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‘This closet is suffocating’, the life story of a young gay Muslim in Pakistan

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  1. It continues to break my heart and I hate that while we celebrate here over more and more equality and acceptance, eslewhere this is far from the truth. Let alone that I often fear that other nations witness our progress and adapt ever harsher legislation preventing the situation to move forward there. See also Uganda, Cameroon and Russia for example.

    For the writer: do know we care. Yes, we celebrate our lives where we can but we don’t forget our queer friends around the world and I hope all of us will help where we can to also move the situation in Pakistan and elsewhere forward.

    Consider connecting with I’m From Driftwood (not sure if I can link but google will do the trick). Have your story documented there, can be anonymous, make it visible.

  2. You can’t help but feel some guilt reading this. This is why homophobia is universally bad wherever it is. Even if you have equal rights, you feel guilty that others don’t. And you’ve done nothing wrong to be subjected to those guilty feelings.

    Things won’t be like this forever in muslim countries. But it’s impossible to say when it will change. One thing this guy perhaps doesn’t realise is that gay life in “London, San Francisco and Berlin” is actually a very lonely one for many people still. Gay men have serious mental health problems everywhere – legal discrimination might now be gone, but changing society itself takes far longer.

    Anyway, the fact we do have equality – it would be waste not to live life as you want.

  3. Colin (London) 31 Jul 2013, 7:53pm

    My heart goes out to the writer. Clearly lonely and lost.

    We need more of a lead from the UN. It needs to talk about society. That it can be diverse and better by being inclusive. By being comfortable in your own skin you are happy and give more to your community in every way.

    We need EDUCATION about gayness. 6% of the world are gay (UN) thats about 420,000,000. Equivalent to the whole of Europe, 1.5 times USA and 6.6 times the UK.

    I am in no way similar to the writer but my early years were very lonely coming out at 28. I have an insight to your world.

    Hold on young one things can change. Be brave.

  4. Colin (London) 31 Jul 2013, 7:55pm

    Equivalent to the whole of Europe, OR 1.5 times USA OR 6.6 times the UK.

    (sorry)

  5. Hi Saaadiiii,

    Thank you for being so brave as to tell your story.

    I am sure that you will have given comfort to others in your situation.

    I’m so sorry that you feel so hopeless and isolated, and that your life offers you so few choices.

    I hope that somehow, impossible as it seems, you are able to make a truly happy life for yourself. I fear that for you it may have to be outside Pakistan.

    But hopefully, one day, young LGBT Pakistanis like yourself will not have to aspire exile to live truly fulfilled lives.

  6. Commander Thor 31 Jul 2013, 8:51pm

    I grew up in a community with a majority of adherents to the religion of peace too. I say get the fcuk out of there as soon as you can. That’s the only way for it to get better for the individual.

    Unfortunately, many people in that situation don’t realise that there are plenty of countries out there where you can be considered a productive and valuable member of society, and that will gladly have you.

    I wonder if it would be possible to help people escape in that way. Maybe an international organisation that helps people acquire the skills and knowledge that can help them get out. For example, many south american countries are a hell of a lot better than countries with majority of adherents to the religion of peace.

  7. This is a similar story to many gay muslims in England, especially those that live in muslim ghettos. They may have legal protections, but that seems so far removed from the reality when you are faced with the threat of extreme violence, banishment, “honour killing” in an insular monoculture. Actually of the very moderate muslim or ex muslim friends/acquaintances I’ve known, all have been rejected by their family/community and not all have been gay. I really hope this man manages to get asylum somewhere where he has a chance to escape the oppression of religion.

  8. I am a gay man living in Pakistan and I find this story kind of exaggerated. It’s not this bad here.
    I agree Pakistan isn’t accepting of the gay culture but then you have to deal with what you get. Don’t walk on the streets with a pride flag and don’t just talk about being gay and boys all the time. If you hate it so much then move to some other place that’s the best option for him.
    The society here is becoming more accepting especially in the bigger cities
    I have no Idea why this writer is trying to paint the lives of all gay men living in Pakistan in such a dark way.

