130 150 miles to find acceptance in our communities
On 30th July, 2014, my fiancé and eternal soulmate Naz (Dr Nazim Mahmood) sadly passed away, two days after his family confronted him about his sexuality. It was the first time that they had heard about our 13-year relationship and our plans to marry.
Nothing could have prepared either us for that moment.
I hope that by walking this journey it may raise awareness that homosexuality is not a ‘sin’ and is not something that must be ‘cured’. This may may prevent another young person feeling that the only way forward is to take their own life.
Please watch this video and you’ll understand why we all have to stand together, right now, to drive a positive change through religious communities around the UK
After Naz passed away, inspired by his desire to always help others, I founded the Naz and Matt Foundation, a charity which aims to raise awareness of the devastating impact of homophobia within communities that are heavily influenced by religion.
I can’t sit back and let this continue.
To raise awareness of these issues and to help fund a range of special projects and initiatives with the aim of changing attitudes and increasing acceptance of gay, lesbian and trans young people born into religious families, and to offer support to LGBTQI individuals affected by the issue, I will doing a 130 mile sponsored journey, mostly walked, from London to Birmingham.
“The Journey to Find Acceptance” will be spread over eight days, starting on the 18th of April. I will be joined by friends on the journey, and I am inviting members of the public to join with me to walk part of the route, to help me ‘carry a message of love and acceptance along the way’.
I will be engaging with religious communities along the journey to gauge public opinion on acceptance should their own children come out as being gay.
The journey is beginning at Hampstead Cemetery in London, where a private memorial service was held for Naz shortly after his death, and the journey ends in Handsworth Cemetery in Birmingham, our hometown, where Naz is buried.
The start of the journey will be celebrated with fabulous opening party in London kindly hosted by Club Kali – the UK’s biggest LGBT Club where eastern beats/tunes mix/spiced up by Western classics. <strong>Please note – to preserve the safety of the individuals that go to Club Kali, this part of the journey is by invitation only. If you’d like to get on the guest list, please contact the lovely team at Club Kali directly.
And as we reach Birmingham several days later, Saathi Night in Birmingham have graciously offer to host a closing party to bring people together, to meet, to talk and party.
Sponsor the journey
To sponsor my journey, please click on the ‘Sponsor Me’ button below. Money raised will be used to help fund a range of special projects and initiatives with the aim of changing attitudes and increasing acceptance of gay, lesbian and trans young people born into religious families, and to offer support to LGBTQI individuals affected, I will doing a 130 mile sponsored journey, mostly walked, from London to Birmingham.
We need your help to reach as many people as possible as we can. Please share this event with all of your friends using the social media links at the bottom of this page.
Would you like to help us Fundraise? If that’s a yes, please can you either ask people to sponsor me via the official JustGiving Page for the journey
If you plan to walk with us part, or all of the way, and would like people to sponsor you for journey you are making, please click on the Orange FUNDRAISE FOR US button on the following page:
If you’re on Facebook, please can you can you let us know if you’re planning to attend:
THE ROUGH PLAN
(subject to change as we finalise preparations)
Friday 17th April (evening)
– official opening party at Club Kali
– meet new friends, party, share stories and find strength in each other
– Note: to preserve the safety of the individuals that go to Club Kali, this part of the journey is by invitation only. If you’d like to get on the guest list, please contact the lovely team at Club Kali directly.
Start of walk – London leg
Saturday 18th April (meet 10am, 11am start)
– start of the London leg of the walked journey from (West) Hampstead Cemetery
– please meet outside of the chapel, located in the centre of the cemetery
– please dress fabulous, or in drag, and make a statement
– members of the press may attend
The main journey
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
Sat 18 – Watford High St Station
Sun 19 – Luton Town Hall Square
Mon 20 – Milton Keynes Central Library
Tue 21 – Northampton train station
Wed 22 – Rugby Museum and Library (& Info Centre)
Thu 23 – Coventry Lady Godiva statue
Friday 24th April (evening)
Saathi Night, Nightingales
RSVP via Facebook
– the journey will reach Birmingham on foot.
– official closing party at Saathi Night (@ Nightingales)
– share stories, meet new friends, and celebrate each other’s love and diversity
Final leg of walk
Saturday 25th April
Meet at 11am outside Nightingales.
Leave at 11.30am.
– final walking leg of the walked journey (just under 6 miles)
– Meet outside/on the corner of Nightingale Club (Essex House, Kent Street, Birmingham, West Midlands B5 6RD)
– please dress fabulous, or in drag, and make a statement
Arrive Handsworth Cemetery
Saturday 25th April
arrive before 1.30pm
– a special, peaceful moment to celebrate and remember the lives of all the beautiful people who have struggled and lost, or continue to struggle to find acceptance from their families and the communities they live in. And to remember the beauitful life and soul of Naz (Dr Nazim Mahmood) who spent his whole life helping other people.
– meet at the gazebo, on your left, near the main enterance of the cemetery.
Getting back to Birmingham from Handsworth
101 Bus can take you back from the Handsworth Cemetery to Birmingham City Centre.
There is a lot to still plan and organise, so please accept my apologies in advance as we get everything finalised and organised. Some details are subject to change.
