Wednesday 23 December 2015

Presentation of Gifts to Islamophobes and Ownership of Hijab

If anyone wants to discuss the hijab, that's great. However, obscuring the voices of Muslim women by imputing on them the reasons that they dress as they do is insulting to the women who wear hijab.

Nomani used the phrase "they believe" in her piece. In so doing,  she made assumptions about people without even talking to them as individual persons about why they make the clothing choices that they do. Nomani's writing left one with the sense that her opinion about what a person trumps that very person's own views as to the same thing. Eww, really. Let individuals speak for themselves, explain themselves to you regarding why they've done various things. There are as many reasons that Muslims dress various ways as there are Muslims.

As we have seen in the backlash from many prominent female scholars, authors, and activists, there are many reasons that women wear hijab. In any discussion of the hijab, we should obviously let Muslim women speak for themselves about why they dress whatever way they dress. Nomani should speak for herself; and she should allow other women to speak for themselves.

I think that what is happening is that Muslim women are asserting their right to define their own relationship with their own hijabs. This is in the face of the way that Asra Nomani imputed on hijabis her own ideas about why people wear the hijab. Nomani attempted to broadly characterise the nature of the hijab and the women who wear it. What I have been seeing is that the women responding to her are reclaiming ownership of their relationships with their hijabs.

Discussions of the hijab or any other piece of clothing unique to Muslims should furthermore not make use of the very tropes which further anti-Muslim bigotry in places where Muslims are a vulnerable minority. This is a more important aspect of the implications of Nomani's piece which should receive more attention than a piece of cloth.

In her article, Asra Nomani did precisely this - she employed anti-Muslim tropes. As per her norm, Nomani has couched opinion on a Muslim topic in a way that lends itself handily to anti-Muslim bigots as fuel for their hateful rhetoric. (This is one explanation for the term "Muslim informant.") She echoed the claims of many prominent Islamophobes who use black-and-white thinking to equate every Muslim person's clothing style to one or another political ideology.

This politicisation of clothing is exactly what prominent American bigots have been doing in order to racialise Muslims and incite hatred against us here. At a time when non-Muslims are seeking to make the world safer for Muslims, Nomani is amplifying her voice to those who see the hijab only ever as a symbol of an extremist, politicised Islamism. That kind of rhetoric is dangerous in the current atmosphere of racism, xenophobia, heterosexism, and other hatreds which are gripping North America and Western Europe.

Thursday 17 December 2015

Dietary Disturbances and Weight

I am overweight. Sometimes, something happens that reminds me of trauma that I have experienced, and I react by stopping eating. I heal and resume eating once again. At no point during any of these misadventures do I stop being overweight.

This is one of the kinds of experiences that I have living with mental illness.

‪#‎ReduceStigma‬, ‪#‎LetsTalk

A Survivor's Toolkit

It is not your fault.

You are not dirty.

You are loved.

It's OK to talk about it.

It was real.

You deserve to be comfortable and safe.

You deserve to feel good.

Your feelings are valid.

It's okay to cry.

The things that happen to you, and the things that people say afterward, do not define you.

Any more for the list?

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Dark Chocolate as a Vegetable

I hereby declare certain forms of dark chocolate to be a vegetable. This is Endangered Species Chocolate, dark chocolate with espresso beans, 72% cacao. It is a Fair Trade product and usually costs around $3 at the right store.

Monday 7 December 2015

Frosted Fog, 07 December 2015

I saw it coming yesterday when the fog rolled it. It was thick and very moist. When the temperatures dipped overnight, that thick, wet mist was going to attach itself to All The Things. This morning certainly did not disappoint. Check out these magnificent photos!

2015.12.07. 10.00 1721 Frosty Spider Web

2015.12.07. 10.00 1724 Frost-Tipped Cedars


Monday 30 November 2015

Tale of the Apple-Stealing Squirrel

This is the perp.

For real, this is the apple that the varmint stole.

Throwing in this awesome-looking moon because SPOOKY!

Supposed to be trees up in there. Hmmm.

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Autumnal Sunset in Michigan

Yup. That's us, looking all gorgeous and stuff. Mhmm.


Saturday 21 November 2015

Bella on a Bush

She came to visit, but sat on a thorny bush. I don't see her staying very long.
Maybe I was wrong.