    1. It may be his experience Sammad, it can be compared to many older gay people’s lived experience in the West. Only yesterday (2013 ) we heard the present day pope dare mention the fact that we are humans like everyone else, except we are not allowed to have sex. I live in a reasonably liberal community yet still have to endure hearing paedophilia being equated with being gay. Times are a changing but its slower than I would want.

    2. Commander Thor 1 Aug 2013, 6:55am

      Shut up and go sit at the back of the bus. And use the coloured fountain.

      Misquotation alert: This post contains irony, making a comparison to the oppression of non-white people in the US in the past. I do not condone racism, nor homophobia.

      1. What’s your point ?

        1. Commander Thor 1 Aug 2013, 9:53am

          Let me spell it out: when he says “Don’t walk on the streets with a pride flag and don’t just talk about being gay and boys all the time”, he actually means:
          1. Don’t hold hands with your boyfriend or show any sign of affection at all in public, unless you want to shouted at, spit at, or beaten up.

          2. Don’t even dare mention your boyfriend in any conversation whatsoever.

          3. Don’t even dare to answer “no I don’t like women that way” when asked if you have a girlfriend. In fact, you should make up some lie, like “I’m not looking at the moment” or “I haven’t found the right woman yet”.

          4. Play along whenever somebody points out some supposedly sexually attractive woman, and pretend you find her sexually arousing.

          5. Don’t expect any protection or rights for your family.

          6. Don’t expect to be treated like a human being. In fact, do expect several of your fundamental human rights (according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) to be violated.

        2. Commander Thor 1 Aug 2013, 9:54am

          (Continued)

          7. Whenever somebody says something horrible about gay people like you, such as “disease ridden animals” or “they should all die of AIDS”, and so on, you should join in, or at least look amused by the idea – don’t you dare show any sign of being upset, under pain of torture/death.

          Does this make any sense? Is it a bit clearer now? When he says “Don’t walk on the streets with a pride flag and don’t just talk about being gay and boys all the time”, he really means “accept that you are a lower lifeform to the heterosexual supremacists.”

          This is identical reasoning to the ones who said “the blacks have equal rights – separate but equal fountains”, “full rights to sit at the back of the bus”, etc.

          1. Why are you getting aggressive. You don’t need to act like a bully. Well if he lives in a Muslim country then he has to deal with it otherwise he can move to any country where he wants. No one is stopping him.

        3. Yes, i am sure he receives all the time letters from immigration authorities from the US, EU, Canada etc.. inviting him to move to those countries… I’m sure his life is a day in the park and should stop complaining.
          Do I have to state this is irony? Try to step on his shoes for a moment.

          1. You are making him like the victim. I know few gay men from Iran. No one is spoon fed. You have to work hard. He can study as move and fYI I know this guy personally. Believe me. He is enjoying his life and is literally exaggerating the whole situation. If you dot believe me. Go check his twitter he is using it for his own use. Also I live in Pakistan so I have stepped in his shoes

    3. you have to deal with what you get.

      That’s exactly what many people, including some gays, used to say (and some still do) before the 1960s in the UK. Luckily for us, there were people who were not willing to put up with the status quo, with the result that many of us are now fortunate enough to live in a more accepting society.

  9. Johnny Wessex 1 Aug 2013, 7:06am

    This is so sad. Life is too short to live like this. Can I suggest that you study/ work abroad in a more forward thinking country? Get yourself to a safe place and begin your life – you are worth it.

  10. Pakistan topped the WORLD LEADERBOARD in gay porn searches.

    The whole wide world.

    They can criminalize and demonize homosexuality all they want, but we know the truth.

    The truth prevails – love conquers hate.

