MTV's "True Life: I'm Fighting My Faith" followed two people who are finding religion but worry they may be losing themselves in the process. We had an opportunity to check in with Devin and Kendyl to see how their lives have changed since filming wrapped. Take a look at our follow-up Q&As below:
In the show, you hear from several people about stereotypes regarding Muslims being terrorists or treating women badly. What do you wish people knew about Muslims?
I wish people could understand that there are radical and extreme people in every single faith. That doesn’t make any faith bad -- it is just a part of it. Just because people see extreme Muslims doesn’t mean we are all extreme. You probably live next to a Muslim or work with a Muslim or have been treated by a Muslim doctor in a hospital. We are everywhere, and we are good people. Unfortunately, there is a warped view that has been created. When it comes to woman’s rights, I can get very technical and read the Quran and show you that women have rights, but you need to learn about it. I can’t say it enough, but the hijab is NOT oppressive. I want people to understand that as far as women go, Islam is the first religion to give men and woman equal rights.
Are you currently wearing the Hijab? How has life been since the show?
Life has been great! I have been wearing the hijab on and off, but currently I am not wearing it full-time. Of course, I am still wearing it for prayer, so it is a part of my everyday life. One day I am hopeful that I can wear it full-time, but right now I am focused on my interior faith more than my exterior. I have also decided to take a step back from my personal social media and all the attention it drew to me. I have recently partnered with a hijabi who is also a revert and is making fashionable, handmade, modest clothing. I am going to help her with her social media and marketing, so I am very excited about that.
How did your friends at the mosque react to the news that you were taking off the Hijab?
I have been really lucky. No one has approached me and asked me what is going on and why I am not wearing my hijab full-time. The women and men in my community understand how difficult it is for a revert to make that complete life change forever. Everyone has been awesome and encouraging me that if it isn’t working for me right now, there is still hope that I can get to that place in the future.
How have things been with your mother?
My mom and I are great! Since we finished filming, we set up a system where anytime I was going to make a big decision, we sit down and she asks me if I am feeling balanced -- keeping my personality, spirituality and religious side equally aligned. I want to keep that delicate balance and never lose it again, and my mom wants the same for me. I can understand now that she was just looking out for me. I will never stop needing my mother, and she will always know more than I do, and I am grateful for it.
How has your newfound balance impacted your spiritual self?
I think finding the balance took a ton of pressure off of me. I thought I had to be perfect in every way. [But now], I don’t feel like I am a terrible person because I do not wear hijab full-time. I don’t feel like my religion and my personality clash anymore. That balance has helped me to feel like I can be a good person sitting in the middle. I am not living a double life, I am exactly who I am and that’s okay.
What would you like to say to other young people who may be struggling with the same issues out there?
Get involved in your community and talk to people you trust. Your family may take a little while, or more than a long while, to come around, but you need to trust in Allah and remember why this religion is so important to you. There are resources out there like bloggers and YouTubers who can help you on your path. For people having the same struggle with hijab, I want them to know that this is their journey -- don’t let other people tell you what you have to do. This choice needs to come from you...if you feel like you aren’t ready for the hijab, just keep your heart open and really think about it and keep it in your prayers. Just because you don’t wear a hijab doesn’t mean you are less of a Muslim. Don’t compare yourself to others -- focus on yourself, and remember this is your religious journey and no one else’s business but you and God's!
For more on misconceptions about Islam, visit Look Different.
Where are you currently living, and how has life been since the show?
I'm living with my friend Diara, her boyfriend Collin and her cousin Bobby. We are all working for Diara's dad's company, Next Gen. Next Gen is a mold and tool company.
Why did you leave the parsonage?
I last left off at Ethan's house (not the parsonage). I ended up leaving Ethan's house because Ethan went through my phone (while I was napping one day) and found some photos I had on Grindr. He saw messages I'd sent to a few men and blew up. I realized I was tired of not being true to myself, so I left Ethan's house. Since then, members of the church have been blowing up my phone to try to get me back on the right track.
How is your relationship with Ethan? Where do you two stand now?
I had to block Ethan on Facebook because he was being so judgmental. He kept telling me I was going to hell and on the wrong path. If Ethan and I ever rekindle our friendship, I need him to accept that I have to be true to myself. I'm gay, and I actually don't know where I stand in my walk with God, but I know being gay is nothing I want to change.
What is next for you?
From here, I'm just trying to get back to who Devin is. I'd like to go back to school for communications. I'm ready to go to some more music festivals, and I’m working and hustling to save up for those festivals. I want to hang out with the friends that accept me for who I am and focus on me for once.
So many Christians have no problem with gay people. What do you say to those who support gays, or to people who are both gay and Christian?
To Christians who support gay people, thank you! The one thing I wanted while I was in church was for someone to tell me it was okay to be gay and that nothing was wrong with me. But on my worst days, I didn't have that. I think Jesus would have been the type of person that supported a gay person. To people that are both gay and Christian, if it's working for you, there is nothing wrong with the way you are. You are perfect the way you are...keep doing it.
Many Christians today support gay people. If you or someone you know is struggling with being gay and Christian you can visit the Gay Christian Network for resources and support.
Devin learned that you can’t change being gay. Every major medical and mental health organization has condemned practices that attempt to change being gay. If you are struggling with being accepted for who you are you can call The Trevor Project’s Helpline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The call is free and won’t appear on your phone bill. Dial 1-866-488-7386 (866-4U-TREVOR) or visit trevorproject.org . And for more on misconceptions on being gay and Christian, visit Look Different.