#3

I was so used to a very hostile Malay-Muslim community even when I was practicing the religion and that very community also became one of the reasons why I felt like an outsider. Penawar was the very first (and possibly, only) place where I could admit I was ex-Muslim without fearing the consequences or words they may throw at me. As a queer, ex-Muslim, non-binary but often times dismissed as a cis woman individual, I have always felt like I do not belong in any of the communities I identify with. Penawar has helped me to meet people who were like me. There was no room for judgement or spite. Instead, the room was filled with validation, affirmation and allowed me to not feel like I am alone. It is so easy to look forward to our monthly sessions. By the second session I attended, I was greeted like an old friend – a hug, a casual “how are you” and catching up. The very community I felt love for but is hated by ceased to exist whenever I am in the session but somehow, our discussions are always inevitably revolving around them, our anger, frustration, helplessness, are always affirmed, discussed and validated which made my reconciliation with the community easier (though we are nowhere near reconciliation).