POSITIVELY AWARE March/April 2012comment
Great article, Ms. Saltmarsh, and it helps push this very important issue out of the closet, so to speak, and into the streets. Having known the brothers in this article for several years now, I am very happy to see them take the steps to bring enlightenment to the MSM/HIV community and that being Muslim does not keep them from facing discrimination based on their sexual orientation and their status. Looking forward to working with these brothers in the near future.
—Imam Daayiee Abdullah
Masjid An-Nural Isslaah;
Ms. Saltmarsh, I thank you and Positively Aware for such a well written article that gives another voice to the work we are doing. It is bittersweet to see that what we are doing is not only bringing awareness to health disparities, but also to the phobias and stigmas that are still prevalent within today’s society. Our hope is that this will help bring awareness to the need for providing quality health care services not only to MSM and Muslims, but to all who are in need.
Masjid An-Nural Isslaah; Washington, DC
Unfortunately, I see those who (claim to) practice Islam as being largely inflexible. Some of the leaders within Islamic communities are downright superstitious and backwards.
For example, I’ve heard the Sodom and Gomorrah story being taught to youngsters as an example of a city that was the lowest place on earth, because God considers homosexuality to be the lowest thing one can do. This is not only ridiculous in terms of logic, but entirely inaccurate. By scriptural accounts, the city was destroyed because people were inhospitable, uncaring, and because there weren’t any good people in it. (Obviously there were hetero people there, or the city wouldn’t have survived for long.) Nevertheless, this is the trash that’s being taught.
Since at least a couple of kids in each classroom will grow up to be gay, I find it incredibly cruel to promote such perspectives—and yet the abuse continues, both within Islamic communities and in Christian institutions. (Mormons are about as blind as Muslims in this regard.)
With such heavy indoctrinations from such an early age, I don’t see religious tolerance coming any time soon.
Another reader responds to spectrewriter’s comment:
We’ve heard the same garbage from “Christians” like Fred Phelps and yet we all know Christians who are very accepting of LGBT people. Queer Muslims and our LGBT-friendly Muslim friends are opening a dialogue within our ummah that is admittedly about 40 years behind our Christian and Jewish brothers and sisters, but with their examples to learn from, we can catch up quickly. I’ve been happily surprised at how widely I’ve been accepted as a gay Muslim by straight Muslim friends. I realize that is a small pocket within a largely homophobic milieu, but there is discernable progress and enough historical precedent to show that prejudice will melt away on both sides.
Thanks, Jeff, for continuing to sound the horn for all of us.
I wanted to compliment POSITIVELY AWARE for Nelson Vergel’s superb article, “Outsmarting HIV With Healthy Eating.” This was without a doubt the most practical, easy-to-understand article I’ve seen on this topic to date. As an HIV provider I am frequently asked for nutrition advice by my patients. I thought I was fairly informed, but this filled in many of my gaps in real-world practical advice. I would encourage all HIV patients (and their loved ones, support network, and providers) to read his article.
—Chad Zawitz, MD
Great job with the January+February issue. I loved the range of articles about faith-based responses to the AIDS crisis, especially the African American churches and Islam. I wrote my Doctor of Ministry dissertation on a Hindu interfaith AIDS ministry, The River Fund, out of Sebastian, Florida (www.riverfund.org), with outreach in New York City and Atlanta, as well as an orphanage in Uganda. The LIFE program that TPAN offers is run by Shanti, as you may know. Shanti started as an HIV/AIDS hospice/service agency in San Francisco with a non-sectarian Eastern religious philosophy about loving compassion and care.In faith and fellowship.
—Rev. Vilius Rudra Dundzila, PhD, DMin
I have followed TPAN and POSITIVELY AWARE for a number of years. Your magazine is one of the most consistently informative, and I continue to enjoy reading it.
Our program, Yoga of the Breath for People Living with HIV (hiv.artofliving.org), is one that changes the quality of people’s lives—from the newly diagnosed to those who have been living with HIV and on ART for years. The changes are not only in the mental/emotional sphere, but physiological as well.
Perhaps we can work together to serve the HIV community.Continue to do the excellent work that you do.
—Francesca A. Jackson, DC
YOGA OF THE BREATH FOR PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV
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