Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Quote of the Day

The pope wants the church to apologize to gay people for marginalizing them, while also upholding the Catechism's teaching on homosexuality. You can't apologize to people and simultaneously reassert the doctrine that harms them. That's just dysfunctional, if not downright abusive.

– Jamie Manson
via Facebook

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote of the Day – June 26, 2016
Stop in the Name of Discriminatory Ideology!
Oh, Give It a Rest, Papa!
Catholic Church Can Overcome Fear of LGBT People
"Trajectory is More Important Than the Current Status"

Related Off-site Links:
Pope Says Christians and the Roman Catholic Church Should Seek Forgiveness from Homosexuals for Past Treatment – Philip Pullella (Reuters via Religion News Service, June 26, 2016).
What Does Pope Francis Mean When He Says "Apologize"? – Kimberly Winston (Religion News Service, June 27, 2016).
Gay Catholic Groups Want the Vatican to Do More Than Apologize – Jim Yardley (New York Times, June 27, 2016).
LGBT Catholics Welcome Statement of Pope Francis That the Catholic Church Must Apologize to Gay People, But Say Apology Must Be Followed by Concrete Actions – DignityUSA (June 26, 2016).
Pope Calls for Church to Apologize to LGBT People and Others Who Have Been Marginalized – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, June 26, 2016).
Keeping Pope Francis' Comments on the LGBT Community in Context – James Martin, SJ (Commonweal, June 27, 2016).
Catholic League’s Bill Donohue Melts Down on CNN After Pope Tells Him to Apologize to Gays – David Edwards (Raw Story, June 28, 2016).

Monday, June 27, 2016

"Radical Returnings" – Mayday 2016 (Part 2)

This evening I share a second batch of photos from this year's Mayday parade. As I mentioned in Part 1, on Sunday, May 1, I attended the 42nd annual In the Heart of the Beast Theatre's Mayday parade in south Minneapolis.

This year's theme was "Radical Returnings," and was all about "turning towards each other rather than away from each other, repairing our relationships and the earth, finding redemption and freedom in tune with the turning of the earth and the return of spring." Inspiring stuff, to be sure!

The text that accompanies my photos is excerpted from the Mayday 2016 program guide. Enjoy!

Parade Beginning: Howling for the Whole Earth

This years parade was headed by the Phillips Project, a Heart of the Beast Theatre partnership in its fifth year with Little Earth of United Tribes, Waite House, and Collaborative Village Initiative.

For this year's parade, Phillips Project youth apprentices from Little Earth expressed a wish to make a giant Medicine Wheel rolling down the street to honor Native American culture in our neighborhood. The Medicine Wheel is a sacred indigenous symbol representing health, wholeness and unity. Youth from all three sites coincidentally and magically chose to all make wolves to accompany the medicine wheel. The wolf image represents the community-oriented yet independent strength of the youth and neighbors we work with. We howl for the healing of the whole earth.

Parade Story, Section 1: Humbly We Shape Our World

Humbly, we shape the rebeginning of our world, in turn. The storied origins of life are founded in the firmament of clay.

A new world is on its way. On a clear day you can hear it breathing. The former world, one of so many modes of domination, must be configured in different ways. "Mine"-ing must be challenged for its dehumanizing effect, which allows the trespass of humanity by constructs like borders, and so distorts the recognition of what it means to be human.

Clearing away possessions are ritual beings of sweeping change and dervishes of possibility, spinning round and round into some balance. The soft swishing and earthen scent of grasses raise the dust of the earth.

Large islands of clay-colored earth float by, seemingly separate, but part of a larger whole: Earth mother, bathed in the concrete of the street, source of life and possibility.

Here or there, we might see a turtle stroller with a young one, or attendants to new life, spare or bare and earthen in hue of muddy mix. They dig clay from the belly or hand of this larger creature, to link parade performer and parade observer in a covenant of shared care and creation.

May this new life be free from domination as it is given to those on the side of the parade's journey to care for, or maginatively collaborate by taking the clay in some new direction, in the same way we shape each other.

For some, clay is the embodiment of living power, of truth. In many of the world's stories, it is steeped in possibility, imagination and ritual, and used to create sacred objects. Clay is meditative in its response to push and pull. It breathes out when wet and absorbs moisture when dry. It carries the weight and intention of the imagining of the Earth, changing its quality according to its use and care. For us this section's intent is to charge each of us with the humbling task of shaping and caring for the world we share.