    Mr. Pink

  11. I don’t know what the living situation of writer is but the article is quite exaggerated. I am a Gay and a Muslim and happy with either. I live in a repressive soceity and I have learnt to live in it with limited freedom. True. at times I can’t live the way I want to but honestly, is that even possible? It seems to me that the writer lives in a Gay Paradise which truly does not exist anywhere. I can walk on the street holding hands and hugging my lover in Lahore (second biggest city of Pakistan) without the fear of being gay bashed or boycotted. I have a very close loving circle of friends who love me deerly and accept me the way I am. I personally think Coming Out is so over rated. Not everybody feels the need to do that. I am gay but this is not who i am. There is a whole lot to me than just being gay. I don’t want to announce that to the whole world neither do I walk to the street with a rainbow sticker on my forehead. Whom I love or do in my bed is my private life.

    1. Fair enough, but the population of Pakistan is over 175m, is it not? Who’s to say your experience is more representative than the writer’s?

      Do your parents and family know you’re gay, and if not, why not? Will you one day get married to keep up appearances?

      And just out of interest, how many non-gay male friends of yours are comfortable with you being gay?

      1. Rehan my POV doesn’t has to be a representation of the soceity but it doesn’t mean that its wrong.

        Yes my family knows I’m gay. They don’t jump up and down with joy but they don’t have a problem with it either and they are proud of me nontheless. No, I shall never get married to a girl to keep up appearances.

        5 of my non-gay male friends know that I am gay and they’re supportive of it.

        And thats exactly my point. . My life doesn’t resolve around being gay or straight. I am a good son and brother and a loving friend. I have a successful job. I don’t classify people and put them in gay or non gay jars. There is much much more to me than that.

        1. Commander Thor 1 Aug 2013, 3:07pm

          “My life doesn’t resolve around being gay or straight. I am a good son and brother and a loving friend. I have a successful job. I don’t classify people and put them in gay or non gay jars. There is much much more to me than that.”

          Why do you mention this? Do you think Rehan’s life revolves around gay/straight?

          If you are happy being a criminal in your own country for no fault of your own, if you are happy for your fellow citizens to be abused by their families and communities, and think nobody should complain about such persecution of gay people around the world…then crawl back to your little rock, you selfish person. Why do you even bother posting on pinknews? Isn’t that focussing a bit too much on “the gay jar”??

          1. Again, I would appreciate if you stop being a drama queen mate. . I know nothing about Rehan to comment on him. I have the right to talk about myself and thats all I have done, whatever my experience is of being gay in this muslim country.

            I do not know of anyone who is been abused by their families. It is done by the peers in school or college if one is effiminate. And for your kind information, I work with an agency working with UN and international governments for the betterment of sexual workers, male or female, and transgenders. I have conducted seminars and workshops to let people know about the dangers of AIDS and other sexually transmitting infections. I have had close working relations with young gay guys who are trying to cope up with their sexuality and world at the same time.

          2. I do not know Rehan well enough to comment on him. Whatever I have written here is my experiences of being gay and muslim in this country.

            And for your kind information, I work with an agency and international organizations to help out sex workers, male or female, and transgenders. I have conducted seminars and workshops to let people know the dangers of AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections and the preventive measures. I have worked with young gay guys to help them come out of their shells and help understand them their sexuality and this world letting them know that it gets better. I always ask them to be a productive member of the soceity and try to change their circumstances with whatever little they have. I was a confused guy not too long ago trying to understand and questioning myself. But I did not lock myself behind closed doors and crawl back into my own little selfish rock, crying if my parents would get me married to a girl without my consent.

          3. This is a problem that exists in the west also – people are ok with you being gay as long as you don’t ACT “gay” aka feminine and conform to heteronormative standards. You are fortunate, but what about the LGBT who can’t conform? Who are naturally feminine and camp or butch if female but can’t help it? Not everybody can squeeze themselves nicely into the “straight jar” so as to not upset the status quo. Not everybody can get away with being gay because they’re lucky enough to be considered “just like any other guy” and lock themselves into a closet straight after coming out of it.

