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December 8, 2006
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Volume 34
Issue 49
 
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Tour De Life by Beau Burriola
The Gay-Muslim grudge
"Can you believe it?" Jamie screamed into the phone, outraged at the news that a few Muslim imams were kicked off a US Airways flight after they were seen praying together. "They kicked them off the flight for praying!" Experience the "magic of Christmas" without the headaches

I couldn't care less, but I listened politely to her outrage. Like a lot of gay folks, unfair treatment of American Muslims has been pretty far from my queer little life and, like most injustices done to Muslim Americans, I haven't been in a hurry to get too excited about it.

Oh, sure I consider myself to be a pretty "rights-for-all" kind of guy who doesn't care one bit who prays where to whom, but I haven't been able to muster up much desire to defend American-Muslims from the ignorance of non-Muslim America. It[s part of the gay "Muslim grudge" I hold against Islam: since Islam seems hostile to me as much as any gay folk, I don't know that I should go too far out of my way to defend Muslim-Americans from ignorance when I believe they are pretty ignorant of us. After all, how often have we read in The Advocate that this or that Islamic country has executed another gay person - some as young as sixteen - just for being gay? It's totally barbaric. So, like the kid on the playground who wants to defend the snotty-nosed Know It All being beat up by the big bully, I just sit back and watch it. In some ways, I might even enjoy it.

Still, I can't shake the feeling that gay people should be outraged; not because we agree fundamentally with Islam, but because it helps the gay cause in the long run in spite of our disagreements. When someone like Frank Meyer, a traveler from San Diego, marches up to praying and protesting Muslims at SeaTac International Airport and screams, "We're in a war, sir. [W]e're in a war against terrorism. Do you have any concept of that?" - for all the world and the Seattle Times to hear, I am filled with a familiar disgust of the same type of ignorance that gay people have been facing for eternity. I am reminded of the blind ideological garbage vomited at me by countless Southern Baptists, repeating catch phrases they picked up from the pulpit or bar; empty words without substance or understanding delivered with unjustified hatred.

Much as I might not want to say it sometimes, ignorance is ignorance, and the mistreatment of Muslim-Americans has more in common with the mistreatment of gay folks than either side would like to admit. If we gay folks are going to trumpet and demand equal protection and link our cause with civil rights, then we must - and without exception - demand the same protection from ignorance for everyone else, regardless of how much we disagree with them, or how much they may hurt us.

I'm going to start changing my gay "Muslim grudge" because I believe the call for equality is universal. It extends over religions, races, genders, and orientations; and because of that, it is a much more resounding call for understanding than any individual cause alone.

At the end of the day, the unequal treatment of anyone damages our own fight for equality. Even if Islam never accepts gay people, and though we may forever read about executions of gay people in the pages of our newspapers, it is in our best interest to demand equality for everyone if we are going to be credible in our fight.

& even those we have a grudge against.

"When you're silent, it's as good as lying." - Rosie O'Donnell

Beau Burriola is a local writer trying to stick to the simple definition of equality in a complicated, emotional world. E-mail him at: beaubrent@gmail.com
visit Beau at www.beaubrent.com

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