Clay. It's rain, dead leaves, dust, all my dead ancestors. Stones that have been ground into sand. Mud. The whole cycle of life and death.

– Martine Vermeulen

Section 2: The Earth is Our Home is Our Body is . . .

Take a look at the hermit crab. The hermit crab resourcefully makes its temporary home in empty sea shells left behind by snails. These shells are spirals, ancient symbols of transformation. The hermit crab carries its home with it everywhere it goes, reminding us that, very directly,the earth is our body is our home . . .

When the hermit crab outgrows its shell it will search for a better fit. Should the hermit crab stumble across a vacant shell whose size surpasses its needs, it will know that such resources could be put to better use and will wait for a larger hermit crab. When more hermit crabs arrive on the scene also finding the vacant shell too large, they too wait.When a hermit crab of appropriate size to fit in the vacant shell arrives,something remarkable occurs: The hermit crabs organize themselves into a line, largest t smallest. The largest crab hops into the vacant shell, and the others follow suit, hopping into each others' shells, and returning the smallest shell to the earth. It is an extraordinary communal effort.

If we, like the hermit crab, could share in this way, recognizing our own needs alongside those of others, taking only what we need and giving back to the earth, perhaps we would find ourselves in a much more harmonious and equitable society. One that is not so plagued by conflicts over resources and such gaping disparities between those with and those without.

Section 3: Safety is Measured in Human Kindness

To build a wall against each other,
to build more gray-colored jail cells,
To build a tightly closed door for yourself,
to brace yourself with a gun
Will these guarantee you more safety
and a better community?

Now is the time that we build
a space for our community,
Where countless stories are made
A space filled with the warmth of our heart
Where we can share laughter and tears.
The days are gone wen you had to cry alone
in a desert-like prison that you made for yourself,
Deprived of hope and compassion for others.

Let's put our heads together and walk abreast
Leaving behind lonely days.
Let's keep pace with each other --
I'll march to the beat of your drummer.

Let's we choose peace over violence.
Let's we share food and shelter
and put down the fear,

Let's take a moment
To remember the homeless,
Wishing them a warm place
to stay for the night.

As our act of resistance,
Let's walk arm in arm,
singing a song of spring
and life to come.

There is always time for us to
Cry with each other
and laugh with each other
in times of trouble
and in times of happiness.

It was called The Way. The site where the 4th precinct stands today, on Plymouth Ave on the north side of the city, wasn't always a police station. Before it became the place that, for so many, stood for "law" and "order" and "surveillance" and "profiling," it was another kind of place. Before a police station stod there, it was a community center.

During the protests, those 18 days when we gathered together despite the cold and our heartache, despite the threat of violence and our anger at the cops who killed an unarmed black man – despite all that, we made that place a center for community again. Cars pulled up day and night and brought hot coffee, warm food and dry clothes for the protesters. We talked and sang, we chanted, we made plans. Some of us learned to knit or build a fire. We gathered around donated food lined up on a long table to celebrate Thanksgiving together, as the first flakes of snow began to fall. And on those autumn days, we made it a community center again.

And why couldn't it be The Way again? What if we imagined other institutions that keep us apart, transformed into places that sustain us? What if we reject the idea that we need bars to keep us safe? What if we imagine that another Way is possible?

– Erin Sharkey

Section 4: Reparations on Our Soul: Have Heart, De-Mask, Wild Seed

Our ancestors were never slaves. Even though they were stuffed in the bottom of boats with pregnant bellies and terrified hearts in awe of evil that would shackle soulful humanity. Some of them jumped off the boat and whisper still from the bottom of the Atlantic. So don't act like you forget. Blackness is our wild and resilient magic. It is time to pay back the debt to our souls.

Sweet ancestral resiliency is our magic. And Wild Seed is our new possibility. Black soul shapeshifts and we alchemized into Prince, Malcolm X and Collard greens, James Baldwin, Basquiat and Angela Davis, Rock and Roll and Toni Morrison, Candied yams and Hip Hop, Mae Jemison and Serena Williams, agricultural advancements, Paul Robeson, Alice Walker, James Brown and Nina Simone and the Nay Nay, Phoenetic Ones and Bro Suns and infiniteness.

