One June 12, the biggest mass shooting in recent us history took place in Orlando, Florida. The entire world shook, as people scrambled for words to try to explain what happened. It was an incident that truly changed the perception of LGBTQIA communities. Although the world seemed United as rainbow flags soared the sky in protests and on skyscrapers, there was still an underlying issue that needed immediate attention. Vigils and hashtags are not enough and there is a lot more work that needs to be done. Being a part of WISE (women's initiative for self-empowerment), means talking about topics that are relevant and that will lead to productive conversations as well as taking action to support the rights of marginalized groups and to empower minority groups.
In the wake of the Orlando shooting, WISE organized a halaqa, otherwise known as a discussion circle where Muslims talk about topics that are important to them. The topic for this gathering was community inclusivity regarding the LGBTQI community. Many people participated in this discussion and it brought up many important points. One being that as Muslims, it is our duty to stand in solidarity with the victims as there was absolutely no reason for them to lose their lives that day. Islam demonstrates the fact that if one kills a human being, it's as if he has killed humanity. Coming together and talking about compassion and mercy towards one another shed light on the fact that we have to keep trying. We must persevere and stick together as minorities in the United States. More importantly, it is important for Muslims to create inclusive spaces for LGBTQI communities and make sure that discussions are conducted in a proper manner in order for everyone to benefit. We must also realize the importance of being inclusive of Muslim LGBTQI members within our community. This topic has been a sensitive one for years but it is time to break the ice and create social change. We must create an environment where everyone feels included, secure and comfortable.
At the WISE halaqa, Muslims who identified as being part of the LGBTQI community spoke up and voiced the ways they feel excluded by society as well as the Muslim community. WISE's safe space allowed these members to be able to share their thoughts as we showed our unwavering support. It truly felt like a loving community by the end of the talk. Peoples thoughts and stories resonated with everyone, as we committed to end homophobia, islamophobia and xenophobia. We cannot let fear over come love, for love is what erases fear.