A New Role Model

This is the title of an email I just received from Dan S. I reproduce it below:

"Hi Parvez: I felt that I had to email you and let you know that I think you are one of the bravest role models that the gay community could ever have. I first saw your name when I read your essay in Michael Luongo's book "Gay Travels in the Muslim World". I was so impressed that I checked the web for other samples of your writing. It was then that I discovered your production of "A Jihad For Love".

I live in New York City so I went to the IFC on Wednesday, May 28. Of course, I was completely amazed at what you were able to capture on film. Watching it made me feel like I was taking a journey to meet my gay brothers and sisters in a part of the world that I otherwise would never have understood. The people you interviewed were amazing - despite all the obstacles life put in their way, they were determined to love who they wanted to love and still maintain a link to their spiritual lives.

I have to admit that I was a bit intimidated to approach you after seeing the film. I felt a bit shy and didn't really know what to say in the moment. However, after thinking about what I had seen I knew that I had to reach out to you and just say "thank you" for being so cour
ageous. If only there were more people such as yourself in the world - how much better life would be!!!

All My Best To You, Dan"

And here is another email:

"I regret that adjectives like Christian and Muslim and Jew must define and exclude. I regret that those who call themselves by one name or another need to establish their religion in their own minds by Rigid Rules rather than the costly submission of love. I would not call Rigid Rules Law or Torah out of respect for a true love of Torah. Rules are a convenient substitute for thought and are a dangerous barrier to honesty in some situations. Culture is fearful of touch, anxious for control, and desiring power, and so individuals and cultures often confuse running from fear or desire for power and control with truth.

If - and it is a big 'if' - the religious opponents of committed love between same-gendered partners could phrase their opposition from the experience of their own love of God and not from their own fear whether of God or of themselves, then they might see that they need not fear, for their God in love - they would know - and they would know that God is capable of bringing to joy people other than themselves and their own imagined 'in-group'.

Persevere and continue your good work. I have kept my few readers informed of your progress on my blog.
Bob MacDonald"


Dear Parvez,
I just wanted to congratulate you again and thank you for making "A
Jihad for Love".
Film truly has the power to touch people's hearts, open their minds
and start useful dialogs. I have always believed this as I think most people are strongly effected by visional imagery and the emotions that are played out on the human face.
Your work reaffirms this belief in me and I think the film will have
an important, lasting effect for years to come. Not only for the queer community but also for the Muslim communityand for the non-Muslim community to have a greater understanding ofthe complexities (and beauty) of Islam.
Thank you!

Please keep looking out for my upcoming feature on The Huffington Post.

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