Thursday 22 October 2015

Is Imam Hussain remembered at your Hussainiyat?

Are your Hussainiyat carefully designed to be pleasing to the eye? Are they set up to look good on camera? Did you ask one person specifically to make plans with the media?

Is Imam Hussain remembered at your Hussainiyat?

Is your Hussainiyat highlighted by emotional latmiyat bringing to mind the brutality that took place at Karbala? Are wails and moans fine-tuned to perfectly punctuate the poetry? Does your baby Asghar bring all the weeping ladies to the musalla?

Is Imam Hussain remembered at your Hussainiyat?

Who has heard Imam Hussain's Mina sermon at a Hussainiyat? Who knows what kinds of oppression Yazid inflicted on Muslims? Not just sexual mores broken, but lives broken, souls crushed. Who has heard Zainab's words to Yazid recited? Who has listened to Imam Sajjad's speech recited? Who among you knows how Imam Hussayn planned to counter Yazid's tyranny, how he would do things differently?

Is Imam Hussain remembered at your Hussainiyat?

Sunday 11 October 2015

Thursday 8 October 2015

Here Is a Reason to Fly to Edinburgh!

Aman's post

Announcing the Scottish launch of my book on Tuesday 3rd November 2015. At The Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre for the Study...
Posted by Amanullah De Sondy on Thursday, 8 October 2015

His Name Is Cayden: "When Whites Boys Cry" Edition

Awwwwwwww, did we make the poow widdle white boy cwyyyy? Maybe ...
Posted by Freedom2B on Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Sunday 4 October 2015

Wild (Sorta) Pink Rose

In what ways is love like a flower? Why do we compare the two? Looking forward to your answers! :)

2015.10.04. Wild Pink Rose

This Rose as Love

A newly emerging Friendship Rose. May love grow in you as it does with this flower.

2015.10.04. Friendship Rose

Saturday 3 October 2015

Pouring Libations for the Ancestors

Some of the most powerful communications that I have ever heard were aired in this episode. They weren't loud. They spoke of the power of surviving hell. When the Ancestors speak, listen.

Wednesday 30 September 2015

Cold Tears

poem by me, 30 September 2015
"Cold tears for a chill morn,
"Cold tears for memories of a mistake made,
"Trust broken."

Sunday 27 September 2015

It's Happening!

Heyyyy everyone! The clouds parted a lil, and this is what I saw!

Ok, truth: I can't process my own photos until further notice. I haven't even taken the camera out. But if I stay here much longer, I will miss more of the action. If anyone sees the Cookie Monster, tell him to keep up the good work!

Saturday 26 September 2015

Super Blood Moon 25 September 2015

Several days ago, we had a somewhat rare experience. Septmber's full moon was actually a super moon. In addition to that full supermoon, we also had a lunar eclipse. Three moons, one stone? Here are the photos.


Thursday 24 September 2015

An Eid of Remembrance

There is usually plenty enough of stress and even hurt on Eid al Adha (Festival of Sacrifice). It's only bound to happen as families and communities gather together, putting people with vastly different worldviews together for an extended time. This year, however, Eid has been particularly inauspicious and painful. First a crane accident killed dozens of worshippers in Mecca. Then hundreds of worshippers at Mina were trampled to death. And now we hear of a bombing at a Zaydi Shia Islamic mosque in Yemen.

As we exchange Eid greetings with each other, please let us also remember our Muslim and non-Muslim siblings around the world for whom today is a day of tragedy.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Prayer for Sleep (Episcopalian Christian)

Save us from troubled, restless sleep; from all ill dreams your children keep. So calm our minds that fears may cease and rested bodies wake in peace. ~ from 6th century compline hymn

Posted by The Episcopal Church on Wednesday, September 23, 2015

An Open Letter to Survivors of Abuse from Your Loving Allies

Darling Survivors,
Wherever you are, whatever your situation, you are still here. Please know that we out here know that continuing on this journey that we call life is an everyday struggle. You are so strong. You've endured what you have endured, and now you are here experiencing some kind of life. And we cannot imagine life without you, to be perfectly honest.

We are listening to you. We believe you. We affirm your experiences and lived realities. What you choose to disclose to us is real. We are honoured to carry some of your story with you. We do not need any kind of documentation or proof to demonstrate the veracity of your story. We love you and honour your lived reality and your experiences.

