Queer Muslims claim their space in the East Bay

“Choose discomfort over resentment” reads the tattoo on Shenaaz Janmohamed’s right arm. The Oakland-based psychotherapist, who has Muslim South Asian origins, defines herself as a “queer femme mama.” She became a mother two years ago, and said that change gave her “clarity” to devote her time to healing her community: queer Muslims. Janmohamed is a minority within a minority. She identifies as a Shia queer, and is in a relationship with a genderqueer partner (a person who identifies with neither,…

Two Oakland women find healing through abortion activism—on opposite sides

On a sunny January morning, two Oakland women took up banners and headed to San Francisco to participate in a demonstration. Both had ended a pregnancy and both have since found healing in activism. But a few blocks separated the two. One was part of the “14th Annual Walk for Life West Coast,” and the second was countering that walk at the “Rally for Reproductive Justice.” At the intersection of 7th and Market streets, a modest crowd of 50 people…

With Love Never Fails, Vanessa Russell reaches out to sex trafficking survivors

According to the State of California Department of Justice, human trafficking is the world’s fastest-growing criminal enterprise, bringing in $32 billion dollars a year globally. Vanessa Russell founded Love Never Fails in 2011 to fight human trafficking in the Bay Area. She was inspired to start the organization after she found out that a student of hers was being sex-trafficked throughout California.