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At Muslim LGBTQ retreat, attendees try to reconcile their faith and sexuality

in UNITED STATES, 31/05/2013

There was speed dating, a talent show and a baby naming. But there was also a locked Facebook page. And a strict rule: Attendees should not disclose the retreat’s exact location. That’s because the 85 people who gathered in the Pennsylvania woods over Memorial Day weekend had come from 19 states and three countries for a somewhat surprising event: a three-day LGBTQ Muslim and Partners Retreat.

Some wore T-shirts that read, “Muslim + Gay = Fabulous.” They prayed. They attended workshops about pioneering progressive Muslims. Ever heard of Isabelle Eberhardt, a.k.a. Mahmoud Saadi, a convert to Islam who challenged gender norms at the turn of the 20th century?

And they held discussions on struggling to reconcile their faith with their sexuality, and their sexuality with their faith. (Many folks said that they face Islamophobia from inside the mainstream LGBTQ community.)

At the retreat, women and men prayed side by side, rather than in separate quarters as is customary. Some people found potential partners. Others wept in workshops when they talked about their family’s reactions. Under a blue sky, the final prayer took place on Monday. A woman was allowed to lead both the call to the prayer and the prayer itself.

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