“Growing up in Bangladesh, I was told that homosexuals would go to hell. And I believed it. I knew I was gay, but all the time I was told that it was dirty and sinful.” Nadim share’s his deeply personal journey to find acceptance, and love.
I was told that homosexuals would go to hell
My name is Nadim. Growing up in Bangladesh, I was told that homosexuals would go to hell. And I believed it. I knew I was gay, but all the time I was told that it was dirty and sinful. I felt disconnected from country, my community and my family.
We are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t.
Unable to speak to anyone about my sexuality, many nights I would cry myself to sleep. Sometimes I felt like the loneliest boy in the world. I was scared, alone, depressed, zero self-esteem, terrified of my sexuality being found out by other people.
I didn’t realise who I was until I stopped being who I wasn’t
My First Pride Experience
My journey to this point has been long, but going to Pride in London for the first time was the point I knew there was no going back. I was buzzing with joy and anticipation. For someone born and brought up in what felt like a cage, this was experiencing freedom for the first time. Instead of having to hide myself away, I wore a rainbow outfit, with glitter on my face.
I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance, and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, “I am GAY, I am proud of my sexuality”.
People cheered me on and high-fived me as I marched with my new LGBTQ+ family. Going down the Regent Street holding a rainbow flag with my friends, for the first time ever I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be – like I was part of the biggest family reunion ever. The energy, love, and acceptance were breathtaking.
It takes some intelligence and insight to figure out you’re gay and then a tremendous amount of courage to live it and live it proudly.
Rebirth of My True Identity
Coming to safety in the UK has allowed me to experience a rebirth. I can live my life as openly gay, out and proud. And I’ve had the chance to meet the love of my life. I can’t live a day without him.
I’ve been embraced by a new community. That’s what happens when you’re finally honest about who you are; you find others like you.
For me, the definition of home is the place you feel secure, where you can live without fear. Where you feel loved. And this is what the UK now means to me. Although I have lost touch with most of my biological family members, I now have a new family. I have my partner, my friends, my LGBTQI+ community. For the first time, I have a home where I feel safe, secure, and loved.
I can’t live my life straight because you are straight, I just got to live my life for me and do it for me. Because this my life
Living my life in it’s true colours and Identity
Coming to the UK changed all this. From the moment I arrived in Heathrow, I realised I could start to live the life I’d always wanted. I vividly remember walking around Soho for the first time.
I am a strong, Gay man. Every single time I say it, I feel so much better.
Seeing people dressing how they wanted and expressing their sexuality, it felt like I was suddenly seeing the world in all its colours, after a lifetime in black and white. I began to realise that being gay is a gift, not a curse. I began to realise that it was okay to love men.
I’m not ashamed of being gay, never have been and never will be. For that I have no apologies.
I now volunteer with London youth charities that help other young LGBTQ+ people to accept themselves and live openly. Many of the 14 to 18-year-olds I work with feel like I used to; like they’re the only gay person in the world. It’s such a powerful thing to help them to accept themselves, and realise that they are perfect as they are.
All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.
Accept Who You Are
My journey hasn’t been easy, but the UK has given me my life. My hope is that other people are able to get this opportunity. What I have learnt from my own journey is that the most important thing you can do in life is to accept yourself. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, whether you’re old or young; to be yourself, even for a day, this is what life is all about.
I think being gay is a blessing, and it’s something I am thankful for every single day.
First Muslim Pride
I am looking forward to attending the first ever Muslim pride festival this year. Many LGBT+ Muslims still find themselves “isolated, without community and frequently facing homophobic, biphobic, transphobic and Islamaphobic abuse”.
The Muslim Pride festival will provide a space for LGBTQI Muslims from across the UK to be empowered, engaged and to make no apologies for being practising Muslims and LGBTQI People.
“Love Is Too Beautiful To Be Hidden In The Closet”
Article by: Nadim
What is Muslim Pride?
In April 2020 Imaan – the UK’s oldest Muslim LGBTQI+ organisation – are curating what is believed to be one of the first ever dedicated Muslim Pride festivals. A celebration of what it means to be LGBTQI+ and Muslim.
In an increasingly intolerant world where there are rising levels of Islamophobia targeting Muslims, and unacceptable levels of homo/trans/bi/phobia directed towards LGBTQI+ Muslims, an event like Muslim Pride is needed now more than ever.
Just like we already have Trans Pride, Bi Pride, UK Black Pride and well over 100+ local prides spread out across the UK, Muslim Pride will provide a focused and much needed safe space where LGBTQI+ Muslims, their friends and allies can be celebrated without the fear of intolerance, prejudice and hatred.
Tickets for Muslim Pride go on sale from Wednesday 26th February 2020.