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Dear MASGD community,
We know you have been waiting for an update from us the 2017 LGBT Muslim Retreat. As you know, we committed to hold the 2017 Retreat on the West Coast. However, unfortunately, despite all of our efforts, we were not able to secure a West Coast venue for this year.
Fear not! We have secured a venue outside Philadelphia, PA. We will hold this year’s Retreat there the weekend of October 13-15, 2017.
For the sake of transparency and accountability to our community, we want to explain why we weren't able to secure a West Coast venue. We also want to express and renew our commitment to holding the 2018 Retreat on the West Coast.
Due to a number of factors, such as rotations and changes in MASGD board members and the political climate, the Retreat coordinators could not research possible West Coast venues last year.
We researched venues in January and February and found an available space that seemed ideal. However, as we were confirming the venue and securing a contract, the venue informed us that it was going out of business and had to cancel all upcoming retreats.
We researched backup options immediately and found a venue that could work and which was available in 2017.
However, in consultation with community members, we concluded we have a values conflict with the venue that meant that we could not move forward with them:
The backup venue was a former Catholic "mission." Historically, these missions were used to coerce and convert indigenous Native American communities in California and the southwest.
We consulted several Latinx and Native American community members and allies to hear what they thought of us having a retreat at a former "mission." Their consensus was that the space is certainly problematic, but opinions differed on whether that meant we should not use the venue. For those who felt we should not use the space, their position was very clear and strong.
MASGD’s values include solidarity. Our values statement says: “We recognize that, as a U.S.-based organization comprised of many communities and movements, both privilege and responsibility undergird our work. We stand in solidarity with both historical and contemporary struggles for justice, while maintaining respect for their autonomy.”
After much discussion by MASGD steering committee members and the Retreat coordinators, we made the difficult decision to not move forward with this venue. That left us without West Coast options for 2017.
We were in luck to learn that the venue we have used in the past (outside Philadelphia, PA) had availability in October. We made the decision to go there.
Why did this happen?
Unfortunately, many retreat centers are booked 1-3 years in advance and we waited too long to research and secure a venue.
Our requirements further narrow the options. We need a space that can host ~100 people, that is accessible, that is not exorbitantly expensive, and that can extend a genuine welcome to people who are both LGBTQ and Muslim.
Quite a few West Coast retreat venues are located in former Christian missions.
Will there be a future retreat on the West Coast?
Yes! MASGD is committed to bringing the LGBT Muslim Retreat, a vital space for our community, to the West Coast.
We are researching venues for 2018 and hope to secure an appropriate, safe, accessible space as soon as possible.
As soon as a venue is secured, we will announce dates for the 2018 Retreat.
We are disappointed by the circumstances that we found ourselves in, and we apologize to you for making an announcement about coming to the West Coast before a venue was secured.
We are happy to announce that the 2017 LGBT Muslim Retreat will be held October 13-16, 2017, at a venue outside of Philadelphia, PA.
We anticipate registration will begin May 8, 2017, and scholarship applications will be announced by June 5, 2017.
Note: We recognize that many people on the West Coast were looking forward to and planning on coming to a Retreat near them, therefore we will prioritize scholarships for West Coast participants.
With love and gratitude,
MASGD Steering Committee:
Faisal A. - Chair