There is a debt owned for the wealth yielded from stolen lifetimes of Black existence. It is time to honor descendents with a mournful gratitude and radical returning of reparations.

Welcome to Wild Sees. We live in lush and green wildness and in tune with nature's rhythms. We heal with the earth. Home of the ild seed Public Schools where children learn the complex truth of heir ancestors and fly on butterfly wings. Where the Bank of Wild Seed: Reparations and Radical Returnings, pays out the resources earned by our ancestors who were unpaid, and unacknowledged.

Speak your truth


Bring to light






When we address the needs of our heart, hold them in their brokenness and wholeness, when we are able to heal our hearts, without fear, we open ourselves to the expansiveness of our beings. We see our souls reflect the vastness of the cosmos. Collectively, we can bring forth new realities when we are better in tune with the infinite.

Section 5: Turning, Turning, the Earth is Returning

My struggle doesn't erase my smile,
Shouting out expands my lungs
as well as my prayer;
This rage doesn't come from me.
When I raise my fist,
My culture is alive,
Lifting the dust on my feet.
The earth is my color,
a cosmic melting pot,
all the blood, all
all the races, all
all the being, all
all dancing together
from one side to the other
of the Earth's smile.
Smiling, smiling
the earth is turning.
Turning, turning
Earth's returning.

In our worldview, we are beings who come from the Earth, from the Water, from the Corn. The Lenca people are ancestral guardians of the Rivers, in turn protected by the spirits of young girls, who teach us that giving our lives in various ways for the protection of the rivers, is giving our lives for the well-being of humanity and of the planet.

Our Mother Earth – (militarized, fenced-in, poisoned, a place where basic human rights are systematically violated) – demands that we take action: Let us build societies that are able to coexist in a dignified way in a way that protects life.

Let us come together and remain hopeful as we defend and care for the blood of this Earth and its spirits.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
"Radical Returnings" – Mayday 2016 (Part 1)
"And Still We Rise!" – Mayday 2015 (Part I)
"And Still We Rise!" – Mayday 2015 (Part II)
Mystics of Wonder, Agents of Change (Mayday 2014 – Part 1)
"The Spiritual Dialectic of WONDER?!" (Mayday 2014 – Part 2)
See the World! (Mayday 2013)
The End of the World as We Know It (2012)
"Uproar!" on the Streets of South Minneapolis: Part 1 (2010)
"Uproar!" on the Streets of South Minneapolis: Part 2 (2010)
Getting Started: Mayday 2009 (Part 1)
Celebrating Our Common Treasury: Mayday 2009 (Part 2)
Mayday and a "New Bridge" (2008)
The Time is Now! (2006)

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Quote of the Day

I believe that the church should not only say it's sorry to the person who is gay whom it has offended, but it must say sorry to the poor, also, to mistreated women, to children forced to work.

I will repeat the same thing I said [in 2013]. I will also repeat what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: that [gay people] should not be discriminated against, that they have to be respected, pastorally accompanied. The matter is a person that has that condition [and] that has good will because they search for God. Who are we to judge them?

– Pope Francis
Quoted in Joshua J. McElwee's article,
"Francis: Christians Must Apologize
to Gay People for Marginalizing Them
The National Catholic Reporter
June 26, 2016

Related Off-site Links:
Pope Says Christians and the Roman Catholic Church Should Seek Forgiveness from Homosexuals for Past Treatment – Philip Pullella (Reuters via Religion News Service, June 26, 2016).
LGBT Catholics Welcome Statement of Pope Francis That the Catholic Church Must Apologize to Gay People, But Say Apology Must Be Followed by Concrete Actions – DignityUSA (June 26, 2016).
Pope Calls for Church to Apologize to LGBT People and Others Who Have Been Marginalized – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, June 26, 2016).
A Catholic Obligation for a Gay Apology? – Terence Weldon (Queering the Church, June 27, 2016).
German Cardinal Says Catholic Church Should Apologise to Gay Community – John Patrick-Kierans (Dublin Live, June 24, 2016).

UPDATE: Keeping Pope Francis' Comments on the LGBT Community in Context – James Martin, SJ (Commonweal, June 27, 2016).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
"Trajectory is More Important Than the Current Status"
Why I Take Hope in Pope Francis' Statement on Gay Priests
Catholic Church Can Overcome Fear of LGBT People

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Something to Think About . . .

