian visibility". Qureshi was inspired to write her play, which is playing at the Soho Theatre until 11 June, after seeing an uptick in projects about gay men - but not about lesbians.

Hidayah LGBT+
حمد (hamd) by Deenah Al-Aqsa

The title of this poem, حمد (Hamd), is Arabic for "praise". It's about faith and God and family, in an attempt to be more optimistic about the future of the ummah. I hope you enjoy!

PinkNews | Latest lesbian, gay, bi and trans news | LGBT+ news
Non-binary footballer 'told they shouldn't be allowed on women's team'

Footballers have spoken out after a trans non-binary player was reportedly told they should not be allowed to play in a "women's league". The Football Association's policy on trans players has come under scrutiny after an official with the local grassroots league, Super 5, reportedly said a trans non-binary football player "should not be allowed to play in a 'women's league'".

Hidayah LGBT+
The London Faith and Community Awards 2021

Alhamdulillah, Hidayah won an award this week! The London Faith and Community Awards, to be exact. This is a big deal. So much of the time, being a queer Muslim means feeling excluded from religious spaces for being too queer, and not quite fitting into queer spaces for being a person of faith.

Working Under the Presumption of Straightness

Let me give it to you straight - after a year of working from home, I've come to realise that it's really hard for in-person work to be a safe space for queer people. In fact, I dread to think of the...

Deenah al-Aqsa: #ProuderTogether with Hidayah LGBTQI

During Pride Season, we are celebrating the ways we are #ProuderTogether. Deenah from Hidayah talks about how the organisation provides visibility, information, and community support to queer Muslims. 'Beautifully led by and for LGBTQ+ Muslims, with news, stories, links to other parts of the queer community such as film festivals and spoken word events, I happily recommend Hidayah to anyone who seeks an intersectional view of sexual orientation/gender identity and faith.

Dark Horse Magazine
On Bengali Heritage, Poetry and Queerness

A literary essay exploring cultural heritage, religion and queerness through poetry. Poets discussed include Nayyirah Waheed, Warsan Shire, Abu Nuwas, Hafez and Rumi, among others.

Bend It Like Beckham Could Have Been Queerer, But It Still Aged Well

Much like the bunches of dhaniya (coriander) that Mrs Bhamra asks her daughters to buy, Bend It Like Beckham is a cultural staple for my generation. As a Desi child watching it for the first time in the noughties, it was a relief to finally see a protagonist who resembled me.

What's in a Name?

My name is Deenah al-Aqsa. Nearly two years ago now, I chose something monumental to my career, and to my identity. In June 2019, I decided to write anonymously about being a queer Muslim for the first time, and that meant choosing a new name.

The Femedic
Gynaecology's obsession with 'virginity' fails queer Muslims - The Femedic

I'm a Muslim lesbian. Over the past year while seeking gynaecological care, I've encountered numerous medical professionals who have had an absurd obsession with my sex life. My journey started like that of countless others suffering pelvic pain. After several instances of excruciating pain during and around my periods, I went to my GP and asked to be referred to a gynaecologist.

Lacuna Magazine
An open letter to the Desi community on colourism and anti-Blackness

As the Black Lives Matter movement gains momentum, what can non-Black people of colour do to address their own colourism and racial bias? Deenah al-Aqsa says now is the time to amplify Black voices. In recent weeks, the Black Lives Matter movement has been gaining momentum, not just in America where the protests originated, but around the world.

Lacuna Magazine
From an outsider: The reality of being lesbian and Muslim

Protests against Birmingham's Anderton Park Primary School's 'No Outsiders' programme have raised questions about how Muslims and the LGBT community can co-exist. Our writer's life straddles that divide. My identity as a Muslim lesbian is one that I will continue to keep close to my chest.

Featured In

Frances Marshall
Queer Religion by Frances Marshall

This London-based collection created by photographer Frances Marshall, spotlights and celebrates prominent queer leaders in religion.

