My name is Faisal Alam, and I am the Founder & Director of Al-Fatiha, an international organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) Muslims.
Let me begin by thanking you for writing to us seeking information about Al-Fatiha. Secondly, let me give you a little information about Al-Fatiha and its history. Al-Fatiha began in November of 1997 as a listserv (an internet-based email discussion group).
It's primary purpose (the listserv) was to bring together LGBT & questioning Muslims, their friends, allies, partners, etc. together in a forum where they could safely discuss their concerns, issues, etc. regarding their sexuality and their religion (Islam).
Since that time (Nov. '97) out listserv has grown to include more than 200 people from over 20 countries around the world. The natural outgrowth of the email listserv was for people to meet one another. Finally, LGBT Muslims and those questioning their sexuality had the opportunity to discuss and connect with other people who could understand where they were coming from and could relate to their experiences being both gay and Muslim.
In October of 1998 we held our first ever, international retreat/conference, which was held in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. At this event, it was unanimously decided and agreed upon by the participants that an international organization needed to be formed to address the issues faced by LGBT & questioning Muslims.
Since this time, Al-Fatiha has held meetings across the US and Canada in cities including: New York, Boston, Washinton DC, Toronto, Atlanta, and Vancouver. The need in our community is so great that Al-Fatiha chapters are spreading very quickly across North America, and soon across the globe!
Al-Fatiha's primary mission is to create a forum for LGBT and questioning Muslims, so that they may reconcile their sexuality/gender identity with their religion (of Islam).
In May, Al-Fatiha Foundation will hold its First North American Conference for LGBT Muslims & Friends at the New York University in NY City. The conference will be held during the US Memorial Day Weekend (May 28-31, 1999) and will bring community members
I hope the above information has given you enough information about our organization.
Should you have any further questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to email me.
In the end, I welcome you... and look forward to your anticipated participation in Al-Fatiha as well as our listserv (email discussion group).
Yours in faith,
Faisal Alam Founder & Director - Al-Fatiha Foundation
Al-Fatiha is an international organization dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning (LGBTQ) Muslims & their friends!
First North American Conference for LGBTQ Muslims & Friends Announced!
Theme: "Creating a Community"
"...And we (have) created you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another..." -The Holy Quran
Conference coordinators hope that this first conference in North America will be the beginning of a movement where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) Muslims can create a community and an identity for themselves, living in the West.
April 16, 1999 - Al-Fatiha Foundation, an international organization dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) Muslims announced today that it will hold its first North American conference at the New York University in New York City, USA, from Friday, May 28th Monday, May 31st, 1999 (U.S. Memorial Day Weekend).
The theme of the conference will be "Creating a Community." Conference coordinators hope that this first conference in North America will be the beginning of a movement where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) Muslims can create a community and an identity for themselves, living in the West. But as Al-Fatihas Founder & Director, Faisal Alam points out, "We are just beginning to scratch the surface. Our (LGBTQ Muslim) community is far from reconciling the struggles that face us. We are still in the beginning stages of our development where for some of us these issues are being discussed for the first time in our lives." Homosexuality and same-sex acts are still punishable by harsh fines, jail sentences, and in some instances, even public whip lashing and death, in most Islamic countries. Together with an extremely homophobic outlook, homosexuality is often highly stigmatized in Muslim communities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender Muslims are often ostracized and rejected from their families and communities if their sexuality/gender identity is made public. Alam hopes that this conference will be the beginning of an on-going discussion in the community, and that by meeting other LGBTQ Muslims, conference attendees will gain confidence in themselves and in the struggle for acceptance within the greater mainstream Muslim community.
Panel discussions and workshops will address topics including:
* Reconciling Homosexuality with the Religion of Islam * Reconciling Religion: People of Other Faiths * Issues of Marriage & Dating for LGBTQ Muslims * Immigration & Asylum Issues for LGBT Muslims * Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Women's Issues * History of the Gay Muslim Movement: US & Abroad * Human Rights: The Persecution of Gay Muslims * Transgender Identity & Islam * Partners of LGBT Muslims * Bisexuality & Islam
Other events during the conference will include regional U.S. & Canadian meetings, a reception with SALGA (South Asian Lesbian & Gay Association) and GLAS (Gay & Lesbian Arab Society), and the unveiling of Al-Fatihas mission statement, web site, and newsletter. Conference attendees will also participate in a memorial service for Muslims who have been killed because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and those that have died from the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Al-Fatiha Foundation began in November of 1997 when its founder Faisal Alam began a listserv (email discussion group) on the internet for gay Muslims. Since its inception, the online forum has grown to include 250 people from more than 20 countries who come from all sexual orientations, religions, cultural backgrounds, and gender identities. In October of 1998 members of the listserv met in Boston, Massachusetts, USA at the First International Retreat for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) Muslims. More than 45 people attended from across the US including 4 international participants, who came from South Africa, The Netherlands, Canada, and Belgium. It was at this retreat in Boston that attendees formally decided that an international organization needed be formed to address the issues faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Muslims, including those questioning their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. "We have finally taken the first steps to come together to address the issues that are important to us as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trasnsgender Muslim community," announced Faisal Alam, at the end of the retreat. Thus Al-Fatiha was born. The word Al-Fatiha which means "The Opening" in Arabic comes from the first chapter of the Holy Quran. It served as an appropriate theme for the retreat in Boston and thus was also adopted as the name of the organization.
Since the retreat in October, members of Al-Fatiha have organized social and support groups for LGBTQ Muslims across the United States and Canada. Successful events and meetings have already taken place in Boston, New York City, Washington DC, and Toronto.
For more information about the conference (including registration information) please contact Al-Fatiha Foundation at:
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