Related Off-site Links:
Brexit Wins: British Voters Have Voted to Leave the European Union (EU) – Kevin Drum (Mother Jones, June 24, 2016).
Who Should We Blame for Brexit – and Where Do We Go From Here? – Joe Macaré (TruthOut.org, June 24, 2016).
Grieve Now If You Must – But Prepare for the Great Challenges Ahead – Owen Jones (The Guardian, June 24, 2016).
The British Are Frantically Googling What the EU Is, Hours After Voting to Leave It – Brian Fung (The Washington Post, June 24, 2016).
After Shocking Vote, Can UK's Radical Left Navigate a "Left Exit" from EU Neoliberalism?Democracy Now! (June 24, 2016).
UK Independence Party Leader Admits His Bold Brexit Claim Was a "Mistake" – Inae Oh (Mother Jones, June 24, 2016).
Why Brexit Is Much, Much Scarier Than You Think – Stephen Marche (Esquire, June 24, 2016).
The Left Should Celebrate Brexit: UK Just Kicked Neoliberalism in the Nuts – Matt Ellis (Rational Radical, June 24, 2016).
Brexit and the New Global Rebellion – Richard Eskow (Common Dreams, June 24, 2016).
Brexit Is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions – Glenn Greenwald (The Intercept, June 25, 2016).
Brexit Backlash Against EU, A Revolt Against Elites – Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers (PopularResistance.org, June 25, 2016).
Is Brexit Win a Warning Signal for Trump-Era America? – Lauren McCauley (Common Dreams, June 25, 2016).
Why the British Said No to Europe – John Pilgers (JohnPilgers.com, June 25, 2016).
British Exit From EU Not Inevitable, Despite Referendum – Robert Mackey (The Intercept, June 24, 2016).

UPDATES: A Sharp Spike in Racist Incidents Reported After the Brexit Vote – Max Bearak (The Washington Post, June 26, 2016).
Brexit Has Given Voice to Racism – and Too Many Are Complicit – Miqdaad Versi (The Guardian, June 27, 2016).
I Voted for Brexit – and Now I Realise What a Terrible Mistake I Made – Emily Tierney (The Independent, June 26, 2016).
The Loophole That Could Prevent Brexit – Ian Johnston (The Independent, June 27, 2016).
Brexit and the Diseased Liberal Mind – Jonathan Cook (Common Dreams, June 27, 2016).
This is Now Project Betrayal – and We Are All Victims – Polly Toynbee (The Guardian, June 27, 2016).

Image: Photographer unknown.

Friday, June 24, 2016

"I Will Dance"

Since 2009 I've shared every year during the month of June a series of "Queer Appreciation" posts. Each series is comprised of a number of informed and insightful writings to mark Gay Pride Month . . . or, as I prefer to call it (since 2011), Queer Appreciation Month. I always made a point of including in each series a diverse range of writers and topics, and in general the writings I shared were positive, proactive and celebratory.

This June I find myself shocked and saddened by the terrible mass shooting in Orlando, Florida which left 49 patrons of the Pulse gay dance club dead and over 50 injured. Over the past two weeks I've shared my own and others' thoughts on various aspects of this tragedy. (See, for instance, here, here, here, and here.) I must admit I've often found it difficult to feel positive or celebratory.

And yet, I want to remain hopeful . . .

Accordingly, instead of a Gay Pride/Queer Appreciation series this year, I've decided to share just one image – and that's the one below. This image showed up in my Facebook news feed a few days ago and moved me on a deep level. It shows a young man holding a placard containing a beautiful and powerful message by Paul Winkelaar, written just hours after the Orlando massacre. For me, and perhaps for you too, this message conveys profound truths about what it means to be a human embodiment of the Divine Presence in a world of violence, strife and fear.

I hope all who view this image will find solace, inspiration and hope in its message.