You have hurts - some wounds will never heal. We won't demand of you that any part of you get healed. You also have joys; frustrations; boring days; points of brilliance, light, and happiness. We are here with you, willing to share these with you if you want. Anything that you need, let us know. One or more of us will be at your side, doing everything that we can for you.

There is harshness in this world. You already know this. You've spent so much time knowing this. There is also love. Every day, people are pouring their love out into the universe. Some of it - as much as you need - is yours for the taking. We see you, we honour you, and our love is for you.

Sincerely yours,
-A Whole Bunch of Allies

Thursday 17 September 2015

Black Inventors, Clocks, and America

If you haven't heard of Ahmed Mohamed of #‎IStandWithAhmed‬ fame, you've been living under a painted white rock. Here is the thing, though. You people all act as though you've never seen a black man with a clock before in America.

Please open your textbooks to page 22 now and meet Benjamin Banneker, a self-made scientist and almanac author. Banneker was born a free man of Guinean ancestry whose maternal grandfather was a prince. Gifted one day with a watch, Banneker disassembled it several times to examine it, then made the first clock constructed in this country.


Image: Black matting with photo of Benjamin Banneker (a fine young black man) in the centre. His name is written on both sides of his photo. Above the photo, the following in white Tempus: "You people act as though you've never seen a black man with a clock in America." Below, in white Times New Roman: "Please turn to page 22 in your textbooks now."

Sunday 13 September 2015

Alicia Garza: Black Lives Hero

The Root covered Alicia Garza thus:

Two years ago, Alicia Garza was publicly grieving the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer, when three seemingly innocuous words flowed from her keyboard, and proved to be anything but: Black lives matter. That simple but profound assertion would come to rattle the establishment, bounce onto magazine covers and helped drive a crusade for racial justice not seen since the 1960s. In addition to her day job with the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Garza, who identifies as queer, often uses her platform to widen the space of blackness, especially unmasking the far-too-frequent violence against trans and gender-nonconforming people of color in our communities. Her beautiful refrain (and work) not only insists on the protection of black bodies but on the opening of black minds. We especially thank her for her heart.


Wednesday 9 September 2015

Slavery Isn't a Thing of the Past

"My last enslaved uncle died when I was 14."
-someone who is alive today

Black Lives Matter.

Monday 7 September 2015

No to Ideation Shaming

From my friend, The Unicorn Whisperer.

Public service announcement from the Unicorn Whisperer:

People who shame those who have suicidal thoughts or have taken their own lives can kindly kiss my ass before I run them over with my wheel chair. Seriously, this is not a post where you can debate in the comments or say that those people are selfish. I don't give a shit about your opinion I only have love for those who suffer.

Depression is a real fucking disease and I feel nothing but compassion for those who fight it every day, those who are longer with us, and those left behind. Those who are dealing with suicidal thoughts or attempts: I am so so very glad you are still here. <3

Freedom2B: Seconded, UW.

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Saturday 8 August 2015

I Love the Love That Is in You

Words: 'I love the Love that is in you."
Background Colour: black.
Text: Monotype Corsiva, 75. Red 255, green 179, blue 255.
     * Rainbow that waves diagonally from upper left-hand corner, where it is most slender, to lower right-hand corner, where it flares out at its widest. White division lines between each colour of rainbow, liberal sprinkling of white stars make for sparkly effect.

     * Pink heart, same colour as text, containing word "Love" (noun).

     * F2B proprietary logo.

Friday 7 August 2015

Dogsitting Adventures, August 2015

More photos and updates to be added to this very space! Come back for more.

Friday 07 August 2015

I always enjoy being able to make extravagant salads using a balsamic vinegar. Here e have romaine lettuce, tomato, yellow beans, and blueberries - some of which have been crushed so that their flavour blends with the dressing. Cheese and toast is also a simple meal fave (protein, fibre). I think though, that I've chopped more cheese than I can eat? It shall be my afternoon snack later on. hahhaa :)

It is also possible to see future pizza toppings. The yellow circles are summer squash. Yup. That's how I roll.

The darker one is now asleep.

 Saturday 08 August 2015, Morning

When lil guy misses Mommy.

