Islamophobia still exists. Despite awareness from different sources, the internet and many Muslim voices coming out with their real-life stories Muslims were victims in many instances. In India, we have Muslims as neighbours, colleagues, classmates and fellow citizens. Though they are considered family for us, there are instances where Muslims were treated differently with influence from external affairs or whatsoever.

Being a part of the LGBTQI+ community as a Muslim only makes it harder. The LGBTQI+ community Muslims stay closeted for many different reasons, and their religion can be one. This is where Pride comes in, as Iman Fest was going to be a part of it to support and represent Muslim members of the community.

The Pride event at Trafalgar Square in London, also known as Pride London, is conducted every summer for the LGBTQ community. This event always created a sense of freedom, a celebration for people of different races to come together. It all started in 1972 with around 2000 participants. The most recent Pride event in 2019 is considered to be the 50th year since their first event of the Stonewall riots- taking into account their first unofficial event in 1962. Initially, it was called “Lesbian and Gay Pride.” The name, however, changed to “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride” in 1996, which eventually became the largest free music festival in Europe.

This event became “Pride London” in 2004, which in turn organized many events for the LGBTQ community. Trafalgar Square is commonplace for all such events. Some of the themes from the past events are #FreedomTo, #PrideHeroes, #NoFilter, #LoveHappensHere, #PrideMatters, #PrideJubilee.

This year, Iman Fest was planning to support the 3.4 Million Muslim population in Great Britain. The three main speakers include three main people:

  • Transgender activist Asifa Lahore, who believes that voices from different background be heard, especially, fighting against Islamophobia, Homophobia, Transphobia and Racism.
  • Queer British-Iraqi writer and filmmaker Amrou Al-Kadhi, who talks about breaking the norm of media controlling the narrative about the Queer community.
  • US black bisexual Muslim activist and author Blair Imani, who became viral with her parent’s actions to show her all the support. She later founded Equality for HER, a platform to support and empower women and non-binary people.

The originally scheduled date was scheduled to be on April 11th. The price of the ticket was £20 for a full ticket and £5 for those with low income. The ticket comes with lunch, dinner and refreshments. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this had to be postponed. The expected postponed date for now is 12th December, 2020.

However, there is still a way to support the Muslim LGBTQI+ community before December.

A virtual Iftar has been planned. Hafsa Qureshi will lead a conversation on the value of and our responsibilities towards our community during COVID19. The virtual event is this Saturday, 2nd May at 7PM, UK time. The form to sign up is linked above, which you need to fill up, so you can receive the Zoom link after the registration.

Hafsa Qureshi, 25, Birmingham, works in recruitment support for Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service. She was named 2019 Bi Role Model of the year by Stonewall, for sharing her experience as BAME, LGBTQ Muslim woman. In the past, she talked about inclusion and diversity, her own struggles of coming out and talking about how it would have been better placed to have LGBTQ in the curriculum while growing up. She is active in LGBT network, also was involved on Bi Visibility Day in both organizing the event and speaking on the panel. 

Virtual Iftar can actually reach out to those people who couldn’t even travel before COVID19. It is an opportunity for everyone to come together and somehow attempt to make it a better place for everyone.

A few months back, in crowdfunding campaign statement, Imaan stated, “We as LGBTIQ+ Muslims often find ourselves isolated, without community and frequently facing homophobic, biphobic, transphobic and Islamaphobic abuse.” 

“The event will build on the incredible events, we organized in the past and feature panels, discussions, speakers, arts, culture and history – a first for LGBTQI Muslims.”

This event would bring the community together, knowing more similar people who have gone through the same struggles as themselves. It is remarkable as to how some fun music party can actually mean a lot more than entertainment. There are countries which don’t have gatherings or parties which represent something. However, knowing about one of the best makes us feel lighter, maybe we too can initiate some kind of small gathering. The pride event in London also started with 2000 members, there is nothing like too small contribution. Attending the virtual Iftar might help us, who are closeted too.