See also the related Wild Reed posts:
And As We Dance . . .
The Soul of a Dancer
Discerning and Embodying Sacred Presence in Times of Violence and Strife
Alan Cumming on "This Thing About Pleasure and Admitting to Desire"
Called to the Field of Compassion
The Gifts of Homosexuality


The Wild Reed's 2015 Queer Appreciation series:
Vittorio Lingiardi on the Limits of the Hetero/Homo Dichotomy
Reclaiming and Re-Queering Pride
Standing with Jennicet Gutiérrez, "the Mother of Our Newest Stonewall Movement"
Questions for Archbishop Kurtz re. the U.S. Bishops' Response to the Supreme Court's Marriage Equality Ruling
Clyde Hall: "All Gay People, in One Form or Another, Have Something to Give to This World, Something Rich and Very Wonderful"
The (Same-Love) Dance Goes On

The Wild Reed's 2014 Queer Appreciation series:
Michael Bayly's "The Kiss" Wins the People's Choice Award at This Year's Twin Cities Pride Art Exhibition
Same-Sex Desires: "Immanent and Essential Traits Transcending Time and Culture"
Lisa Leff on Five Things to Know About Transgender People
Steven W. Thrasher on the Bland and Misleading "Gay Inc" Treatment of the Struggle to Overturn Prop 8
Chris Mason Johnson's Test: A Film that "Illuminates Why Queer Cinema Still Matters"
Sister Teresa Forcades on Queer Theology
Omar Akersim: Muslim and Gay
Catholics Make Their Voices Heard on LGBTQ Issues

The Wild Reed's 2013 Queer Appreciation series:
Doing Papa Proud
Jesse Bering: "It’s Time to Throw 'Sexual Preference' into the Vernacular Trash"
Dan Savage on How Leather Guys, Dykes on Bikes, Go-Go Boys, and Drag Queens Have Helped the LGBT Movement
On Brokeback Mountain: Remembering Queer Lives and Loves Never Fully Realized
Manly Love
A Catholic Presence at Gay Pride – 2013
Worldwide Gay Pride – 2013

The Wild Reed's 2012 Queer Appreciation series:
The Theology of Gay Pride
Bi God, Somebody Listen
North America: Perhaps Once the "Queerest Continent on the Planet"
Gay Men and Modern Dance
A Spirit of Defiance
A Catholic Presence at Gay Pride – 2012
Worldwide Gay Pride – 2012

The Wild Reed's 2011 Gay Pride/Queer Appreciation series:
Gay Pride: A Celebration of True Humility
Dusty Springfield: Queer Icon
Gay Pioneer Malcolm Boyd on Survival – and Victory – with Grace
Senator Scott Dibble's Message of Hope and Optimism
Parvez Sharma on Islam and Homosexuality
A Catholic Presence at Gay Pride – 2011
Worldwide Gay Pride – 2011

The Wild Reed’s 2010 Gay Pride series:
Standing Strong
Growing Strong
Jesus and Homosexuality
It Is Not Good To Be Alone
The Bisexual: “Living Consciously and Consistently in the Place Where the Twain Meet”
Spirituality and the Gay Experience
Recovering the Queer Artistic Heritage
A Catholic Presence at Gay Pride – 2010
Worldwide Gay Pride – 2010

The Wild Reed's 2009 Gay Pride series:
A Mother’s Request to President Obama: Full Equality for My Gay Son
Marriage Equality in Massachusetts: Five Years On
It Shouldn’t Matter. Except It Does
Gay Pride as a Christian Event
Not Just Another Political Special Interest Group
Can You Hear Me, Yet, My Friend?
A Catholic Presence at Gay Pride – 2009
Worldwide Gay Pride – 2009

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Progressive Perspectives on Islam and Homosexuality in the Aftermath of Orlando

Above: Pav Akhtar (left), stands with others on a float at an LGBT Pride event. Akhtar is the chair of Imaan, an organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Muslims.

In the aftermath of the June 12 mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which left 49 people dead and over 50 injured, there has been much discussion about Islam and homosexuality.

This is because the shooter, Omar Mateen, was a Muslim and his targeted victims were predominately LGBTQ. In addition, there are multiple claims that Mateen himself was a gay man, one who struggled with internalized homophobia which may well have been fueled by Islam's prohibition on acting on one's feelings of same-sex attraction. It's a prohibition that is also found in official Roman Catholic teaching. Yet just as Catholicism and other branches of Christianity have evolved in their thinking and, in some cases, their teaching on homosexuality, so too, many believe, can and should Islam. Indeed there are many Muslims, both gay and straight, challenging taboos on gender and sexuality within Islam.

Today at The Wild Reed I share some of the more enlightened commentaries on the topic of Islam and homosexuality that I've come across since the tragic events in Orlando. All but the last of these are written by Muslims, including Omar Sarwar and Samra Habib who identify as gay/queer Muslims.


