They are gay. They are Muslim. They are proud.

Every year, Pride serves as an opportunity to celebrate inclusivity, tolerance, and acceptance in the LGBTQ community.

Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images.

For queer Muslims, Pride month is all the more special.

Since traditionalist views of Islam consider homosexuality a sin, it's a common myth that you can't be both queer and Muslim. But every year, tons of practicing Muslims who identify as queer come out and engage in self-affirmation of their complex, intersecting identities.


If there's one thing that Pride month's proved so far, it's that being LGBTQ and Muslim are not mutually exclusive.

Now more than ever, Muslim-American citizens are rallying together to support the LGBTQ people within their community.

A recent study revealed that 51% of Muslim-Americans support marriage equality, according to the May 2018 Public Religion Research Institute study. This is a huge leap from four years ago, when that same percentage were opposed. To put numbers into comparison, according to the study's findings, marriage equality is opposed by 58% of white evangelical Christians and 53% of Mormons.

Queer Islamic scholars and imams have also risen to prominence. Daaiyee Abdullah, based in Washington, D.C., is one of the eight openly gay imams in the world. He is known to offer religious services to Muslim LGBTQ members who have been turned away or cast out from the community.

LGBTQ Muslim representation in entertainment is on the rise, with Tan France's prominent role in "Queer Eye," "The Bold Type's" lesbian character Adena El Amin (played by Nikohl Boosheri), and Mahershala Ali's starring role in "Moonlight."

Plus, several prominent non-queer Muslims that have come forward in support for LGBTQ rights. Reza Aslan, an Iranian-American public intellectual, and comedian Hasan Minhaj penned an open letter urging Muslim-Americans to stand against anti-gay bigotry and support marriage equality. Meanwhile, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, our country's first Somali-American legislator, marched in her local Pride parade.

Despite this outpouring of visibility, queer Muslims face discrimination at every turn.

Laws in many Muslim-majority countries are influenced by these religiously driven homophobic beliefs. Same-gender marriage is often not only illegal, but being queer can warrant prison time or even death. These threats keep many Muslims in the closet.

In the U.S., with the sweeping tide of Islamophobia, the "not-a-Muslim-ban" Muslim ban, and an administration adamant on rolling back LGBTQ rights, queer Muslims' safety is constantly at risk.

These realities are daunting. But the swell of support during Pride of religious tolerance and LGBTQ acceptance proves that progress is being made.

If all people can set aside differences and see each other as fully human, the future will be bright.

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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.