Just not very interested in food. Yet. I am holding out hope.

Eat, lil man. Eat. <3

Asking where Mommy is. I will join them on the couch soon. My On-Couch-With-Dogs selfie-taking skills are zero so far. hahahaha

10:00 am - Note that they shifted positions. We all got some cuddling in yesterday - and a nap, all of us, on the couch. :)

7:00 pm - Cuddling and sleeping achieved, and guess who ate? Hoping that tomorrow goes even better for lil guy. They were both barking at something while they were outside.

Sunday 09 August 2015

Unitarian Universalist of Midland, MI. Black Lives Matter. Awesome stuff. Pain, not so much. But hey, life. Life is damned good.

The dogs are awesome, and the problem eater is EATING. :) Speaking of eating, here is my lunch.

Oh, and canine co-sleeping was also accomplished once again. This time, the elder dog slept *on* me.

Monday 10 August 2015

Some really lovely flowers out there, before the rain.

I've been doing well by certain of my pain medicines, so I feel... Well, I feel functional. :)

Guess who has been eating his foooood? hahahaha So I gave them both a treat. (I'm always giving them treats, though - will he notice the difference?)

Aren't they just gorgeous? <3

Obligatory lunch photo.
Unitarian Universalist of Midland is beautiful. So is the LGBTQ Muslim Retreat.

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Some friends and I took a walk in Diendorfer Woods in Saginaw.

Me being all daring and stuff around three-leaf plants (though I don't really think that they are poison ivy:).

Wednesday 12 August 2015

Enjoying the sunshine.

Thursday 13 August 2015

PTSD Trigger Day.
"Awww, you're feeling bad? Rub my tummy and you'll feel better. <3"

"Where's the food?"

The other pup gave me that face, too:


Monday 27 July 2015

The Guardian Doesn't Know Black Families

White boy, you don't know crap about how black families have been talking with each other for AGES now. Please. Go home and let a black person tell how it is.

Jean Jaurès on Workers' Power and War

Give the working class confidence in the power of progress through law. Design mechanisms by which it will have access, as a class, as an organized and united collective, to the vast wealth of modernity. Draw a broad, straight path before it...And as the republican nation makes an effort to attain justice, it will be the duty of the working class, in return, to voluntarily organize and discipline itself. It will also be in its interest. It has nothing to gain by putting its protests into a brutal form...Acts of destruction not only have the effect of betraying humanity...but by giving the illusion of immediate power, they also distract the workers from the pursuit of true power, which lies in forming ever larger groups and in taking ever more methodical action.
Jean Jaurès, L'Armée Nouvelle, p 36

"Among Europe's elite, many captains of industry speak openly of a war to end the movement for workers demands."

"Your violent and chaotic society even when it pretends to seek peace carries within it war just as rain clouds carry the storm."

"At a time when we are threatened with murder and butchery, there is but one hope of saving the peace and that is for the proletariats to join ranks, workers of France, England, Germany, Italy, Russia let us implore these millions of men to unite to dispel this horrible nightmare."

Sunday 26 July 2015

On Leading, Following, Stopping Harm, and Moderation.

EDIT 26 July 2015: I solidly and publicly condemn the publication of information about MLI Cohort III participants for the purpose of publicly identifying them.  I will never support what I see as stalking. I will continue to support efforts against MLI in other ways - which which bring as little harm as possible to anyone.

Hearing of the devastatingly bad timing of the third cohort of the Muslim Leadership Initiative and seeing new petitions and articles by Kamal Abu Shamsieh and Dr Omid Safi, I have been applying myself to listen carefully to the voices of Palestinians and their dedicated allies.

The first time that I heard of the Muslim Leadership Initiative was last January, when a flood of articles and Facebook posts filled my Facebook experience. I saw the calls to name and shame the participants and spoke out against them, calling such efforts as potentially dangerous.

Then I learned that close friends of mine were among the first and second cohorts. It suddenly became personal for me. When I saw name and shame advocacy, I saw my friend's faces, imagined them being thus outed, and considered the possible harm and even potential dangers of such a situation.

Then a video surfaced showing the faces of more than a few of the second cohorters. I was on fire. What if something happened to my dear ones on account of this video? And what the heck did people think they were doing, publishing it? I counted the days, even the hours, until everyone was home, safely ensconced inside their own walls. To this day, I avoid content written by journalists who endorsed the use of that video or who published that video.