            You’d throw your camp friend under a bus to be part of the cool crowd and fit in, wouldn’t you? You’d feel ashamed walking down the street with a camp fella, but not a “straight acting” gay fella. We have that everywhere unfortunately.

            Mr. Pink

        2. Ahsan, I didn’t say it was wrong, I only meant your experience is not necessarily any more representative of the experience of gay Pakistanis than that of the writer of the article. You are the one who accused him of exaggerating.

          Your experience seems to be a very fortunate one (I would imagine, in the context of Pakistan, enviably so), and I don’t think I’d be wrong in guessing you’re from a reasonably privileged and westernised family – a category that encompasses what proportion of Pakistan’s population, would you say?

          1. You’re right Rehan, it is not the representation of the whole soceity but it is my Point of View.

            I belong to a middle class family just like many of us but yes, I am very fortunate to have a loving and understanding family. I have worked hard to be where I am now; be it financially, mentally, spirtually or sexuality wise. What the writer has shown is one side of the picture. I just want to show another side too. A side which is not in abundance but still exists.

            I’m comfortable enough in my sexuality. I don’t have to ‘come out’ to my college/school fellows so that I could discuss my guy tricks with them. Why should we have the urge to ‘come out’ to the world? I work with/for many guys who don’t come out even to themselves. I know their pain and anguish as I, and dare I say may be you too, have passed through it. I have learnt one thing. Instead of making a sad face and saying Why Me, make a brave happy face and say Let Me Be. When you’re weak, you’re never right.

          2. That may be, but it helps to have a background that’s forward-thinking/educated and privileged, something we shouldn’t assume the writer has.

            My understanding is that the progressive urban middle classes of Pakistan are a tiny proportion (by comparison with Western Europe anyway) of the population – correct me if I’m wrong.

    2. Commander Thor 1 Aug 2013, 2:42pm

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Pakistan

      Please supply your full name and address, as I’m sure the pakistani police will be most interested – you do realise that you are a criminal, right?

      1. Muhammad Ahsan Haroon
        133 – A, Clifton Colony, Peeco Road, 54620, Pakistan.

        And now please, stop being a drama queen, just be a Queen!

        1. Commander Thor 1 Aug 2013, 3:09pm

          As much as I would love to wipe the smirk off your face by contacting the Pakistani police, I suspect you are not even gay at all, and are just a troll. Either way, I’d either be hurting a gay person for my pride or wasting my time. Nevermind. Carry on.

    3. Commander Thor 1 Aug 2013, 2:44pm

      Just because you have managed to find a partner, and that you have no personally been murdered (yet?), does not mean that Pakistan is a pink paradise.

      1. Hahahaha lolz. . I never said Pakistan is a pink paradise. . I just said that the picture writer has portrayed is rather too bleek while for some of us, reality is quite bright. I have been to very fun gay parties with all sex, booze and fun in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. Yes, there are laws against homosexuality in Pakistan but there has never been such a case except one.

        There is a lot of male-to-male interaction in Pakistan without the fear of being labelled gay. I’d call this a pink dream and if you play your cards right, there is a lot, and i mean a lot, sex in it too.

        P.S still waiting for the police on my door step!!!

        1. Commander Thor 1 Aug 2013, 3:24pm

          Speak for yourself – being gay isn’t all about gay sex. This focus on gay sex shows you either have an unhealthy idea of how sex and relationships work, or are a troll.

          1. Wow you really are a true representation of western media; twisting and manipulating the words of others to get what you want.

            Anyhow my friend, I would stick to my words. I would rather go out and make something for myself if the world is not willing to give. I don’t have time to think about John or Patrick and their gay wedding when there are people who are dying of ADS or hunger and when there are youth committing suicide because they think they are wrong. There is nothing wrong or right; there are just experiences and perceptions that make our world gay or sad.

            P.S you can hate me all you want!!

