I go by the name of Nomad. Some even call me Hobo. Primarily because for the last seven years of my life I have been floating. Floating in the sense that I had no permanent home address and I was job-hopping every three months while studying full-time. I am Muslim and gay.
I’m from a relatively small town in South Africa. I’ve been living on university campus residence throughout my years of study. Thereafter, I moved into a number of different apartments and my last, a shared house in the city.
I was raised in a prominent Islamic family. My family plays a pivotal role in the Islamic community of the town, has multiple businesses, serves as the leaders of the mosques and also heads multiple Islamic initiatives in the town.
I grew up in a fairly staunch, Islamic home and was raised within the climate of ‘that way of life’. While I was living in my hometown (before my move to university), I followed that which was dictated to me, including being a homophobe, with support from the holy Quran. What puzzled me is that at the time I knew that I wasn’t a heterosexual, yet I condemned homosexuality. I soon realised that I was suffering from internalised homophobia.
Related reading: How my gay brother was driven to his death by our parents
At first I ignored it
Knowing the conflict within myself would eventually drive me to insanity, I made the choice to avoid that aspect (my sexuality) of my life by focusing on my academics and my career. I excelled, made the dean’s list at university and my career started off very well. This was mainly because I dedicated all my free time to my work and studies.
Being granted the opportunity to attend university, I believe, was a blessing in disguise. It opened my mind to what was beyond the borders of my hometown and Islam. It came with the opportunity to travel and to listen to the life stories of others. Today, though I am still Muslim, I have somewhat built a stronger relationship with Allah than I had before and have an unconventional way of practising my religion. I am also more tolerant towards those who don’t share my religious sentiments.
Last year was my final year of study within my undergrad course and I had a lot of free time, as a result of my workload becoming less. This is the point where my life diverted towards facing that which I have avoided over the past few years.
Related reading: My Indian family prefers the closet
I had to accept my sexuality
Then I started feeling like I was naturally being forced to deal with my sexuality. I attempted suicide, suffered from anxiety and was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder. Earlier this year I was diagnosed with depression and I am now seeing a therapist – and using two types of antidepressant medication to cope, prescribed to me by my doctor. My parents are under the impression that my depression stems from academics and work, but obviously, that’s not it.
I have accepted myself as gay now because I wholeheartedly believe and feel that it is completely out of my control. I’ve accepted that this is how my God, Allah has created me, so surely he cannot hold me accountable for it?
I tried to find young Muslims in the city who could relate to what I was going through and be some sort of support system to me, but to my surprise, a lot of their families knew about their sexuality and accepted it. Most of these Muslim youngsters were so comfortable in the city’s gay scene (which I too came to learn of) and I, I still felt like an outcast.
I have no plans on ‘coming out’ either. It is a crazy ideology that the LGBTQIA community constantly have to validate their sexual orientation.
I have not an ounce of doubt that my family and the rest of my community from home will disown me once they ‘find out’. I even thought about leaving the country for good.
Why can’t I achieve happiness?
Right now, I am sacrificing my happiness, but over and above that, the authenticity of who I am for the sake of my friends, family and my community. Lately, it is the only thing that is consuming my mind and I have recently ventured into a relationship with a young man whom I adore.
Related reading: I had to choose between my family and my lesbian lover
I recently completed my honours academic year and relocated to a different city to pursue my career. Although I still feel that it doesn’t matter where I go in this world I will still remain unhappy. There’s no one in my family I can confide in.
I am OK to live my life alone with friends who support me, but I don’t want to, because I choose not to live without my family. I love them.
My greatest fear is not knowing how this is going to end for me.