It all started in the summer of 2018. I was talking to my best-friend of over five years. She asked me to choose which pictures of herself she ought to post on Instagram.

I was star-struck. I had never felt this way about her, or any girl before. But seeing her, feeling a certain way about her, made me question everything.

Was she just a friend? Was I seeing her as more? Why do I suddenly feel it? Why now?

Questions ran amuck in my head. I’d sit and ponder at night if what I was thinking is normal. I had to knock it off. I knew being gay was wrong, in both my religion and culture. It wasn’t considered ‘natural’ per se.

But then, why was I still thinking about it?

As the days went by, the thoughts persistently wandered in my mind. I thought to myself, “if I just try and see what it’s all about, then maybe I’ll get a better understanding of what’s going on.”

So I did. I asked her out. To my surprise, she said yes.

Boom. My first girlfriend. It didn’t feel that strange. It was different, sure, but in a good way. I was more emotionally attached than previous relationships with guys, and it felt a lot more ‘real’. So far, we had only been texting, but then the big day came. Talking to her in real life.

Side-note: With every relationship I have had with a boy, I was extremely shy and couldn’t muster up a word when I saw them. But with this? I was as confident as humanly possible.

Thinking back, we didn’t talk as if we were girlfriends. It was more of a ‘friend-type’ thing. This was during school hours, and since neither of us were sure with what we were doing, we had to keep it a secret.

So we held hands when no one was looking, we hugged as “friends” but just a little tighter than usual. But then one day, we were alone.

We were bunking off in the toilets. No one around in our tiny little space. So I mustered up every ounce of courage I had, and kissed her.

I felt free. Calm. Relaxed. Sure, it was odd, but it was so exhilarating. It felt wrong.

At this point, I knew I wasn’t straight. I was into girls immensely. As I pulled away, she ran off in confusion. I tried to call her back, but the words didn’t come out. Did I just lose the one friend that brought out the real me?

Weeks passed. It felt as if I was left alone on a path of confusion, with no visible way forward. How could she just leave me like that, in this state? If we caught each other’s glance, we’d instantly turn away. If she was somehow next to me, we’d move away.

Although my mind was at rest from questions about my sexuality, it felt as if my heart had shattered because of my own selfish reasons. But one fateful day, I got a message. From her. I jumped out of my deep, dark slump and immediately opened it:

“Hey. Don’t hate me for running off please? It’s just, that kiss, it didn’t feel right. I think I’m [just] straight. I hope we can still be friends?”

I was upset, granted. I mean, wouldn’t you be, if you just had your first kiss with someone you just found out doesn’t like you? Ouch. It was a hard pill to swallow, definitely.

I was pretty pissed, but then again, I couldn’t be annoyed at someone for not doing what I want. It would be immature. So I had to accept fate, and get over it.

We ended up becoming close again, and to this day she is one of my best friends. But a part of me inside will always wish it could go the way I dreamed it might.

After this whole debacle, I thought it would be best to turn to my friends. I trusted them with anything and everything, so I thought telling them would be a good idea.

I was young at the time, therefore oblivious to the danger in declaring a sexuality other than heterosexual to people in the ethnic community. When telling them “I’m bi”, I wasn’t given the support and love you see on TV. Rather, I was shunned and ridiculed. Made fun of. That’s when I learned, this wasn’t something I could just be open about.

I had to hide who I was.

I laughed it off by saying that it was just a joke. To my surprise, they bought it. Maybe it was just a phase.

I passed it off as such, and acted as straight as possible. I dated a hell of a lot of boys. I kissed them, talked about them, declared most as my crushes, all so it could be apparent that I was straight.

But inside, I knew I wasn’t. But then again, was I?

I was sat in class one day when I got recommended this show, Ackley Bridge. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a show based in Yorkshire about a city with two divided cultures, brought together by the collaboration of both schools.

In the show, there is a Pakistani, Muslim girl, who’s lesbian.

Immediately, I took the suggestion and went to go watch it. My mum sat with me and we watched it together.

She was disgusted by the kissing scenes and talk of being gay, whereas I was filled with glee. Seeing something I’m currently struggling with portrayed in the media was a shine of light in a dark tunnel. The more episodes we watched, the more hopeful I was, and the more worried my mother became.

