Ali, in his own words: “For me being Gay is not just a word that explains my sexual orientation. For me it’s an inner voice that has helped me to do things I wouldn’t have done if I weren’t gay. The sacrifices I made, the battles I fought and the love and compassion I could give to others was only because I am a homosexual. I believe all homosexuals are sensitive, creative, and loving. Most people might not agree with me, but it’s okay.
Born and bred in a Muslim middle class family in Lahore, Pakistan, I am the eldest son. In my country the eldest son is supposed to follow the legacy of his father to set an example for the younger brothers. The idea of an effeminate, unconfident and confused boy as an eldest son or brother wasn’t acceptable for my father or brothers so, eventually I was put on the shelf as an embarrassment for the family. I was bullied in school and in my house and all I could do was to shut myself up and cry or to plan a suicide. I didn’t have guts to do the latter anyway.
After graduation, my father died and I started doing a job to support my family. Not to mention my job was not any different; I was bullied there as well. That was the time I realized that I should look for people like me with whom I could be myself. So thanks to internet I found ways to communicate with other gays in my city. I finally found out that I wasn’t alone and there were other people like me who have gone through the same torture.
Being gay in Pakistan is not easy. In public, in family even with friends one has to act straight otherwise one could face anything from public harassment, social boycott to even death. There are many gays living in big cities but they all try to be as much invisible as possible. Most guys are married, have kids but they also have random sex with guys to satisfy their real self. Rich gays arrange secret parties in their farm houses and somehow manage to live the life they want but gays from humble backgrounds always live is fear of getting caught all the time. Every kind of gay social networking is blocked and people rely only on Facebook and Grindr. But it’s not safe as well because you never know there might be a religious fanatic on the other end waiting to kill you to get a ticket to heaven.
So I have changed myself with the passage of time. Now 32 I have this rugged look (thanks to my favorite porn star). I am more straight acting (lol). I am trying my best to survive in this homophobic society. I even managed to have a relationship for 10 years. He was the love of my life. We couldn’t meet regularly due to fear of getting caught so we used to go out of city for some quality time every two to three months (just like Brokeback Mountain). But then after 10 years he remembered that he was straight, so he got married. I don’t blame him, he just couldn’t handle the pressure. My family still thinks that I am a loser despite the fact that I am still supporting them. They want me to get married. But I just can’t live a lie just to be politically correct. I read somewhere it’s better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not. Sometimes I get lonely, I feel suffocated and sad but then I start afresh. Sometimes I come across young guys in their early teens or twenties scared and confused as I was. I talk to them and try my best to let them understand that it’s okay to be different, it’s okay to be gay!”