          2. Commander Thor 1 Aug 2013, 5:37pm

            I don’t hate you. I actually agree with you on the issue of encouraging people to get out there to make a life for themselves instead of the pity party.

            I do find odd your obsession with <>

            I don’t go around talking about my “guy tricks” with any of my friends. I do mention my partner of nearly four years when replying to “What have you got planned this weekend” and I don’t have to pretend to be single.

            If anyone finds that upsetting, it’s their problem. They are not worth my time.

            Is that too westernised for you?

    4. Agreed , being Gay in Lahore or perhaps any other metropolitan city of Pakistan isn’t half as bad as the writer seems to portray .Ive been out to my friends both straight male and female , and have been gladly accepted and cherished for being who I am . I have even had them stand up for homosexuals during arguments with other not so tolerant peers , and mind you these are the same people who’d coolly refer to anything ugly or weird as ‘so gay’ before I had the courage to reply with a ‘Oh no , you didn’t!’
      I may not be speaking for the majority here , but I love my life in Pakistan,and so do a considerable number of my gay friends
      I guess i may be one of the few lucky ones who do not go through the extreme amount of torture the writer seems to incur on a daily basis , but then again so are all my gay friends , and perhaps all of the guys Ive been with as well ( a pretty handsome figure considering the huge whore that I am )

  12. I have never ever met any elderly or young man or woman who says such thing about transgenders. Infact transgender people are recognised and have more rights than a normal gay person do. The misconception about gays being sex maniacs is partly true. The guys in San Francisco, London or Berlin while planning a pool party have mostly sex or drugs on their minds not finding a potential husband.
    Yes, we have problems but things are changing. Our soceity is becoming more and more tolerant at least in the big cities. I’ll suggest to take your life in your own hands. Find a good job and once you’re financialy stable, move out of your home. That way you can have more freedom. Don’t let others including your parents lead your life for you. Don’t lock yourself in your room, spending your days crying. Go out and do something!
    And if you don’t like, then stop being a Muslim!

    1. Find a good job and once you’re financially stable is, from my observation, something that’s rather more easily said than done for the greater part of the population.

      1. Commander Thor 1 Aug 2013, 5:41pm

        Further, one thing he misses completely, is that emotional independence from your parents and home community is a really difficult thing. It’s actually harder than financial independence.

        I achieved financial independence at 18, but I still hated myself because of my parents views on homosexuality. It was only at 21 that I finally told them to deal with it or fcuk off. My dad didn’t talk to me for 6 months, but he eventually got over it.

        Even in England, today, I know of two people whose parents are rabidly homophobic religious loonies. One of them has recently walked out of his parents house, and told them to deal with it, and the other thinks “I’m not sure I’m gay – I’m still young.” He’s 21, and admits that he has never found a female body sexually arousing, nor wishes for companionship from a female.

        Our friend is lucky he has had such progressive parents, but he really hasn’t got a clue exactly how lucky he is.

    2. Gay guys in the west most certainly do NOT all think about sex and drugs. I’ve had sex once this year, and all of my LGBT friends hate drugs. Most of us get pretty lonely and long for a commited relationship and a husband. The media has taught you wrong about the west, much like ours has taught us wrong about the east.

      Mr. Pink

      1. Only once? Poor you.

        1. Twice actually, as of last week! But that’s probably twice more than you (the psychology behind your comment is amusing)

          Some of us aren’t desperate for sex 24/7 and are content to have the odd fling here and there, believe it or not. It’s not a competition, I’m a good looking and talented guy and I could have sex every night if I wanted to, but some of us actually have standards and aren’t desperate horny losers.

          Mr. Pink

  13. This is a sad story. I think that many of us – especially those of us over 40 – will see parallels with our own earlier lives. Although we enjoy much more freedom here in the West, I think it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s really only since the end of the 90′s here in the UK that we’ve seen any real progress since homosexuality was decriminalised. The degree of openness and protection we enjoy in the UK is only just a little over 10 years old. Before that there were no civil partnerships, it was legal to sack someone for being gay, or to deny them services. Section 28 prohibited the discussion of anything related to being gay, leaving young gay people in a vacuum or ignorance and homophobia. It’s quite sad to see some of the posts on here advocating that people should stay in the closet. If things are to change then it needs those people brave enough to put themselves at risk to make a stand. Although that’s easier said than done.

