The memoir We Have Always Been Here is a stirring affirmation of everyone’s right to determine their own identity. Born in Pakistan, Samra Habib immigrated to Canada with her family when she was seven. When Habib was still in high school, experiencing the eye-opening mixture of cultures in Toronto, her conservative parents pushed her into an arranged marriage with a cousin. She refused to consummate it and eventually ran away from home. Into her twenties, she continued to explore worlds that had been closed to her when growing up, became a journalist, and eventually came out as a lesbian. Throughout her journey, Habib’s commitment to feminism deepened and she maintained a personal relationship with Allah. In the final section of the book, she ably attests to how LGBTQ Muslims do exist, how they indeed “have always been here.”

We Have Always Been Here: A Gay Muslim Memoir, by Samra Habib. Published by Viking Canada. The editor is David Ross and the agent is Samantha Haywood. We Have Always Been Here is a finalist for the Publishing Triangle’s Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction; the winner will be announced on April 30.