Mirrors were tucked behind embroidered drapes, prayer rugs spread over the carpet and fashion magazines replaced by copies of the Koran in preparation for breaking the fast at dusk on a quiet day near the end of Ramadan. In a quiet alley in the ancient Javanese city of Yogyakarta, Mariyani, a 50-year-old transgender hairdresser, has turned part of her salon into an Islamic school.
It’s a place where lesbian, gay and transgender Muslims — banned from Islamic schools and unwelcomed at mosques — can safely pray and discuss their religion. “Tonight we are breaking the fast and praying with 90 orphans and poor women from a nearby village.
It’s my 50th birthday today and I want to thank God for giving me this time on earth. I will be called by God in the not too distant future, so I have to do the right thing,” says Mariyani.
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