Last weekend, a group of LGBT Muslims celebrated the end of Ramadan with a special feast on the banks of the Seine.
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims observe a strict fast and partake in charitable giving and peace-making.
At the end of Ramadan, Muslims throughout the world celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the Festival of Fast-Breaking.
It is both a family and community occasion to celebrate the end of fasting, and thanking Allah for giving them strength throughout the fast.
During Eid Al-Fitr, Muslims have a special celebratory meal, the first daytime meal they would have had in a month. It is a joyous family occasion and also a time of forgiveness, and making amends.
On a sunny afternoon last Saturday (25 August) a group of 25 LGBT Muslims came together to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr with a picnic on the banks of river Seine, Paris.
Attendees were part of a LGBT Muslim free expression group, arranged by Collective of French Muslim Homosexual organizations (known as HM2F), which meet every month in the LGBT centre of Paris.
Gay Star News interveiwed Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, the chair and founder of HM2F, about this special celebration and occasion: ‘We saw lots of people who don’t usually attend our monthly meetings.
‘People were very keen to participate, I think it’s because many of us need this space to celebrate.
‘Many Muslim LGBT people face pressure, especially during Ramadan, and even more so when living with their families, on the issues of faith and sexuality. So this is a joyous celebration and also a form of release.
‘For many, it’s the only place where they can celebrate a Eid Al-Fitr as well as being gay, a place where you can be proud of your faith and sexuality. ‘
This year 25 people participated, a mixed group with women being a third of the participants.
Zahed continues: ‘We sat on the sand at a quay by the river Seine, where Paris Plage [Paris beach] takes place.
‘It was a warm day, everyone brought something to eat and drink, we had lots of food, laughs, and shared stories.
‘We spoke about each other’s experiences during Ramadan, the summer, some talked about their participation in an LGBT pilgrimage to Mecca in June, while others talked about their holidays.
‘As I mentioned we had several new members, including a gay refugee from Mauritania.
‘He was ostracized from his village, stoned and stabbed with a knife in his stomach; he almost died, but made it to France.
‘It was very moving to hear his story which although sad, was filled with the hope of finding a new life and beginning in France.
‘Another new member, a girl of Tunisian descent, who was brought up in France, told us about her intentions to move to Tunisia and help the LGBT movement there.
‘Three years ago, people would say that it’s not possible to be gay from a Muslim background. I am so glad to say that after three years of gays and lesbians celebrating Eid Al-Fitr together , we have achieved that and so much more.
‘It means it is possible to be gay and Muslim, whilist celebrating both together.’