Agency Description and Mission:
The GLBT Association of Middle Eastern Americans (Al GAMEA) is a human services organization established for support, socialization, education and awareness in the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgender “GLBT” Middle Eastern Community. Al GAMEA is a minority owned and operated tax exempt organization under section 501 (C) (3) of the IRS tax code.
In delivering services which further our mission and vision, we will model the following core values and encourage their integration into the lives of those we serve.
Al GAMEA values:
- Respect for self and others;
- Self reliance and independence in the pursuit of individual goals;
- Teamwork and interdependence in the pursuit of a better community;
- Generosity with time and talents;
- Safety and peaceful resolution of conflict;
- Fiscal responsibility and accountability;
- Tolerance and inclusiveness;
- Education and learning as a lifelong process
Al GAMEA was started by a group of friends who felt that the GLBT Arab/Middle Eastern community was overlooked and underrepresented. They had spent their entire lives feeling isolated and alone. They could participate in gay pride events, but they never really fit in. They were always the outsider and people didn’t understand their culture and sometimes their language.
They felt it was next to impossible to merge their two identities which were so much of who they are. There was no way the two could be compartmentalized, and the group set out to create a change in both the Arab/Middle Eastern community and the GLBT community, so that other GLBT Middle Eastern people wouldn’t have to feel as isolated as they had been. This was the foundation on which Al GAMEA was created. Al GAMEA, which stands for the GLBT Association of Middle Eastern Americans also translates into “the gathering” in Arabic. The group specifically chose to use the words “Middle Eastern” instead of Arab and Chaldean because they wanted to make sure that everyone would feel welcome. They wanted to celebrate all of the cultures of the Arab world and those that surround it like Persia, Turkey and others.
The goals of Al GAMEA have always been simple. To provide support and opportunities for interaction for all people of Middle Eastern descent and their friends. To be visible, and let other Middle Eastern people know that they are not alone. There are other GLBT people who understand the difficulties that they are facing in coming out in their families and religious communities. Many of the countries in the Middle East have very conservative religious cultures. Religion plays a very prominent role in the daily life of many, and GLBT people are widely persecuted as a result. Mainstream GLBT organizations are simply ill equipped to address the specific issues related to these difficulties. These are the people that Al GAMEA is reaching out to. These are the people for whom Al GAMEA has become a lifeline, and we’re continuing to make an impact in this community.