Photo Credit: Peter Ride
What was it like growing up?
My family migrated from East Africa, where I was born, to Toronto in the early 7O’s. It was a difficult time for visible minorities. Canada was not yet multi racial in any way and there was a lot of racism. I grew up in a violent, inner-city neighbourhood, which was challenging.
How did you come out?
I came out in degrees at first. To my brother and close friends initially. But then my parents found out and it all got fast tracked. They were horrified and tried to convince me to ‘change.’ But now, after many years of working at it (on both sides), they are supportive and accepting.
What has been your inspiration in life?
Other artists have inspired me. The work of pioneering South Asian queer artists like Pratibha Parmar and Sunil Gupta. Toronto artist-activists like Richard Fung, John Greyson and Dionne Brand used their work about queer politics (amongst other issues) to form public queer identities and then forge communities –I was lucky enough to be part of those communities. Feeling part of a community, even a movement, was vital for me in coming out and accepting my sexuality, and making peace with being South Asian and gay.
What has been some of your greatest achievements?
Relationships: my supportive and accepting relationship with my parents; and my 22 year old relationship with my partner Peter Ride.
What is your message to the world?
To paraphrase Emma Goldman, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of this revolution.” Finding—even creating—pleasures and joy, even in struggle, has saved me again and again.
Ian Iqbal Rashid is an award winning Canadian poet, script-writer and filmmaker based in London, England. He founded Desh Pardesh in Toronto in the early 90’s. For more information on Ian check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Iqbal_Rashid