We were eating during Suhoor (the meal consumed early in the morning by Muslims before fasting in Ramadan), and the topic of the show came up. As I was talking about how great the show was for representing such issues, my mum turned to me with a serious face, and said:

“If you’re [ever] gay, I’ll disown you.”

My heart just sank. Although I was attempting to appear to straight, I still knew deep down I wasn’t. Hearing that from the woman who was supposed to be on my side through thick and thin isn’t the most encouraging thing to hear.

I laughed and shrugged it off like I did with my friends, by saying it was impossible for such things to happen. But inside, it marked the day I knew my sexuality would never be accepted.

The years went by. I began to repress my sexuality more and more. I wouldn’t act upon any feelings I had, and convince myself I’m straight.

However, in my spare time, I would part my hair in a way that would look masculine, wear ‘guy clothes’, and take pictures to look like one, as it felt both comfortable and natural to me. I battled a lot with gender dysphoria. But I repressed all feelings away, when I began dating this one boy.

I felt as if I had genuinely fallen for him.

I was head over heels and revolved my life, entirely, around him. I would wake up and text him, fall asleep on FaceTime to him. We’d play PS4 together during the school holidays. Even during school, we’d sit next to each other purposely so we could hold hands.

Although it may sound extremely cringe, it was. But in my eyes, it was what I wanted in a true relationship. I was so content. I didn’t even think to cross-dress or venture into my gay feelings. It was all going swell.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end with us getting married and running off into the sunset. Like all teenage relationships, it came to an end after six or so months.

During the near end of the relationship, he became distant, and doing so, he brought me back into my ‘gay ways’ as such. One day, whilst still with him, I was dressing as a guy and thought, “oh shit…this can’t happen!” I attempted to “pray the gay away” to no avail.

We broke up in January. I had lost ties with all of my mates. I had left school, and my mum wasn’t supportive, and stopped talking to me (but for other reasons). In that true time of loneliness, it’s almost as if the universe pushed me to confront who I was.

For the first two months after losing everything and everyone, it was hard to even attempt to figure out who I was, as it was so ingrained into me to repress it all. However, the more time I spent with my older brothers without my mum’s influence/negative energy, the more encouraging the environment was to open up.

As I gradually began to cut my hair shorter and shorter, and experiment with my clothing style, the inner me began to shine. It wasn’t as breezy as I would’ve liked it to be, as I had bumps along the road. But I knew I was so close.

I was becoming more open by talking to people online about their experiences. I met a good number of gay people on platforms such as TikTok and Instagram.

Some of them also happened to be Asian and coming out! From the people I had met, it ranged from their parents being totally cool with it, to some sadly admitted into foster care.

But either way, they were proud to come out, regardless of the repercussions because if they hadn’t, it would have fully destroyed them. And that was one thing I didn’t want happening to me. Not again.

One day, as I was cutting my hair just a tad shorter, and I had the sudden urge to come out to my dad:

After I had done it, I knew there was no turning back.

I laid in bed that entire night, tossing and turning trying to conjure every possible outcome.

I thought all signs pointed to being disowned, ruining my relationship with him, and never seeing him again. But to my surprise, I awoke to what would be the best day of my life.

He accepted me. He fully, genuinely accepted me. I was over the moon the entire week. I couldn’t have been more happy. Him accepting me meant nothing could stand in my way. If the people I cared about were cool with it, then I can freely come out. It was the biggest weight lifted off my shoulders.

As I browsed through TikTok, I saw someone. They were called Diya (@dexxone). They were bisexual, Muslim and cut their hair short; the way I also wanted it. I was so inspired by their courage and their bravery. I was in immense awe. So as I was so inspired, and had the support of both my brothers, and my dad, I knew I could be who I wanted, regardless of the hate.

So here it is. Me coming out.

I classify as a lesbian, but go by any pronouns, ie; she/her, he/him, they/them.

I cut my hair super short to feel more comfortable in my skin, and I no longer hide who I am. If I could, I would go back in time and just be out from the get-go, saving myself half the trouble I caused.

However, growth is important and I hope that if you happen to be in a similar boat to my past experiences, you can learn from this and be comfortable with you are. Don’t damage yourself for other people’s satisfaction in fear of their judgement, and be proud of who you are!

So on this special day of homophobic Muslims, Eid Mubarak. Have a gay one!

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