As we speak, there are thousands of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender folks from across the world who are not able to spend Christmas with their families this year. They have been beaten, cursed at and made to feel like they do not belong, leading them to say goodbye to their family and friends.
Recently, American Muslim activist Linda Sarsour broached the issue of LGBT Muslims, among other issues on the Al Jazeera program UpFront. She raised the concern of creating spaces to bring LGBT Muslims closer to Islam. Those involved in the discussion were cissgender males, one of whom equated same-sex unions with drugs and alcohol on the basis that both are considered sins. If the objective was to create safe spaces for marginalized LGBT Muslims, then the discussion failed.
Prior to the 1970s, house parties were an essential element of the homosexual social scene. Photographs of these private affairs are rare. The few that are available in archival collections memorialize a history of forced seclusion. One of the most tantalizing photographs I've come across in my research of Canadian LGBT history is of a trio of men attending a Christmas party in 1956. Standing in front of a decorated tree, a young man with a then-stylish pompadour delights in opening his gift while another man, who has his arm around him and another gentleman, looks on.
After being chastised by my own country of birth for coming out as a lesbian in April of this year and speaking out against the discrimination and harassment I had endured, I began to think that our Caribbean LGBTQ community would simply have to crawl back into our holes of pain and isolation and with muzzles over our mouths. That was until Marlon James!
How can Muslim LGBT lead the dialogue if a majority amongst them segregate their lives from conservative spaces? The importance of dialogue within conservative Muslim communities cannot be over-emphasized. Such a dialogue will have to be part of a much-needed internal critique, for outside solutions may be rejected as anti-Muslim bigotry.
A minority is defined as dangerous by a segment of society that clings to traditional views of acceptability. They fail to recognize prejudices inherent in their views until a hard-won fight for equal rights and shifting zeitgeist forces them to move on, foisting their fears on the next marginalized group.
Earlier this summer, Canada's first transitional housing dedicated to LGBT youth opened in Toronto--the YMCA's Sprott House. Reading about this great initiative raised our awareness about an issue that needs to be on the radar of all Canadians -- the unacceptable rate of LGBT youth who have no place to call home. LGBT youth become homeless for much of the same reasons as other young people -- family conflict, abuse, mental health issues and addiction. LGBT youth also experience higher rates of mental health and addiction issues in large part because of discrimination.
As the SCOTUS decision permeates business and marketing discussions, there have been a few arguments against brands publicly supporting equal marriage and LGBT rights. And not always the kinds of truthiness inspired arguments you might expect, but rather, reasoned (if ill-informed) arguments based on a few common assumptions. I'd like to address those here.
Recently someone in my inner circle began a relationship with a transgender woman. I learned to love someone new and accept her into my circle. Issues affecting transgender people have become my issues. I have read articles about people wanting to make policy about which bathroom is used by a transgender person. Then I realized, this isn't just a problem "they" face, it's a problem she faces.