Through all of this, there are certain things that never changed about me. I remained a staunch supporter of Palestine. Remained. Since the year 2000, when Ariel Sharon invaded the Al Aqsa compound with armed guards, I have supported Palestine. In 2002, I discovered boycott lists consisting of individual companies (many of them have continued to show their vileness in other regard, so I continue to boycott them). I followed Nora Barrows Friedman on KPFA radio as she detailled Israeli human rights abuses against Palestine. I am no friend of Israeli policies against Palestine.

I remain firm in my conviction that campaigns to name and shame MLI participants are morally wrong and potentially very harmful.

The vitriol of discussions taking place regarding MLI had serious impacts on me. Ad hominems were levelled at me and others. As far as I can tell, it is the vitriol of those discussions which eventually resulted in the loss of my Facebook account, as someone(s) reported it to Facebook for a Real Name violation in the midst of those discussions. The loss put on hold my work for two different organisations while I endured compounded, very painful waves of PTSD, depression, and other mental illnesses for three months.

Hena Zuberi of Muslim Matters addressed the negativity unleashed by MLI detractors in an op-ed:
"The world is not black and white. We have to have follow-up with discussions about how academic engagement hurts the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS). We have to leave room in our opposition for differences in opinion – that is what we ask of others and that is what we should give to them." (1)

I defended my friends as part of the whole of two MLI cohorts. I said things by which I continue to stand. I said other things which were simply untrue. I acted in ways of which I continue to be proud; and also in ways which I now know to be wrong. My dedication to my friends does not excuse that of my behaviour which was wrong. The ferocity with which I defended them does not excuse the vitriol wielded against me and others.

A review of items which feel important to me:

* Participants in the second cohort were unaware of the funding sources for MLI until sometime during their travels in Palestine and Israel. (2)

* Various supporters of MLI acted disgracefully, talking over Palestinian voices, centering themselves in place of Palestinians, denying (3) the unanimous voice of Palestinians calling for compliance with BDS. (1)

* Many opponents of MLI acted disgracefully. As I stated before, ad hominems were flung about, and I curiously lost my Facebook account in the midst of all of the arguing. Kamal Abu Shamsieh has added his own thoughts to this problem, even as he has shifted his views to opposition of MLI. (2)

* I firmly reject the application of the term "leaders" on MLI participants by other than the participants themselves - this in an attempt to justify calls to name and shame MLI participants. In this regard, I point to the wording on the MLI site itself, indicating that the programme is designed for "emerging...leaders," which is distinct from leaders.

* There is a petition available on PetitionOnline through Care2 Petitions which is, for the most part, written in a way that makes it more accessible to the mindset of a broad audience than certain previous others. (4) This petition is subsequent to another calling for an end to MLI, which is most worthy of one's attention and very generally accessible to most people's mindsets. (5)

* If MLI was designed to convince Muslims of the validity of zionism, it failed miserably. I am connected to even more MLI cohorts, and not a single one of them has posted anything in favour of the Israeli government. In fact, I have seen ferocious support from them for Palestine, especially when facts and data regarding children are published in news articles. Even while they were in the company of zionists in occupied Palestine, they challenged those zionists. (6)

* However, MLI has itself failed to impact the mindsets of the zionists with which it has interacted. (5)

* It is increasingly possible for MLI to be independently funded and to change its modus operandi, yet it continues to refuse to do so. (2)

* The third MLI trip coincides with the one-year anniversary of Israel's most recent major assaukt on Gaza. (4)

* MLI has been harmful to Palestinians. (5)

There are many parts of the latter petition by Kamal Abu Shamsieh, "Palestinians Unwelcome the Muslim Leadership Initiative," with which I agree. There are some with which I disagree. There appears to be a personal boycott on an individual level in the petition. I disagree with personal boycotts and prefer the use of dialogue to encourage thoughtful growth on the part of MLI participants. I wholeheartedly agree with the demands made of MLI directors by Abu Shamsieh and others. I find myself in agreement with just about every aspect of the former petition, "Call for Immediate Halt to Muslim Leadership Initiative." While there could be a concern regarding appropriation, the centering of this petition on Palestinian voices, the discussion by this petition of justice for a diversity of peoples, and the very respectfully worded appeal to Imam Abdullah Antepli all speak to the high quality of this petition. The one concern that I had about the former petition was heard with understanding by one of the authors; I did not request that any change be made to it.

