Faizal (name changed), a Pakistani student in England

“I am a student hoping to work with people with learning disabilities. I live in England but we are Pakistani and hail from Mirpur, a small district in Kashmir (Pakistani side). But most people living in the district are ethnically Punjabi and my family is from the Jat clan.

I identify as gay/transgender. My gender and sexuality are very important to what makes me the way I am. However, I am sick of being discriminated against. I’m not very open yet but I have told my mum. Because she is so deluded and trapped by religion, she fails to recognise it. She tells me it’s a phase and that I should get over it. I follow no religion and I don’t think religion and people should have any say about our sexuality and gender. We should be allowed the same rights as everyone else because gender and sexuality are a part of who we are.

In the olden days, it was the other way round. White Christians were extremely negative about us whilst in Indian culture it was quite normal to be gay or transgender etc. I’ve seen many Hindu transgender gods too. Now the roles have been reversed. We are more homophobic and the western world is comparatively more accepting of LGBTQI. I can’t be myself because my religion prohibits it. But straight people are free to be whatever they want. However, even out here, LGBT people are discriminated against in schools, work, college etc. People pull faces when they see two gay men kissing but yet praise and smile at seeing a man and woman doing the same. It’s things like these that I find horrible. But sure there’s progress, as recently we’ve been being given the chance to marry the same gender and that’s just in a few countries too! Marriage isn’t a heterosexual privilege; it’s a symbol of love. Luckily in England, I am legally allowed to marry a man but in some parts of the world you can get killed for even being gay, which is ludicrous. All Churches, Mosques, Synagogues, Temples etc. should allow people to marry in their traditional ways if they wish to. And religious scriptures that teach hatred against sexual minorities should be altered and adapted.

I also think we need to be more visible. Actually here in England, all the main soap operas have LGBT characters which is fantastic! But then again in countries like India, Pakistan etc. this would be very hard. I remember an Indian soap opera called Maryada and they featured two gay men but because of protests and complaints, the show was pulled off air, which I again find disgusting. We definitely need more LGBT representation in all fields.

A scene from the TV show Maryada

A scene from the TV show Maryada

I think gender reassignment surgery should be free in all countries, same sex couples should have the right to marry in every country and lastly, we need to continue with campaigns like this and keep things like Pride alive. Until we become equals in society.”

The Visibility Campaign features experiences of people identifying as LGBTQI as well as opinions of heterosexual allies. It attempts to fill a tiny part of the huge gap in LGBTQI representation by featuring the lived experiences of the gender/sexual minority from across the country, regardless of differences. The Visibility Campaign asserts the unique individuality of each person featured. It seeks to shatter stereotypes and broadcast the fact that LGBTQI people have our own strengths, weaknesses and identities, not suggesting this as a way to live, but simply telling that this is how we live.

If you identify as the gender/sexual minority, or as a heterosexual ally and want your story/opinion to be featured on The Visibility Campaign, write to Queertopia at outintheopen2014@gmail.com. Tell us why you think visibility is important.

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