[S]ame-sex attraction and activity has not been unusual in Muslim societies. A wealth of top quality scholarship has demonstrated that Islam, Muslim societies and the Shariah tradition did not conceive of ‘homosexuality’ as an identity. But they did acknowledge that same-sex attraction occurred, often for ‘natural’ reasons (e.g. it was considered normal for men to be attracted to beardless youths, who shared feminine beauty). It is only specific actions, such as sodomy (in Arabic, Liwat), that show up on the Shariah radar as sins or punishable offenses. It is not same-sex attraction or desires that the Shariah prohibits. It is acting on them.

In the wake of the Orlando shooting, however, Islam’s disapproval of same-sex acts has come under renewed scrutiny. Some critics have argued that any disapproval of homosexuality is homophobic, and that any indulgence of homophobia lays fertile ground for violence against the LGBTQ community. Others have made more specific objections, namely that the death penalty for sodomy (Liwat) in the Shariah creates a particularly slippery slope towards violence against gays. If the Shariah prescribes death for homosexuality, they contend, then wasn’t the Orlando shooter just executing God’s will? Isn’t that a huge problem?

. . . As a Muslim American, I support the right of same-sex couples to have civil marriages according to US law. Islam does not approve of same-sex acts, but I don’t believe that the social or religious traditions of any one group should dictate what sort of contracts or unions those of other beliefs can engage in. I want to preserve my right to have my Shariah marriage contract with my wife recognized by US law even though I know many Americans consider Islam’s conception of marriage to be unpalatable. I don’t see the desire of gay couples as any different.

. . . As we all attempt to deal with the shock of Omer Mateen’s bloody crime in Orlando, we should keep in mind what was truly criminal in his actions. Many find his religious beliefs revolting. Many find his homophobia disturbing. But Americans have a right to disagree on these things. The crime Mateen committed wasn’t believing that God declared that same-sex acts are sinful. The crime he committed wasn’t hating gays. The crime he committed (with all asterisks for presumption of innocence, etc.) was that he intentionally, knowingly and with malicious intent shot, killed and even executed in cold blood 49 innocent people, wounding dozens of others. He might have thought he was doing God’s work, but the Shariah has made it clear since the beginning of Islam that it is not for individuals to take God’s law into their own hands. Even if Mateen were living in some medieval, idealized Muslim city, ruled by the Shariah and free from all the evils of the modern world, he would be dragged in chains before the kadi (judge) on the charge of mass murder.

– Jonathan Brown
Excerpted from "The Shariah, Homosexuality, and
Safeguarding Each Other’s Rights in a Pluralist Society
The Almadina Institute
June 18, 2016

As a gay Muslim, I stand at the crossroads of two cultural and political identities often seen as mutually exclusive, simultaneously combating homophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry. Yet it is this hyphenated identity which uniquely positions LGBT Muslims for commentary on the Orlando shooting. We are making demands of the LGBT community, the American government, and conservative non-Muslim religious leaders who continue to fan the flames of anti-gay prejudice. Many of us are also calling on the mainstream American Muslim community to address the problem of homophobia in its midst.

. . . It's all well and good for American Muslims to condemn the barbarity of groups like ISIS, but those who promote the view that same-sex desire is a perversion must still take responsibility for subjecting LGBT Muslims to a form of psychological abuse which all too often kills them. The good news is that, according to polls, the mainstream American Muslim community is becoming increasingly accepting of homosexuality. American Muslim leaders must make a stronger effort to advance progressive, queer-positive interpretations of scripture, forge meaningful alliances with LGBT groups, and spurn the prevailing homophobic theology which drives LGBT Muslims to despair and misery. Only then can they justly claim to be practicing an openhearted, inclusive Islam.

– Omar Sarwar
Excerpted from "American Muslim Community
Must Search Its Soul After Orlando Massacre
Religion Dispatches
June 21, 2016

A strict strand of Islamic law metes out an unforgiving approach to straight sex outside of marriage, called zina, and gay sex, called liwat when it involves men, from the Biblical and Koranic story of Lot. As leaders of American Muslim groups rush to condemn the carnage in Orlando, it is important to note the persistence of these sex laws in Islam and to support Muslim reformers trying to repeal them. We are never going to see a real cultural shift in the Muslim mind-set about sex and homosexuality until we call out and repeal these scarlet-letter sex laws, and instead choose an interpretation of Islam that values compassion, privacy, acceptance and love over judgment and bigotry.

