Growing up as a lesbian Muslim of Pakistani descent, it was a roller coaster ride for me. At a young age, my father got elected as the President of the local Islamic Society. I knew I was going to face hardship and a lot of passing comments. I was already being judged by my mother’s family. My mother’s family members emotionally blackmailed me and turned my parents against me or they turned me against my parents. Later on, I soon found myself undergoing depression and anxiety attacks. Therapy was my only hope, but I knew my parents would ask too many questions that I just wanted to avoid and just let me do what is good for me and my mental health.
Being the only child was hard for me. Throughout the years, I kept to myself and accepted myself and still felt like I was the only South Asian Muslim in this world. After high school, I was introduced to a book that changed me forever. It was written by a queer Muslim woman. That gave me some inspiration that I was not the only one in this world now. There was still a lot that needed to get done for myself still. Coming to accept myself as a Muslim lesbian was such a huge step for me as a person and my faith.
In my mid 20’s, I moved out of my parent’s house (got a supportive reaction and didn’t see that coming). I still found myself in a blocked mental state where many questions went through my mind. Once I got comfortable, I was able to go out, meet, date and find myself. One day, I randomly saw a post about a lesbian Muslim women’s group that was posted. I attended. This was a retreat that changed who I was and how I felt with my faith and sexuality. After the retreat, was when I knew everything will be just fine and I didn’t need to be scared of whether my family rejects me or does not accept me. It was only up to me to keep my self happy.
At this point, my father was somewhat supportive, but not 100 percent. Months after the retreat, I decided to create a community for LGBTQ+ Muslims, who are faced with unique challenges due to their cultural, linguistic and religious identities called Iftikhar (pride) Community. At this point, some family members know about my organization. They talked, but it didn’t bother me at all. My parents wanted to seem supportive, even though I knew that deep down they weren’t.
I keep up with what I do a podcast called Erum Rani, where I rant or give my opinions on important issues.