I’m in a somewhat contemplative mood tonight (actually, early this morning after sehri) and I felt compelled to write. So I’m here sat at my desk and I catch a glimpse of the two awards I won; one on student representation and the other a prestigious one. It’s funny, people are often praising of the work I do, my human rights activism and perhaps mainly of how vocal I am but what they fail to see is just how easy I have it. I have a somewhat privileged life. The thing that makes some people look on in awe is the fact that I am an openly queer Muslim woman from a South Asian origin. For many people I am the first South Asian person they have come across who defines as queer and indeed the first Muslim in most, if not all cases.
So my life hasn’t been easy sailing all the time; I struggled with my sexuality for years, went through depression and I finally mustered up the courage to come-out to my mum and even then that’s proving to be an entirely different journey in itself. My family know beyond reasonable doubt that I am a lesbian thanks to the elections video I did. I have this thing where in the back of my mind I know how things will probably go down and I have a tendency to do them anyway because it almost puts me in a corner where I cannot back out and so then I have to deal with it. In this case, it was coming out to my community more so in a way in which I did not have to do it personally, or rather face-to-face and that there was no way I could take it back.
Anyway, I digress, my point that I’m trying to make to make is that university really has allowed me to be the person whom I am today and I am not just referring to my sexuality. I love how university, particularly my experience, has been that of a liberal equality bubble where everyone (mostly) respects each other and you are allowed to be whoever you want to be without fear of judgement or any sort of reprisal. Actually having just said that, even at university I have had to face homophobia and the lack of understanding around it but largely my point still remains. It is easier to be who you want to be whilst at university when surrounded by like-minded people (most of the time) and I suppose the biggest challenge is continuing to put those beliefs into practice even outside university and indeed even once you have left.
I have a scratch that I need to itch (don’t worry it’s not a disgusting one!) The scratch is my increasing desire and kind of compulsion to get involved in local politics at home and that will be the biggest challenge yet. Whilst there is no need for me to tattoo on my forehead “Queer Muslims ‘R’ Us” there will most certainly be challenges that I will need to face in terms of remaining steadfast in my convictions and being a voice both for young people, my community, women, Islam, human rights and a whole heap of other things too. Whilst I do not claim to be a scholar or an expert on any of the aforementioned areas there is a strong need for people to continue to discuss these issues in public and also within the political arena and there is an even bigger need for more young people, women and people from Black backgrounds to get involved within politics as there is an alarming lack of representation of these sections of society within Westminster.
Gandhi said (you ALREADY know what I’m going to say next and that’s brilliant but I’ll say it anyway!)
“Be the change that you want to see in the world”
Well, guess what? WE really are that change. A friend during a radio interview earlier today said
“It’s so easy to complain but it’s harder to get out there and make a change”
and this couldn’t be truer. So no matter what challenges, barriers and adversity we may face the important thing that we must all try to do is not only remain steadfast in our convictions and beliefs but make sure that our actions match these convictions and beliefs.
Oh and just in case you were wondering, here’s my Student’s Union election video… It so cheesy it’s lovely! ❤