A Beautiful Email

This is a very erudite deconstruction and analysis of the film from a Muslim audience member I know- with superb intellect. I expected him to have a profound response and I am not surprised that he sees some of the things I tried hard to achieve in this film. I consider this a uniquely Muslim response to a very Muslim film

Dear Parvez,

I didn't get a chance to talk with you much after themovie, so I want to tell you some of my thoughts (Ihope you will indulge me and read them!) before I lost them all.

I am very glad that thereis a film like this out there on this subject. For people who are curious about Islam, for people curious about LGBT people in Islam, and for people who want to enjoy a beautiful movie. I loved it.

I found it very touching, a very personal exploration for the different subjects of what it means to them to be Muslim and gay and how they reconcile the two (or for one - don't; it was sad to see her wish to be punished because she is so conflicted).

As I think I told you, I especially enjoyed the visual comments on political issues related to the subject, like how you raised an issue for lesbian Muslims ofthe secondary status that woman have in contemporary Islam through a variety of scenes, like the one wheremen insist they must be given a right of way through an area of a mosque that is reserved for women, and the sign at a mosque that prohibits women entry through the front door. These are just two of the many other commentaries I found in your film which were not made explicit, but filmically delivered.

I do wonder whether people who don't have even a basic understanding of Islam and the issues facing Muslims today would "get it." Would they understand that these are regional traditions not required by Islam? The same with the lesbian from an African country that practices FGM (Christians in those countries do it to- and Muslims from other areas don't). She does say"it's all nonsense," about those who say it is Islamic, but it's not an exposition or anything.

I am
tired of meeting non-Muslims who think it is required by Islam. To someone who doesn't know this, it couldbe confused, but then again, I know, no one in themovie says of any of the practices depicted, "This is Islam" either.

I can only imagine the amount of work it took to findenough people who were devout and willing to be filmed, and I think you did a great job of trying to have gender balance. It's not a 1:1 ratio, but youhave a fair balance. I think it's great two of thefive women in the film chose to show their faces.Even better that they participated in the panel at the
film's premiere in Turkey (even more interesting because of the subject of faith within the one majority Muslim country that is a secular state).

I really like that the film showed a great part of the diversity within Islam without being an apology for Islam (and thank you for including parts of the sermon from the Turkish imam on the importance of love as the basis for all human relationships). Yet I do wish it had been more diverse (a southeast Asian country: Indonesia? and a majority Muslim Sub-Saharan African country: Mali or somewhere around there? Maybe Muslims from Guyana? Maybe I would have been satisfied with a slide at the beginning that showed a map of the Muslim world, members of the IOC?). I realize that as hard as it was to get the people you did get, doing more would have been that much harder.

Anyway, I don't think I realized some of the pain I carry around until I saw (and was moved to tears at some points) the real pain of the people you filmed. Pain from their inner struggles, but also pain that results from the persecutions of LGBT folk in different countries and the real fear that they live with -- and the consequences to their families.

I think your film will start (has started! must start!) a dialogue within Islamic communities and families about how we should be treating our brothers and sisters (and hopefully every part of Creation).

And for Muslims it has some important reminders: as the quote from the Qur'an carved into a mosque's walls that the two lesbians read warns, there are hypocrites and falsely pious people whose outward signs of piety cannot obscure their lack of Islamic ethics in how
they treat their fellow human beings, and the Turkish Imam and Muhsin Hendricks talking about loving God and stress the compassion and mercy of God.

ANYWAY -- that was a bit longer than I originally intended. Thank you again for making this movie. I would definitely recommend it to all my friends and family. And I have. :) I hope to see you soon. Let
me know in what way I can volunteer and help you with this project.

Love/Peace, K

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