History was made at the Walt Disney Concert Hall last week. The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, otherwise known as the GMCLA performed along with representatives from many faiths. The second act was opened by Grammy award winner, Ani Zonneveld, the president of the Muslims for Progressive Values organization, singing the Islamic call to prayer.
This is significant for many reasons. In many Muslim majority countries, homosexuality is deemed illegal. In these nations, the gay community is forced to either leave the country, or hide the fact they are gay to avoid harsh laws and persecution. This recent collaboration between MPV and the GMCLA is a great step forward for reform and tolerance. Within Islam, as with other religions, there is often a struggle between their own liberal and conservative members – think about the Christian left and right.
Zonneveld explained how her involvement in the event came about:
“It was in December of 2016 when GMCLA’s music director, Dr. Joe Nadeau, asked MPV to join as a community partner and it wasn’t until 10 days ago that he asked me to do the azan. I got teary-eyed. The love and support we received back from GMCLA was/is healing. And all of us singing together was transformative,”
There were many faiths present at the annual concert and the interfaith atmosphere created a warmth and solidarity. This event and others like it aim to reduce both anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-gay sentiment within society. MVP formed 10 years ago in 2007 with the aim of shattering stereotypes.
On Twitter the MPV often suffer anti-Muslim bigotry:
There is no such thing as a pro LGBT Muslim group. All they're doing is taking money on false promises. They kill gays, plain & simple!
— ?? only in America (@Cooey1967) July 12, 2017
The Muslims with Progressive Values responded with style:
By all means stay ignorant. https://t.co/xpo789p7S3
— MPV (@mpvusa) July 12, 2017
Then this Tweet from Volkan Topalli said it all:
— Volkan Topalli (@VolkanTopalli) July 13, 2017
The Muslim community is changing and it is not a monolith.
This is the whole problem – both radical Islam and anti-Muslim bigots believe that all Muslims believe the same thing – that all Muslims are fundamentalists. When groups like MPV come together with the gay community at events like this concert in LA last week, they are making it clear that they are inclusive and not fundamentalists.
This kind of unity should be encouraged, the issues facing the Muslim and gay communities are more complex than sweeping statements about ‘all Muslims’ or sweeping religious rules about ‘all gay people.’
This is a great step forward.
Watch the call to prayer:
Featured image via YouTube.