28 May Faisal Alam
Speaker: Faisal Alam
Speaker, Writer, Organizer, and Activist
Faisal Alam is queer-identified Muslim activist of Pakistani descent. Faisal began the first internet-based email discussion group (listserv) for LGBT Muslims in November of 1997 (when he was 19 years old) which marked the first time that LGBT Muslims could discuss issues of common concern in a safe environment. This listserv eventually led to the First International Retreat for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Muslims, which (at the time) was believed to be the first known gathering of queer Muslims. Al-Fatiha (which means “The Beginning” or “The Opening”) was the theme of the retreat and eventually became the name of the organization founded to support Muslims who were struggling to reconcile their faith and their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Since its inception in 1998, Al-Fatiha has grown to include eight chapters in the United States with another seven sister-organizations in three countries (the United Kingdom, South Africa and Canada). Al-Fatiha has 800 members in the United States. Since its formation, the organization has provided resources, counseling services and information to more than 3,000 people around the world. Al-Fatiha’s mission is to provide support and to empower to LGBTIQ Muslims who are trying to reconcile their sexual orientation or gender identity with their religion (Islam). In a post-9/11 world, Al-Fatiha continues to advocate on behalf of the LGBTIQ Muslim community in immigration, refugee, and asylum cases, and in the HIV/AIDS and human rights movements. As an all-volunteer organization Al-Fatiha serves as a crucial resource for those struggling with questions of sexuality, gender identity, and faith.
As the founder and former volunteer director of Al-Fatiha (1998-2005), Faisal has traveled across the United States and around the world (including London, Cape Town, New Delhi, Karachi and Bangkok) to meet with LGBTIQ Muslims and their allies to build a community leading to a global movement for liberation and equality for Muslim sexual and gender minorities.
Faisal’s presentation “Hidden Voices: The Lives of LGBT Muslims” has been featured at more than 100 universities and colleges. He has spoken and presented at numerous events across the country including LGBT interfaith services, inter-religious LGBT panel discussions, at synagogues, churches, PFLAG meetings and other community events.
In 2000 Faisal was one of a handful of religious leaders who spoke at the Millennium March on Washington which brought together more than 500,000 people from across the country.