LGBT Activism: Faisal has represented Al-Fatiha on a number of advisory boards. From
1998-2000 he was the youngest member of the National Religious Leadership
Roundtable (NRLR), an interfaith network of more than fifty lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender faith-leaders in the United States. During his
tenure as volunteer director of Al-Fatiha, Faisal served on the national
advisory boards of: the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion
and Ministry at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, PFLAG National’s
Family of Color Network and the Fellowship for Reconciliation’s LGBT
Currently, Faisal is a
member of the national advisory committee of the LGBT Program at Human Rights
Watch (HRW) and a former advisory board member of Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV).
Media Coverage: Faisal’s work with Al-Fatiha has been featured in newspapers and magazines
around the world, including the New York Times, Washington Post,
San Francisco Chronicle, Al-Hayat, Atlanta
Journal Constitution, and the Miami Herald. He has also
appeared on BBC News and BBC Radio. Faisal has written
numerous articles and opinion/editorials that have appeared in gay and lesbian
newspapers including the Washington Blade the New York Blade,
and the Southern Voice. Faisal was one of the first LGBT
leaders to speak out against the US-led war in Afghanistan and the US-led invasion of Iraq.
His protests against the rising Islamophobia and the assault on civil liberties
and civil rights in the US
have led conservative elements within the gay community to call for his
deportation to Guantanamo
while some conservative gay journalists have called him “weak” and “cowardly,”
for his opposition to the so-called “war on terror.”
Awards & Recognitions: Faisal has received numerous recognitions and awards for his activism on behalf
of queer Muslims.
- Advocate magazine selected him as an "Innovator" in 2001
- Genre magazine honored him as a "Founding Father" in 2002
- Utne Reader chose him as one of 30 "Young Visionaries Under 30"
In addition to these honors, Faisal has received awards including:
In April 2005 the Equality Forum recognized Faisal as one of “40 Heroes” who
have "made a defining difference in LGBT civil rights over the last forty
years." In June 2008 Faisal received an award from Pride Toronto
for his "outstanding contribution in the area of spirituality that
positively impacts LGBT communities." And in October 2010 Faisal received a "Community Honor" award from the Unity Fellowship Church of Atlanta for his "tireless justice seeking efforts on behalf of LGBTQI individuals, and all marginalized people.".
- "Faith in Action" award by the Metropolitan Community Church of New York City (2003)
- "Legion of Honor" award by American University's LGBT and Ally Resource Center (2003)
* speaker * writer * organizer * activist *
Faisal Alam is
queer-identified Muslim activist of Pakistani descent. Faisal began the
first internet-based email discussion group (listserv) for LGBT Muslims in
November of 1997 (when he was 19 years old) which marked the first time that
LGBT Muslims could discuss issues of common concern in a safe
environment. This listserv eventually led to the First International
Retreat for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Muslims, which (at the time)
was believed to be the first known gathering of queer Muslims. Al-Fatiha
(which means “The Beginning” or “The Opening”) was the theme of the retreat and
eventually became the name of the organization founded to support Muslims who
were struggling to reconcile their faith and their sexual orientation or gender
Since its inception in 1998, Al-Fatiha has grown to include eight
chapters in the United States
with another seven sister-organizations in three countries (the United Kingdom,
Al-Fatiha has 800 members in the United States.
Since its formation, the organization has provided resources, counseling
services and information to more than 3,000 people around the world.
Al-Fatiha’s mission is to provide support and to empower to LGBTIQ Muslims who
are trying to reconcile their sexual orientation or gender identity with their
religion (Islam). In a post-9/11 world, Al-Fatiha continues to advocate
on behalf of the LGBTIQ Muslim community in immigration, refugee, and asylum
cases, and in the HIV/AIDS and human rights movements. As an
all-volunteer organization Al-Fatiha serves as a crucial resource for those
struggling with questions of sexuality, gender identity, and faith.
As the founder and former volunteer director of Al-Fatiha (1998-2005), Faisal
has traveled across the United States and around the world (including London,
Cape Town, New Delhi, Karachi and Bangkok) to meet with LGBTIQ Muslims and
their allies to build a community leading to a global movement for liberation
and equality for Muslim sexual and gender minorities.
Faisal’s presentation “Hidden Voices: The Lives
of LGBT Muslims” has been featured at more than 100 universities and
colleges. He has spoken and presented at numerous
events across the country including LGBT interfaith services, inter-religious
LGBT panel discussions, at synagogues, churches, PFLAG meetings and other
In 2000 Faisal was one of a handful of religious leaders who spoke at the Millennium March on Washington which brought together more than 500,000 people from across the country.
Faisal has been featured as a
plenary and keynote speaker at regional and national conferences including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Creating Change
conference (2001 and 2010), Amnesty
International’s Mid-Atlantic & Mid-West regional conferences (2001), University of California's system-wide LGBT conference (2003), the Mid-West LGBT
Student’s conference (2006)
and the LGBT Western Regional College conference (held at UC Santa Barbara in
In August 2011, Faisal had the honor of being invited to and attending President Obama's annual White House iftar dinner (breaking of the fast during Ramadan).
Community Activism: Faisal has been active in numerous community-based organizations in Boston, MA, Washington DC, and Atlanta, GA including: MASALA (Massachusetts South Asian Lesbian & Gay Association), AQUA DC (Asian Queers United in Action), Khush DC (an LGBT South Asian group), OUTFront DC (the LGBT program of Amnesty International, USA) and Trikone Atlanta (an LGBT South Asian group).
Social Justice Work: In addition to his LGBT faith-based activism, Faisal has championed other social justice concerns including human rights, immigration & asylum rights, HIV/AIDS education and advocacy, public health, reproductive health and reproductive justice. His past employers have included the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Minority AIDS Council, and the Association of Minority Health Professions Schools. Faisal currently resides in Atlanta, GA where he continues to advocate for peace, equality and justice.