As Muslims, we are naturally inclined towards the establishment of justice for oppressed peoples. With that in mind, I call on Muslims to carefully consider the impacts of their words and actions while they call other Muslims to justice. When we call on each other as Muslims to desist from hurting other Muslims, I think that we we need to engage with them in a way that does not harm them. I am a survivor of stalking. I know what it is like to be followed, to have my identity and safety compromised. I do not wish this on others, even those with whom I disagree. I have personally seen the results of respectful dialogue with MLI participants - results which were not obtained in the toxically vitriolic discussions which were taking place. I know the success of these kinds of conversations in which the privacy of the conversants has been preserved. I have been personally impacted in very hurtful ways by the vitriol of discussions surrounding MLI and firmly reject that style of argument. I wouldn't wish the months-long suffering which I endured on others, even my enemies.

Let us remember and honour peace as the bottom line in our interactions with others.
-Freedom ToBe

(1) Zuberi, Forward.
(2) Abu-Shamsieh, Healing.
(3) My own observations based on Facebook posts and articles written after the return of the cohorts.
(4) Abu Shamsieh at al, Unwelcome.
(5) Abu Shamsieh et al,  Call.
(6) Private conversations.


1. Abu Shamsieh, Kamal. "A Palestinian's Journey Towards Healing" Huffinton Post. 22 May 2015. Web. 25 July 2015. <>.

2. Abu Shamsieh, Kamal et al. "Call for Immediate Halt to Muslim Leadership Initiative (MLI), Sponsored by Shalom Hartman Institute," Care2 Petitions. nd. Web. 25 July 2015. <>

3. Abu Shamsieh, Kamal et al. "Palestinians Unwelcome the Muslim Leadership Initiative (MLI), Sponsored by Shalom Hartman Institute," Care2 Petitions. nd. Web. 25 July 2015. <>.

4. ToBe, Freedom. Author's personal experiences. 16-31 January 2014.

5. ToBe, Freedom. Private Conversations. nd.

6. Zuberi, Hena. "Muslim Leadership Initiative: Finding the Way Forward," Muslim Matters. 04 February 2015. Web. 25 July 2015. <>.

This image for the purpose of Facebook visibility:


Thursday 16 July 2015

Muslim Apologies: We'll Get to It After You

"Asking me to condemn means you might think that I wouldn’t. It means that there is something about me, something that makes you wonder whether or not I condemn. You might get to wonder such things if I had made some crazy video, or I had given some crazy speech. But I have done no such thing.

"I have no obligation to condemn. There is nothing about me that would even remotely suggest anything different. There is no evidence, except for the fact that I happen to celebrate certain holidays, however casually. And it sounds like that is enough for you."
-Amer Zahr, "I Refuse to Condemn," The Civil Arab, 09 January 2015

Image: Have you apologised for this yet? [Image of Dylan Roof.] We'll get around to it after you. [Image of Chattanooga shooting.'

Sunday 12 July 2015


Where it is acceptable to refer to Muslim women who cover their faces as walking garbage bags or walking tents, but we MUST protect the sensitive feelings of whites. Oh, and also, where we insist that it is actually possible to be racist against whites? *rolling eyes*

Or, in short, that place where white-wannabes need to read some books.

Saturday 11 July 2015

Howard Sharper's Weather Post, 11 July 2015

Mid-Michigan Weather Forecast, Saturday July 11: Mostly Sunny Today, High 85. Partly Cloudy Tonight, Low 62. Cloudy...
Posted by Howard M. Sharper on Saturday, July 11, 2015

Friday 10 July 2015

World Have Your Say Asks About Muslims and Gay Rights

The questions posed on World Have Your Say earlier this morning were inspired by the recent article "An Open Letter To American Muslims on Same-Sex Marriage," by Dr Reza Aslan and Hassan Minhaj which appeared a few days ago on Religious Dispatches. Their Open Letter and WHYS's questions got me to thinking about what has brought us here, to the point that we as Muslims can openly call each other to celebrate milestones reached by LGBTQ people - and, for LGBTQ Muslims, more openly live and celebrate our lives.

