As one of only five openly gay imams in the world, Imam Daayiee Abdullah is using his visibility to raise awareness and build a culture of acceptance for LGBTQ Muslims.

“I think that visibility is always important for those who have not considered or have not thought of the possibilities of a Muslim who is both religious and gay,” Abdullah, the executive director of the MECCA Institute, told HRC. “It is important for people to see people like themselves within their religious context. It gives them a point of reference and someone they can talk to because a lot of questions frequently go unanswered by the traditionalist system.”

Abdullah, who has been working with HRC Foundation’s faith and religion team for nearly 20 years, is leading a workshop hosted by HRC and the MECCA Institute on "Sexuality, Gender, and Family in the Muslim Community" in Houston, Texas on August 31. The workshop will take place near ISNACON, a national convention for Muslim Americans working toward social change.

The workshop will provide an overview of sexuality within the Muslim community, emphasizing Muslim families and their relationships with LGBTQ children. It will also delve into aspects of sexuality, family structure and building relationships.

“I’m encouraging Muslim parents to seek and develop a better relationship with their children,” he said. “My goal is to help educate and inform, thereby, each individual can filter the information through their own experiences and find a place where they’re comfortable to start a dialogue with their children and community.”

Abdullah says he hopes the workshop changes hearts and minds and helps build connections.

“As with anything, we have to find those particular points of reference that we’re connected and through those processes of connecting we see that our differences are not so unique and they should not keep us separated from accepting each other versus a demand of people that agree on everything,” Abdullah said.

Whether you’re an LGBTQ Muslim, a family member looking to support an LGBTQ Muslim or somebody who’s willing to learn about the LGBTQ Muslim community, this workshop aims to unite and help others understand the intersection of the LGBTQ and Muslim communities.

“The importance is that the visibility offers an opportunity to potentially raise questions and get a reasonable thought from someone who is on the outside looking in and be able to convey to them the necessary comfort for one to feel whole in spirituality of themselves, their religious and faith and their person,” Abdullah said.

If you’re attending ISNACON, join HRC and the MECCA Institute’s Abdullah for this workshop nearby about sexuality, gender and family in the Muslim community. hrc.im/LGBTQMuslimWorkshop 


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