An Asian lesbian has spoken of her experiences about hiding her sexuality from her family.
“I know this sounds like a complete paradox. But I am a lesbian. And I am a Muslim. A practising Muslim,” she says.
Jay, as she wanted to be referred to said she rarely talks of her feelings to anyone and growing-up she felt ostracised. But at university she was able to be a little more open about her sexuality.
“I can’t talk about this to anyone apart from my close friends. I would never dare to admit this to my family.
“At school, all the Asian girls had secret boyfriends, and would sneak around. I knew from an early age that I was different as I was attracted to girls.
“My parents were always worried about finding me with a boyfriend. That was considered the ultimate ‘bezti”.
“I am still at university, and here I am able to explore my sexuality more freely. And by that, I don’t mean physically. I have joined the LGBT society and have met so many like minded people.”
Traditionally homosexual acts in most Muslim countries are a punishable crime and a sin. Despite this, same-sex sexual intercourse is legal in five Muslim-majority nations.
Home life for Jay is completely different though and she says she would not dream of letting her family know about her sexuality.
“Closer to home, people are so judgemental. Asian society is judgemental. My family would disown me if they found out. Or they would force me into an arranged marriage in Pakistan.
“The irony is, my dad drinks at home. He would never be seen in public drinking. I have heard my mum arguing with him late at night about the fact that he watches adult channels.
“But when the issue of gay people comes up, well, let’s just say acceptance is a word that is simply not used in our community. My parents, like many others, think it is a sin. And that the only cure for it is marriage.”
Despite these concerns she feels that there are others in her community who hide their true feelings for fear of retaliation.
“Recently, a family friend discovered their son was gay. Well, they found gay porn on his phone.
“They concluded that he had been possessed by a jinn. That was their only explanation.
“They took him to this pir who performed an exorcism on him.
“My only hope of a normal life is if I move out of home once I graduate, assuming I can find a decent job.
“I am a Lesbian, I was born that way. But at the same time, I pray five times a day. I fast in Ramadan. I enjoy attending Islamic talks at uni.”
Jay though has no reservations about her life despite the concerns some Muslims might have.
“Islam is a peaceful religion. Our prophet (pbuh) never excluded anyone from participating in the religious life of the mosque.
“All I want is for my family to accept me the way I am so I can stop living this lie.”