London’s second ever Big Gay Iftar proved communities can come together to show love and solidarity.
Held in St Andrew’s Church in Waterloo, the Big Gay Iftar brought together the Muslim and LGBTI communities to celebrate the end of Ramadan.
With a packed-out room and a lengthy waiting list, guests ate together on a fabulous giant rainbow flag.
There were also buckets, where guests could donate to the Finsbury Park Mosque – a London mosque involved in a recent attack.
Gay Star News spoke to three Muslims involved in the Big Gay Iftar and their thoughts on how the month of Ramadan went this year.
An Iftar is a fast-breaking ceremony that you do during Ramadan, but why Big Gay Iftar?
So when Orlando happened last year, I was already having an Iftar around at my house for about eight people and just realized that wasn’t enough. So I called Giles [faith leader of St Andrews Church] and Giles said ‘Yeah sure, have the church hall’ and so I thought how I was going to get people to the church.
Here’s the church, here’s the steeple – where are the people?
Miraculously, within four days, we managed to get 80 people involved and it was an amazing event so we had to do it again.
When I put it out this year, there was nothing for us to react to. But when London Bridge happened and Finsbury Park happened, I thought now, more than ever, we need to come together.
The Muslim community and the gay community are two that never really get together, so let’s put them all in one room and see what happens. It’s changed my life.
I also want to say a massive thanks to the police.
I got an email a week ago from an anonymous email address, but the name of the person was the name of one of the London Bridge attackers. And all the email said was, ‘This event will be attacked.’
I forwarded it straight to the police and the police said they’ll send twelve policemen to patrol the area to keep up safe. So that just shows to me the commitment of the police force, when all’s said and done, that we’re all safe.
(You can find Asad on Twitter)
This has been the hardest Ramadan of my life.
And it hasn’t been because it’s been hot, but it has. And it hasn’t been because it’s been long days, and of course they have been.
It has been, emotionally, the most draining Ramadan I can recall.
There’s been times where it’s just felt like endless grief, sorrow and pain. There’s something about being hot and hungry and tired and thirsty, that makes you feel so much more vulnerable to all those terrible emotions.
But the high points for me this Ramadan, have been events like this and events I’ve been to at the inclusive mosque. Events which people from all backgrounds – any faith and any demographic come together in a show of solidarity and joy. Events like this have kept me buoyed this year.
I could think of nothing more joyful than a bunch of people, who have no relationships to each other, but just kind of have some shared values, coming together and having dinner in Ramadan on a Saturday night on a rainbow flag.
I love this event and I love the people who have been a part of the organizing committee.
(You can find Masuma on Twitter)
I want to share three different stories from this Ramadan and actually, despite all of the tragedies, I think this has been one of the best Ramadans for me.
The one thing that really speaks to me is my favorite saying: ‘He who sleeps on a full stomach while his neighbor starves is not one of us.’ And I think, despite all the tragedies we’ve had in London, the community responded and showed that none of us will sleep on a full stomach while our neighbor starves. We all look out for each other.
The kindness of strangers has been incredible. The day after the attacks at the Finsbury Park mosque, I went to the vigil and I went to pray at the mosque. As I was walking to the tube station, a random woman stops me and sees I’m in my prayer cap and coming out of the mosque. She walks towards me and opens up her wallet, gives me some cash and says: ‘This is just so I can do my bit. Go and spend it on Iftar with your friends at the mosque.’
So the kindness of strangers is such a beautiful thing. That’s when I realized, there’s such humanity and love out there. That’s really the message of not just Islam, but how London behaves.
The second thing is the solidarity. A few of my non-Muslim friends came to the vigil. But not just to the vigil, they came inside the mosque for prayer time and prayed side-by-side with me – just to show their solidarity and their love.
One other thing – one of my best friends, who actually is another gay muslim who came out to his mom last year. His story is really touching. After his mom started crying and everything, his mom turned around and said: ‘You know what, a son may leave his mother, but a mother will never leave her child.’