– Asra Q. Nomani
Excerpted from "Repeal Islam’s Scarlet-Letter Sex Laws"
The Washington Post
June 15, 2016

We are now used to the fact that, every time a criminally misguided Muslim commits an act of violence, the entire religion and all its followers are questioned and placed under suspicion in a way that isn’t replicated with other faiths. We – and this of course includes queer Muslims – have to take extra care walking down the street at night and entering our mosques for fear of Islamophobic attacks. Muslim organizations and activist groups are tasked with the responsibility of releasing public statements, apologizing for the actions of terrorists and reminding the world that Islam promotes peace so innocent Muslims who are just trying to go about their daily lives don’t suffer repercussions.

– Samra Habib
Excerpted from "Queer Muslims Exist
– and We Are in Mourning Too
The Guardian
June 15, 2016

No religion has a monopoly on homophobia. The track record of exclusion and outright abuse of gay men and women in the name of God is a depressing reality across faiths. But we cannot use those analogies to excuse our own shortcomings. Omar Mateen went on a rampage at a gay club out of hatred he attributed to his faith. He shot and massacred Americans for thriving in their safe space, for being among those they love and were loved by, and he did it during both Ramadan and a Pride Month that epitomizes self-love in the face of hate. The toxic cocktail of gun violence, unchecked mental illness and deranged ideology that propelled the massacre at Pulse is a threat to all Americans.

We must stand up against the anti-Muslim responses that come so easily in this current political climate. But for Muslims, this is also a moment to reflect more deeply on how we feel about living in a country where gay rights are central, where marriage equality is real and coexistence is the only way forward.

– Bilal Qureshi
Excerpted from "The Muslim Silence on Gay Rights"
The New York Times
June 13, 2016

No religion is inherently peaceful or violent, nor is it inherently anything other than what its followers make it out to be. People are violent, and people can dress their violence up in any number of justifying causes that seek to relieve people of their personal responsibility because the cause or religion, be it Communism or Catholicism or Islam, is simply bigger than themselves. It’s very convenient for both the perpetrator of violence and his accuser, and yet totally useless: Something can be done with a person who has transgressed, but what can you do with an amorphous concept?

Christianity, as I have seen it practiced by my friends or by Christians who saved Jews during the Holocaust, can be beautiful and peaceful and loving. Islam, as it was practiced in medieval Spain, was beautiful and peaceful, too. It can also be hideous and violent, as we’ve seen in many parts of the Middle East, in Europe, and in America in recent decades. Judaism, which people either equate with consumptive erudition or insularity, can wax violent, too. Hanukkah, every secular Jew’s favorite holiday, celebrates in part the victory of the radical, purist Jews over their assimilated, Hellenized brethren. And for my co-religionists piling onto Muslims for their homophobia, let’s remember Yishai Schlissel, who stabbed six at a gay pride parade in Jerusalem — and that was his second attack on the LGBT event. And, heck, let’s throw in Baruch Goldstein, too. Remember him, the guy who killed 29 Muslims as they prayed? Is he an exception, or does his act define Judaism’s inherent characteristics?

Even Buddhism, which many imagine to be the very definition of peace, can be bloody. Just look at Sri Lanka, where a Buddhist majority fought a vicious civil war against the Hindu north, or Myanmar, where Buddhists have violently persecuted the Muslim Rohingya.

No religion is inherently violent. No religion is inherently peaceful. Religion, any religion, is a matter of interpretation, and it is often in that interpretation that we see either beauty or ugliness — or, more often, if we are mature enough to think nuanced thoughts, something in between.