  14. I find not enjoy this story, it didn’t feel like real, rather something forced and exaggerated. I think no matter where you live in the world, coming out is never easy, people go through their personal turmoil before deciding what to do. Don’t most gay men pretend to be interested in girls, and entertain their parents ideas of marrying a nice lady, I did. And also you talked about stereotypes…and then said about gay men organising ‘gay pool parties’ and partying as if that’s all we ever do. Also I don’t understand why somebody would publish his Twitter handle if he indeed were so scared.

    1. Commander Thor 4 Aug 2013, 10:37am

      I’m alright Jack.

    2. I must have been from a diffeent gay race then. I have never felt any turmoil in coming out. (i’m not being rude, please don’t think that) but I always knew I was gay and never had any problems with it. My parents knew about it and when I told them I was 15, mum then asked me “if I had any news or that was it”, she knew all along, so did my dad. I’m 34 years old in a relatioship for 7, maried for 4 and we are very happy. I was very lucky in having a very supportive parents and sister. My whole family knows about it and not one has turned their back to me. I told them that I cannot change who I am and I would refuse to change anyway. I feel sorry for some of the gays around the world that have to go through hell. And when it comes to pool parties, yes we enjoy hem, stereotypes are a horrible thing to do, noone believes I’m gay when I tell them, maybe thats because I am so relaxed about it that i don’t even bother to see if people are taking the piss or not.

  15. I’m 22 and from Pakistan.

    From the ages of 14-17, I felt the same sadness and had the same worries as the author. However, once I started to come out at 18 I realized how much of a non-issue it was to my Pakistani friends from school. (Granted, I haven’t told my family yet. But they have never had any homophobic tendencies)

    I am now living in New York City, studying finance, and living with my boyfriend of 3 years!

    Life tip: Live Pakistan! Lol It may be getting better, but I wouldn’t live there.

    1. Both my brothers know, and they were very cool about it.

      I have never experienced any bad reaction to my coming out, it almost seems as though because of my coming out my friends became more accepting.

  16. Shotsoftruth 14 Dec 2013, 3:57pm

    If your biggest fear is displeasing your family, it doesn’t matter where you move to before you come out of the closet, it will hurt them. Acting on gay feelings of attraction is harram for gay men as it is for straight men. I’m not doubting your faith but if you truly believe in Islam, think about the action of acting on this desire as harram. The only reason your family cares so much is because they care about your spiritual state as well as your physical. They don’t want you to fall into sin. The best thing for you is to practice abstinence, deny your desire, you possess that strength.

  17. Shotsoftruth 14 Dec 2013, 4:09pm

    If your biggest fear is displeasing your family, it doesn’t matter where you move to before you come out of the closet, it will hurt them. Acting on gay feelings of attraction is harram for gay men as it is for straight men. I’m not doubting your faith but if you truly believe in Islam, worry about the action it’s self, not your family. The only reason your family cares so much is because they care about your spiritual state as well as your physical. They don’t want you to fall into harram. The best thing for you is to practice abstinence, resist your desire, you possess that strength.
    I just want you to understand that if you act on your gay desire, you are falling into harram so you’ll have to make istighfar. I know it’s difficult but life was never meant to be easy and we are all filled with all sorts of desires, we’re human, but we also have strength to control them, difficult as it may be. Please email me my friend, if you need any help.

  18. Sahil Ahmed 28 Dec 2013, 3:26pm

    Give me a warm hug Sadii. Here’s another one suffocating in Bangladesh…!!! Struggling heart & soul to escape….
    Pray for me and pray for all the gay.

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