September 16, 2020
Religion can be fragile. Religion is more than faith. It is more than just hope for many. Religion is a way of life. Islam has been notoriously associated with rigidity throughout mankind’s history. But, this hasn’t stopped beautiful people from exhibiting their inner beauty. It’s undeniable that religion, no matter which religion it is, is despotic sometimes. It just depends on how an individual decides to look at religion and the role they are willing to offer it. Breaking away isn’t necessary. Breaking the shackles definitely is. We interviewed one such person this week. Kabir is a gay Muslim from Lucknow who has a dream. He is also hell-bent on achieving this dream no matter the obstacle.
Here is a peek into his life.
On his personality and daily interests
I think I am a pretty easy-going guy who is also kind of an extrovert. I love interacting with others, meeting new people in life and making friends and I am quite straight forward and outspoken.
I love traveling to new places whenever I get some spare time from my busy schedule. Right now, I have opted to get into the medical stream in my career. I have always been interested in science and working as a health care professional and serving mankind has always been my dream ambition. I also like listening to music and reading books whenever I find time for myself.
Who are some people that inspire you?
My inspiration comes from many LGBTQ people. This happened when I got in touch with a few of them through certain gay networking sites and other social media portals. I eventually came to know more about them and was able to meet some too. I admire @urnavishwas and @ashrafkhan_0786 personally. These people have given me a sort of inner strength and will power that helped me a lot in my life.
Growing up in a Muslim household
I belong to a traditional Muslim family. I have always been a very talkative person right from my childhood. However, I still found myself very timid and meek whenever it came to discussing or talking about my real sexual orientation with anyone. I have always feared getting refused and rejected by my society. There is a very real fear when it comes to my parents too.
I’m still waiting for the right moment to be able to disclose my sexuality to my parents. Hopefully, they will accept me for who I am as others in my life have!
When did you understand your own sexuality?
I always found myself interested in guys from an early age. I loved spending time, playing with the boys in my school. In the beginning, I thought that it was only friendship but later I realized that it’s not merely friendship. I actually was sexually attracted to them. I didn’t like or have any sexual feelings towards girls though there are many female friends of mine.
How important to you is religion? Being a Muslim, can you talk to us about the challenges that you have had to face?
Undoubtedly, religion has always been a powerful and unquestionable agency of social control for each one of us. No matter which nation you belong to, religion plays a remarkable role in judging, guiding and acknowledging behavior and the conduct of people at large.
In a sincere sense, belonging to one such community made it somewhat difficult for me to ‘come out’. Being a Muslim, I have faced many challenges as Muslim culture is pretty stubborn and strict and can be homophobic sometimes. This so-called homophobic nature has never let me confess my real side out. ‘Coming out’ is really difficult here. In a nutshell, I had to face a lot of challenges due to my sexuality.
Has the decriminalization of Section 377 given you hope for the future?
Yes, as every dark cloud has a silver lining, the decriminalization of Section 377 really gave me a ray of hope. It made it somewhat easier for us to face challenges. Now, many people have developed a sort of courage to speak about their sexuality in front of others (at least to their relatives and straight friends, as I did). The supreme court clearly stated that homosexuality is not a crime or sin by decriminalizing Section 377. The atmosphere of our society is changing drastically and people are becoming aware of our plight and have started helping us. However, there is a lot more to go and a lot more to face. I’m sure we’ll get through this as one.
Can you talk about your love life or about the relationships that you have had in the past?
I recently met someone through a dating app. He is very understanding. I would say that we actually are not quite in a relationship but we definitely do share a sort of love, sympathy, care and attraction for each other. We spend time together, eat out, fight a lot on stupid things, go to watch movies, and just spend a lot of time together. He is 26 years old and is an English Professor at a reputed institution in Lucknow.
What role have your friends and family played in your life? Have you expressed your sexuality to them?
My family is very supportive. My parents have always encouraged me to do what I like and what I am best at. I have only expressed my sexuality to my cousins and friends. I’m still waiting for the right time to be able to disclose my feelings and emotions to my parents too. Right now, I’m focusing more on my career.
My friends have proved to be precious because they have accepted the real me. They support me fully with regard to my sexuality, respect my feelings and have been very supportive.
Is there any advice that you would give to other LGBTQ+ people who come from a religious family?
There is no specific strategy that you can follow nor can it be pre-planned. I just explained to my relatives about myself. But when it comes to your parents to whom one is ultimately answerable, you definitely need some kind of preparation and your mindset needs to be strong. Be confident, firm and cordial when persuading them. It really helps a lot. Wait for the right opportunity, there is no need to be in a hurry. Finally, just be who you are! You should be accepted for the person you are and not the person THEY want you to be.
What are your thoughts on platforms such as Fifty Shades Of Gay (FSOG)? Is there anything that you think can be done better?
Platforms like FSOG are quite helpful for people who face such problems in their lives. They sow in them the right knowledge, technique, and courage to face these challenges boldly and effectively. I personally appreciate such platforms at large. Keep up the good work! Thanks.
For anonymity reasons, the person’s actual name has been changed to Kabir*