– Julia Ioffe
Excerpted from "If Islam Is a Religion of Violence, So Is Christianity"
June 14, 2016

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Parvez Sharma on Islam and Homosexuality
Coming Out in Africa and the Middle East
Omar Akersim: Muslim and Gay
To Be Gay in Iraq is to Be a "Defenseless Target"
Liberated to Be Together
Same-Sex Desires: "Immanent and Essential Traits Transcending Time and Culture"
Remembering and Reclaiming a Wise, Spacious, and Holy Understanding of Homosexuality

Related Off-site Links:
Orlando is a Chance for Us Muslims to Reassess Our Stance on Homosexuality – Muhsin Hendricks (The World Post, June 20, 2016).
Meet the Gay Muslims Coming Out After the Orlando MassacreNBN News (June 19, 2016).
Orlando Shooting: It's Different Now, But Muslims Have a Long History of Accepting Homosexuality – Shoaib Daniyal (Scroll.in, June 18, 2016).
American Muslims Must Address Religiously Sanctioned Homophobia – Omar Sarwar (The Advocate, June 16, 2016).
What's It Like Being a Gay Muslim? – Homa Khaleeli (The Guardian, July 28, 2009).

Recommended Books:
Homosexuality in Islam: Critical Reflection on Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Muslims by Scott Siraj al-Haqq Kugle (Oneworld Publications, 2010).
Unspeakalbe Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East by Brian Whitaker (University of California Press, 2006).
Living Out Islam: Voices of Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Muslims by Scott Siraj al-Haqq Kugle (NYU Press, 2013).
Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism by Omid Safi (Oneworld Publications, 2003).
Progressive Muslim Identities: Personal Stories from the U.S. and Canada, edited by Vanessa Karam, Olivia Samad and Ani Zonneveld (Oracle Releasing, 2011).

Recommended Films:

The Road to Love (2004), directed by Remi Lange.
A Jihad for Love (2009), directed by Parvez Sharma.
Naz and Maalik (2016), directed by Jay Dockendorf.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"Radical Returnings" – Mayday 2016

As I mentioned in a previous post, on Sunday, May 1st I attended the 42nd annual In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre's Mayday parade in Minneapolis.

This year's Mayday theme was "Radical Returnings," and was all about "turning towards each other rather than away from each other, repairing our relationships and the earth, finding redemption and freedom in tune with the turning of the earth and the return of spring."

Following is the beautiful and profound welcoming statement from this year's Mayday celebration program.

From the core of our hearts, we turn to each other.

Happy Mayday!

On this Mayday we honor our role as humans, relatives of each other and all the earth. But what is it to be human, to fully inhabit the skin and soul of our humanity? And how do we live together?

This is the time for Reparations -- for the land and water, for our ancestors, and for each other. This is the time to admit and address the systemic theft and exploitation of land and people; a crime that has benefited and continues to privilege whiteness. What do we each offer, give up, bring forward to heal the oppressive relationships of injustice we've grown accustomed to?

Let us believe that it is possible to step into the core of our humanity to care for the world we share, free from domination, flourishing in imagination, shaped by love and honesty, and nurtured with joy. A world of freedom!

As I've done in previous years, I spent time before the start of this year's Mayday parade walking around and taking photos in the staging area. That's where the images in this first of two Mayday 2016 posts were taken. Enjoy!

What It Means to Be a Human Being

. . . In the reality of many realities
How we see what we see
Affects the quality of our reality

We are children of earth and sky
DNA (Descendent Now Ancestor)
Human being, physical spirit

We are in time and space
But we are from beyond time and space
The past is part of the resent
The future is part of the present
Life and being are interwoven
We are the DNA of earth,
moon, planets, stars
We are related to the universal
Creator, created, creation
Spirit and intelligence
With clarity, being and human as power

We are a part of the memories of evolution
These memories carry knowledge
These memories carry identity
Beneath race, gender, class, age
Beneath citizen, business, state, religion
We are human beings
And these memories are trying to remind us
"Human beings, human beings,
It's time to rise up,
Remember who we are!"

NEXT: Part 2

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
"And Still We Rise!" – Mayday 2015 (Part I)
"And Still We Rise!" – Mayday 2015 (Part II)
Mystics of Wonder, Agents of Change (Mayday 2014 – Part 1)
"The Spiritual Dialectic of WONDER?!" (Mayday 2014 – Part 2)
See the World! (Mayday 2013)
The End of the World as We Know It (2012)
"Uproar!" on the Streets of South Minneapolis: Part 1 (2010)
"Uproar!" on the Streets of South Minneapolis: Part 2 (2010)
Getting Started: Mayday 2009 (Part 1)
Celebrating Our Common Treasury: Mayday 2009 (Part 2)
Mayday and a "New Bridge" (2008)
The Time is Now! (2006)

Images: Michael J. Bayly.