Sat Jun 13 2020 04:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
“My journey coming to terms with my sexuality is a long one, and definitely never-ending. Growing up, talking about sexuality was a huge no-no. Even saying the word “gay” was like saying Voldemort. Maybe even worse? I started to realize that I was different early on in life. Although I dreamed that the guy in my 5th-grade class would notice me, I realized that the tingly innocent feelings I had were not only reserved for boys. Each time an innocent crush for a girl developed, I felt overwhelmed with shame, guilt, and revulsion. I was engraved with the mindset that queerness was synonymous to being dirty. I kept it hidden deep inside of me and locked it away for the next 10 years of my life. Over time it became more apparent to me that I was different, which resulted in depression and suicidal feelings.
One traumatic event changed my life forever. On my way to school, I was sexually assaulted. My life turned upside down. So I decided to visit an Imam, as I was taught people do in times of desperation. I expected to find solace, but instead, I left more disturbed. He said, “Allah has done you a great deed! He knew you were having sinful thoughts, so he sent a man to jolt shock into you.” I remember feeling like I was punched in the stomach, but I quickly accepted what he said, as he was a respectable man. However, it created years of damage as I believed that I deserved what happened to me because of my sexuality.
Years later, I had started to see other South Asian people like myself and realized I wasn’t alone- but we felt as if we were. LGBTQ+ South Asians are forced to hide in the closet their entire lives in fear of getting killed or shunned away by society. I founded the South Asian Queer + Trans Collective, a grassroots collective that aims to create a nurturing space for LGBTQ+ brown folks. We host monthly support group meetings, book clubs, and more! As I am still in the closet, I fear for my safety as I open up about my sexuality. I have been stalked, harassed, and received death threats multiple times before. But I hope, someday, brown girls like me can live in a world where they can love the person they choose.”