We need volunteers to help us organise the event, please please send message me through FB if you can help.
THIS PAGE WILL BE UPDATED AS MORE DETAILS ARE NAILED DOWN, SO PLEASE KEEP CHECKING BACK ON THIS PAGE IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO GET INVOLVED.
I cannot find words that will express the sympathy I feel for you in your grief. You have suffered an unspeakable loss.
I hope that the warmth of the support you are getting from your family and friends will comfort and help you in your distressing
circumstances. De profundis.
You are brave and fantastic and you must miss Naz terribly.
I was immensely moved by your.interview in today’s Guardian, I feel very sad for your loss and the distress both you and your partner must have felt at his parents bigotry. I will make a donation through just giving and hope your work goes well. I hope you will consider doing some outreach work to schools, I know young people who are struggling with these issues.
Very best wishes,
Have just read your heartbreaking story in today’s online edition of the Guardian. I’d just like to say how deeply sorry I was to read that in 2015 and in the Uk, family attitudes like this still exist.
To see 2 loving guys,together for 10 years,both of you successful in your professions and then unexpectedly to be shattered by sheer ignorance is unbelievable – shame on them!
I hope that through your foundation the memory of your partner Naz will always be an inspiration for many others facing the same dilemma.
I wish you success in your venture and that with time and determination these barriers will finally be broken.
Take care Matt, John (living in Brazil)
Such a waste of a beautiful young life – and such a loss to Matt. I wonder if other mothers would think differently about their gay children – sadly I do not think so. Education, culture, religion etc plays a big part rather than simple love and acceptance of any so called ‘normal’ life. Big shame. My love and comfort to Matt.
This is extremely sad, he seems like he was a nice and humble person..I am sorry for your loss Matt.I know you are going through a lot of pain considering the person you love is no longer with you..It is a shame that instead of embracing their loved ones with unconditional love famiies seek to reject them.Sad to say this keep happening over and over again and family members still doesn’t learn a thing from any of this..They rather go to their kid’s funeral than accept them for who they are..God created each and every one is his own likeness and he loves each and every one..I do hope and pray for you Matt that you will find some kind of peace..I know you will never forget him and the love you two had,but it will get easier to deal with as time goes by..Stay strong!!
I am writing to try and convey my heartfelt sympathies for your loss, and deepest thanks for for your brave decision to publicly speak out concerning the bigotry at the heart of most Muslim families who apply Koranic rules that should have been long changed.
I work in education and have tried to be supportive to young people at college affected by the demand for obedience from their families.
I would love to be in touch with you and volunteer in some way that might be helpful. I hope you don’t mind that I along with two other friends have written about the situation you are facing on the blog. I am having got keep my identity secret for now, due to huge levels of verbal and emotional abuse from all my siblings and parents. I was very touched by the depth of your understanding and love. May you receive all the loving support from every direction. You are honouring Naz and the love you had for one another in the best possible way. Not many heterosexual relationships are as deeply loving as yours.
May the prejudices people open their eyes to what love really is.
Respect to you, your family and friends.
He would be so proud of your strength,bravery and courage. I hope many will support and sponser and walk with you on your journey of acceptance from West Hampstead cemetery to Naz’s resting place in Birmingham. This falls near his birthday when he would have been 35 years young. I miss him terribly everyday but I feel he is with us in spirit and channels his energy through your work at the Naz and Matt foundation.
All my love
Your courage and strength is awesome. Unfortunately bigotry and prejudice is not just the perogative of the Muslim world and must be challenged at all levels. Your walk will be making a profound statement for respect, love and acceptance – stay strong.
My love + blessings to you both.
More then anyone , gay or stright , you gave us hope for true love and to find our soul mate.
Thank you, more, for the awareness that we need to bring to our people and educate them better…
Thank you Matt + Naz, this is just the begining of a journey for us all…. Thank you.
For all my people, for Naz, for you Matt…. One love ,
Matt , having just seen your interview on central TV I just wanted to say that your bravery, courage and obvious deep love is an inspiration to all whether gay or straight. I hope that time, love and support from family and friends will see you through.
It is shameful in this day and age that there are still ignorant people who think we have a choice – sad to say, they seem to exist strongly in our Caribbean ,Asian and African communities. When our rap/reggae artists finally stop pushing homophobic lyrics and truly concentrate on lyrics of peace maybe our youth will get the message and family pressures will ease. Stay strong Matt.
Dirty bastards rot in hell u queer cunts
So sorry Matt. Carry on for both of you. You will save another life with your amazing foundation.
You’re doing great work and hitting on a massive issue that is brushed under the carpet but impacts so many. Hoping that with changing attitudes and tolerance things improve. Wishing you all my best.
Hi, you came into my school today and talked about the Naz and Matt foundation. Thank you so much for talking to us!
Your story is so inspiring and I am so happy that you are trying to make a positive change about the attitudes towards the LGBT communities in religious communities. This is like the third time I’m crying from watching your videos, you have no idea how much your story has touched my heart and because of this website, I have seen evidence of homosexuality not being a sin.
It is people like you who are going to change the world.
Thank you so much for sharing your story and I pray that no other person has to go through what you and Naz went through.