The conversation on same-gender love and Islam has been shifting for many years now. Dr Scott Siraj Kugle has been writing and speaking about same-gender love since at least 2000. In 2003, Al Fatiha International and Salaam came together to produce a conference for gay and lesbian Muslims. Faisal Alam, El-Farouk Khaki, and Daaiyee Abdullah were at the forefront of organising the conference. The backlash from the Muslim community was so severe that several different means of security needed to be established for the safety of those who attended. In 2006, in a chapter of Lahoucine Ouzgane's "Islamic Masculinities," Asifa Siraj examined the ways in which same gender-loving Muslims reconciled their sexual orientations with Islam by narrating the stories of several gay Muslims.

By 2006, LGB Muslim leaders, as well as academic allies, were gaining more visibility on the global stage and were becoming much more vocal in their support for the rights of gay Muslims. Regarding the founding of Salaam, El-Farouk Khaki said in 2006, "We [Muslims] need to recognize that there is a fringe element at the present time within the Muslim community that resorts to violence; for reasons that are multi-level. We need to isolate this element and identify what leads to this sort of alienation and this psychology of violence." That same year, Dayiee Abdullah went on to assert, "[T]he Koran does speak allegorically and very clearly that sex is an important aspect of each human being’s life.... The Koran does not say that same-sex individuals should not have loving relationships."

In 2009, El-Farouk Khaki joined with his now-husband Troy Jackson and friend Dr Laury Silvers to establish El-Tawhid Juma Circle, a mosque space devoted to gender equality and LGBTQ inclusion. At about the same time, Dr Amanullah De Sondy, now Senior Lecturer In Contemporary Islam at University College Cork of Ireland, had burst onto the academic scene, offering his support for the human rights of LGBT Muslims: "Sex, sexuality, gender - call it, construct it in whatever way you want it to be. It is wrong when it infringes on the rights, liberty, spirituality of the other and aims to take position over and above God."

In 2012, El-Farouk Khaki put his foot down rather solidly in condemning those who use religion to hate LGBT persons of faith, saying "I want to say to the religious right, you're not right. You're the religious wrong! I know of no faith tradition, mine included, that denies the inherent human dignity of every one of God's creations - if you believe in God.... So, for all those who hate in the name of God, that's your god. It's not our god. It's time for this to stop."

Meanwhile, Dr De Sondy has kept on in that same vein in which he began several years ago, to the present day, challenging people to revolutionise the way that they think about sex and sexuality in Islam. Most recently, his book "The Crisis of Islamic Masculinities," published in 2013, has compelled Muslims to turn traditional discourse regarding gender and sexuality on its head and consider new ways of thinking on the topic.

That same year, Dr Kugle, whose 2010 text "Homosexuality in Islam" broke ground in the academic discussion of reconciling the Islamic faith with a gay identity, produced "Living Out Islam: Voices of Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Muslims," another narration of the lived experiences of gay and lesbian Muslims.

It was in 2012 that Junaid Jahangir began writing on Islam and homosexuality for Huffington Post - most recently calling on straight Muslim allies of same-gender marriage to "come out of the closet" earlier this month. While Reza Aslan and Hassan Minhaj did not specifically cite Junaid's article in their call to celebrate gay marriage, the timing of their article is indeed very significant. Most significant in that article is their call: "We shouldn’t be perpetuating our marginalization by marginalizing others. Rejecting the right to same-sex marriage, but then expecting empathy for our community’s struggle, is hypocritical." Reza and Hassan also quoted the same verse from the Qur'an which El-Farouk Khaki also quoted during his 2012 speech: "Be just, for this is closest to righteousness."

All of these fierce people, activists, journalists, and academics alike, have for several years cultivated an environment which is much safer for gay Muslims to live their realities and speak out about their experiences. As a gay Muslim myself, I am indebted to and tremendously grateful for the support of Dr Amanullah De Sondy, El-Farouk Khaki, Dr Scott Kugle, Asifa Siraj, Daayiee Abdullah, Faisal Alam, Junaid Jahangir, Reza Aslan, and Hassan Minhaj as we gay Muslims have struggled for recognition and validation by our fellow Muslim peers.