Trigger warning: this blog discusses homosexuality in the Muslim Community
Those teenage years
There’s something decidedly ironic about growing up thinking your teenage years would be like Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging, only to realise in the middle of Year 11 that’s its more 4 Lions meets The Hunger Games. At least, that was what it felt like to a young gay brown kid going to an Islamic High School. For the most part I had fun, joking with the other boys in the small school that doubled as a Mosque but every once in a while, a familiar wave of shame would pass over me, reminding me that no matter how hard I tried; regardless of how many gay jokes I let fly over my head in the hopes that I myself could simultaneously fly under the radar; or how many times I’d sit and listen to the sermons given every Friday on how to be the utmost best Muslim you could be; and no matter how flawless my Arabic was, that all of that would be easily wiped away if even one person knew the truth.
Sometimes looking back on those years, I can’t help but smile at the realisation that what felt like my entire world essentially amounted to about 30 kids in what used to be a 2-story flower shop, most of whom still haven’t left my hometown.
I wish I could say that all my problems were solved when I came out to my peers in college. Unfortunately, just because you decide that you’re ready to tell people who you are, doesn’t mean everyone else is. Although, I finally had a circle of friends who loved me unconditionally and a confidence that, to me, felt like it could move mountains, I suddenly found myself a target of the hate that I had feared so much in High School. From shoves in the hallway, to Urdu slurs thrown over the unsuspecting ears of white teachers. Suddenly, the community that had raised me and loved me, now saw me as nothing more than just another sinner. I’d gone from having a shameful secret in the Asian Muslim community, to being the shameful secret in the Asian Muslim community.
My biggest support
It was around this time that my biggest support inside my family made itself known. I will never forget the day my sister came out to me in a dessert place next to the cinema. Something about seeing another gay brown person who was older than me and successful and had seemingly made it out of this town was amazingly empowering, and while neither of us were out to our parents, it served as a reminder that things would get better.
it truly does get better, especially once you find the people that love you for you.
Moving to Cardiff at the start of my degree, I was filled with equal parts dread and excitement. For the first time I didn’t have to worry about anyone outing me. I mean, how could they? There was no way anything could get back to my parents or family members. As i watched my dad’s car drive away from the accommodation, the tight band I’d placed around how I acted around family loosened and for the first time I truly felt like I could be unapologetically myself without fear of discovery.
And now I sit here, having been at this Uni for a number of years , confident in my identity as a gay, genderfluid Asian Muslim witch, with a circle of friends who support me unconditionally. and
If there’s any takeaway that I can bring from the countless struggles and cases of homophobia, racism, transphobia and islamophobia I’ve been through; it’s that it truly does get better, especially once you find the people that love you for you.
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