Article: Gay Muslims Work to Overcome 'Ultimate Repression'
- Gay Muslims work to overcome �ultimate repression�
Al-Fatiha holds international retreat in D.C.
Al-Fatiha, an international organization for gay Muslims and their supporters, held a candlelight vigil and symbolic Muslim funeral prayer Friday, May 24, at the fountain in Dupont Circle Park. The vigil was held to honor Muslims who have been arrested or tortured because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
By RHONDA SMITH
Ade Kusumaningrum equates being a lesbian Muslim in Indonesia with "repression."
"Being a woman is repression. Being a lesbian is another form of repression," she said. "But being a lesbian Muslim is the ultimate repression."
For Adnan Ali, life in Pakistan also was a challenge. He now lives in the United Kingdom.
"Society is dead to homosexuality in Pakistan," he said. "LGBT people don�t want to talk about it."
In Egypt, Maher Sabry says people opposed to homosexuality accuse gay men of being "Westernized, allies of Israel, and child molesters."
Kusumaningrum, Ali and Sabry shared details about their lives as gay Muslims on Saturday, May 25, in Washington, D.C., at Al-Fatiha�s Third International Retreat, whose theme was "The Journey to Faith and Patience." They appeared on a panel titled "Hidden Voices: The Lives of LGBT People Living in Muslim Countries."
Washington resident Faisal Alam founded Al-Fatiha in 1998 for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning Muslims and their allies worldwide.
He said this week that more than 70 people attended the gathering here May 24-27, which included private retreats, panel and community discussions, and a candlelight vigil and symbolic Muslim funeral prayer. The vigil and funeral were held to honor men and women who have been arrested, tortured or killed because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
There were several firsts at the retreat, Alam said. The National Youth Advocacy Coalition, an umbrella organization for groups who work with gay and other youths, gave Al-Fatiha a spirituality award for its work. Alam said this marks the first time the gay Muslim group had been recognized by another group.
The retreat in Washington also was the first at which Muslim men, women and their allies met for separate discussions.
"We�ve always been together in one space, but this allowed us to focus on Muslim women, who had never had a private space of their own," Alam said. "Muslim men met and discussed sexuality and spirituality and the intersection of the two," he said. "Then we focused on issues related to gender, gender awareness and the notions of feminism."
The private sessions resulted from a discussion last year between men and women who attended an earlier Al-Fatiha retreat.
"The women felt that men did not understand their own male privilege, issues affecting women, and how patriarchy worked," Alam said. "This year, we spent about three hours talking about how gender roles play out in society and in the U.S. gay culture. It was successful because many of the men finally began to get it."
Joo-Hyun Kang, executive director of the Audre Lorde Project Inc. in New York City, also spoke Saturday at a panel discussion titled "Creating an International Progressive Movement for LGBT People."
"In the United States, the queer movement has failed by dropping transgender language and consistently dropping any commitment to racial justice," she said. "Many queer organizations in the U.S. agree to the idea that they�re in a single-issue movement."
Officials at the Audre Lorde Project describe it as a center for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, two-spirit and transgender people of color communities."
FOR MORE INFO Al-Fatiha
P.O. Box 33532
Washington, DC 20033
No gay statement yet on Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Al-Fatiha organizers sponsored a community forum and discussion Sunday, May 26, titled "Creating a Vision of Peace and Unity for LGBT Jews and Muslims." Speakers there included Alam; Khan; Rabbi Steve Greenberg, an openly gay Orthodox Jewish rabbi; Debra Kolodny, editor of "Blessed Bi-Spirit: Bisexual People of Faith"; and Lee Walzer, author of "Between Sodom and Eden," and a member of Bet Mishpachah, a predominantly gay synagogue in D.C.
There have been conversations about gay Muslims and Jews jointly creating a "peace statement" to address political turmoil in the Middle East. But Alam said this week that this is not likely to happen.
"It�s too soon to draft something like this," he said, "but we agreed at the session that the only solution to the conflict in the Middle East is a two-state solution, with just peace on both sides." Alam said more conversations must take place among gay Jews and Muslims before leaders in those communities could create a peace statement.
News reporter Rhonda Smith can be reached at rsmith@....
Al-Fatiha is an international organization for Muslims who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, questioning & their friends! For more info.: http://www.al-fatiha.net
To join our announcement and news list send a blank email to Al-Fatiha-News-Subscribe@yahoogroups.com
Do You Yahoo!?
Yahoo! - Official partner of 2002 FIFA World Cup