Huda Fahmy had a story inside her that desperately needed to get out.
And yeah, it was a good one.
A Detroit native now living in Texas, Fahmy is a devout Muslim. She thought about writing a book about her life, but after several rejection letters, her sister advised her to go in another direction — web comics.
"I’ve loved comics since I was eight years old, so it felt like such a natural segue, from writing my stories to illustrating them, that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought to do it earlier," she explains via email.
Her comic, "Yes I'm Hot In This," captures the funny and frustrating experience of being a Muslim woman who wears a hijab.
While many of her comics come straight from her life, she also writes her main character into situations friends have shared with her and draws inspiration from current events. Through telling these stories, particularly in this format, Fahmy hopes to start a conversation and help people connect across different backgrounds.
"My comics are not without controversy, even among the Muslim community, but it was very important, from the beginning, that I create a safe space to share thoughts, find common ground, and even express opposing points of view in a respectful and light-hearted manner," she says. "If anything, the more I grow, the more I see that we really are just trying to relate to one another. It gives me a lot of hope."
Her comics and interactions with readers offer a bit of hope, something Fahmy herself has needed since the 2016 election.
The rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric and attacks since the election of Trump make Fahmy fearful and anxious, but she does her best not to let it stop her or her family from living their lives.
"'Is today the day someone tries to snatch my hijab?' 'Is today the day I get told to go back to where I came from?' 'For God’s sake, when I walk into a store, I always make sure to know where the exits are, and I find myself subconsciously looking at things as potential weapons I could use to defend myself in case I’m attacked. This is my reality."
But with that fear comes anger and frustration, particularly at the president and anyone else who second guesses the patriotism of Muslim Americans.
"The fact that he can stand in front of MY flag and spew his disgusting, filthy hate makes me ill. So, this year more than any other year past, I am determined to get my stories out," says. "Whether my stories are written or drawn, I am going to share what makes ME an American."
So far, the response to Fahmy's comic has been overwhelmingly positive.
In May, she celebrated her thousandth Instagram follower. Today, just seven months later, she has more than 85,000.
They're people of different backgrounds, coming together to laugh, learn, and connect with each other. It gives Fahmy hope that things won't always be so scary.
"The overwhelming response has been incredibly positive and uplifting," she says. "The DMs I receive the most are ones from followers thanking me for dispelling harmful beliefs they once held."
Breaking down barriers, making connections, and sharing a good laugh? That's one amazing story.