|A Brief History of Assal
New York Arab and Iranian Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Women's Group
In April 1997, twelve lesbian and bisexual women of Arab and Iranian descent and their partners attended a meeting in New York City. The purpose of the meeting was to bring together women who shared some commonalties and to potentially start a group.
It became apparent that the women wanted to form bonds of friendship, rather than immediately build an organization with a formal structure, mission and agenda. Many voiced the need to build and nurture personal ties to each other and become less isolated as Arab and Iranian lesbians and bisexuals.
Furthermore the general feeling was that this step is essential before venturing into community activism in the gay community and the Arab- and Iranian-American communities as women whose identity is lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender AND Arab or Iranian.
Friends and allies were welcome and occasionally Arab sisters from beyond the New York City and New Jersey area joined our gatherings. The number of women contacted grew to over 40, all of whom traced part or all of their cultural/ethnic/racial identity to countries including Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, and Sudan.