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An important new step for gay Muslims


Fred Bradford Apr 30, 1999 3:00 AM
Posted in group: bit.listserv.gaynet

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<gaymu...@yahoo.com>

Assalamualaikum (peace be unto you):

I would like to introduce myself to you.

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!

Al-Fatiha Foundation         Tel./Fax: (212) 752-3188
405 Park Avenue, Suite 1500  Email:  gaymu...@yahoo.com
New York, NY  10022          Web: http://www.al-fatiha.org

------------------------------------------

***PRESS RELEASE!***

Al-Fatiha Foundation (LGBTQ Muslims & Friends)

Contact: Faisal Alam US
Tel. (212) 752-3188
Email:  gaymu...@yahoo.com

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:

Al-Fatiha Foundation        Telephone & Fax:  (212) 752-3188
405 Park Avenue, Suite 1500    
New York, NY  10022         Email: gaymu...@yahoo.com
Web: http://www.al-fatiha.org

**********

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