Press and Journal
Darryl Peers: Aberdeenshire poetry anthology celebrates diverse, rural communities

Readers turning the opening pages of Re.creation: A Queer Poetry Anthology will find that the book has been published from somewhere not often associated with the literary scene: Tarland, Aberdeenshire. Duncan Lockerbie, director of Stewed Rhubarb Press, is happy that an anthology of poetry by LGBTQ+ writers is associated with Tarland.

Hidayah LGBT+
Meet the Hidayah Team!

Hey! I’m Deenah. I’m a journalist and poet, and I started volunteering for Hidayah after being approached by Shelina, the Chair. I’ve written about being a Muslim lesbian in several publications, including the Metro, AZ Magazine and Lacuna Magazine. Before finding Hidayah, I didn’t really have a safe space to be entirely and comfortably myself. As a hijabi and practicing Muslim, it continues to frustrate me seeing queer spaces dominated by alcohol. But also, conversely, as a queer woman...

The Freelance Writing Awards
Runner Up for Opinion and Comment Category

Emilie Filou - Buzzing Christina Newland - Sisters Under The Mink Jonathan Nunn - Vittles Tahmina Begum - The Aram Marisa Bate - Writing By Women Chris Baraniuk - The Nature Gatherer The winner of Freelance Newsletter of the Year will be award a £250 prize.

Lacuna Magazine
9 important, enraging and inspiring human rights stories from 2020

In a year like no other what have we learned about ourselves and what our communities could become? We've braved the unchartered waters of a global pandemic and witnessed the uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement. We have mourned the world that once was, and, at times, dared to imagine a better future.

Lacuna Magazine
International Women's Day: 6 stories from young writers fighting injustice

On International Women's Day this collection of journalism, poetry and fiction celebrates writers aged 14 to 25, calling out racism and homophobia, and examining the impact of austerity and the criminal justice system. We're proud to work with young writers, supporting students in high school, sixth-form and university, as well as new freelancers, to write about the human rights issues that matter to them.

Lacuna Magazine
8 uplifting human rights stories of 2019 | Lacuna Magazine

In a year of political uncertainty and polarised opinion the outlook has often felt bleak. But from the gloom inspiring tales have emerged of grassroots action, of communities determined to continue despite conflict, and of refugees rebuilding their lives and helping others.

Lacuna Magazine
Lacuna Magazine's fifth anniversary: The most popular stories since our launch

It's five years since Lacuna Magazine was founded. In that time, we've published stories from around the world, covering food poverty, migration, environment, equality, protest and more - all centred on human rights and social justice. Here's a collection of our most popular stories to date, written by students, journalists, academics and activists.

Lacuna Magazine
Parliamentary debate on LGBT acceptance in schools quotes Lacuna Magazine

Amid this week's drama in the Houses of Parliament, a Commons debate heard our writer's moving testimony of growing up both lesbian and Muslim While the proroguing of Parliament, the rebellion against a no-deal Brexit and the resignation of Speaker John Bercow have dramatically divided MPs this week, one cross-party debate resulted in rare unity, when MPs discussed the subject of LGBT acceptance in schools.


LGBTQ+ Mental Health Hour: Support for LGBTQ+Muslims 10th June 2021

Lancashire LGBT has started a new Mental Health Hour series looking at how we as LGBTQ+ people can manage our mental health. Our support worker Beth Meadows will host the conversation with Osman and Deenah from Hidayah on Mind, Body, Spirt: a Queer Muslim perspective.

Screening of Gayrabia

As part of LGBT+ history month join Hidayah and Director Kareem Sleem for a Q&A and screening of his documentary Gayrabia. @kareemsleem

LGBT+ Visibility during Ramadan

In partnership with Hidayah LGBT+ , we discuss LGBT+ visibility during Ramadan.This event will be streamed on our Facebook and YouTube channel at 6pm on Frid...