Gathering with family

Salaam lovelies,

This past weekend marked the 3rd Annual LGBTQ Muslim Retreat. There had been the previous weeks and month of intense planning and countless emails, in the service of creating an incredible, loving, thoughtful space for 80+ LGBTQ Muslims from North America and even a few other countries to come, find respite for a few days. An oasis for all of us in some way. If I haven’t said it already, I love my LGBTQ Muslim ummah (community). What a joy simply to witness folks in a space where we can be all of ourselves, a space in which no one has to worry about appearing too “gay” or too whatever. At the first Retreat we had a wedding, at this one we had our first baby naming! The whole community gathered together for a beautiful, moving and celebratory ceremony. We get married. We have babies.

Allah. Originally I’d been scheduled to attend just the last two days of the Retreat. I was due to travel for a family funeral. Just as I was leaving to go to the airport, my flight was cancelled and no flights were available to get me there the next day. Suddenly, in a matter of moments, I could be at the Retreat almost the entire weekend. A sadness overcame me since the funeral would have been an opportunity to see relatives I hadn’t seen in years and eat some very delicious food, but nothing is outside of Allah’s knowing so I decided that Allah determined it was more important for me to be with my queer Muslim family.

For me, the prayer space is always one of the most significant elements and this year no less so. Anybody who wanted to call the adhan and lead prayers did so, regardless of gender. We prayed shoulder to shoulder regardless of gender. In one workshop, I got to talk with other practicing folks about what their practice looks like, how they hold their Islam, their iman. A quiet thrill of sugar-highesque delight ran through me as we talked about the articles of faith and what Islam means for us in our lives, every aspect of our lives. I only wish we’d had more time. Sometimes I’ve found it challenging to do some of my practices on my own, not in the presence of a physical community. The Retreat renewed my commitment. I even asked one of my Retreat loves to call me each morning to make sure I’m up for fajr. Though I was still in a dream, hearing his voice the other morning wishing me a good day made a difference.

And the conversations. The opportunity to look deeply into the eyes of new and known beloveds, to shower them with love is such a precious gift. All the more amazing to know that through their encounter with Coming Out Muslim, a couple of folks were at the Retreat for the first time. We got to take some walks together, eat together, laugh, ham it up with one another, stay up real late, zikr. I even got to give some healing sessions to a few folks. Inshallah, I mean for my local crew to stay connected and get together regularly starting during Ramadan.

Today the Washington Post published an article about the Retreat on the front page of the Style┬ásection. Those of us at the Retreat have varying opinions about its quality but it’s certainly a sign of changing times, inshallah. And mad props to our beautiful community members who agreed to be interviewed, especially using their names! Mad props y’all! Just don’t read the comments! The usual hodgepodge of support and hateful nonsense. I’ve learned that the haters gon’ hate and I don’t need to read it time and again. Inshallah at the very least it will mean those LGBTQ Muslims suffering in isolation will know that they are not alone. There is a whole family ready for them.