What was it like growing up?
I come from a small and very conservative and traditional village. I belong to a typical Muslim family. I realized that I was different when I was ten years old. I spent my life while I was single in my village and then I moved to a big city to get more education. After completing my degree; I had no choice except to go back to the village and get married with one of my cousins, as all of my other sisters did.
I don’t want to be killed by my family; if they ever find out that I am different. I just completed my degree and moved to another city for a job. I am a well known social worker. I proved that I am special among my family (all boys and girls) as no girl or boy goes outside and works so independently. There is still so much family pressure to get married.
How did you come out?
I just started searching for other gay and lesbian people and I found them. These new friends know that I am a queer but they don’t even know about my real identity as it’s so risky for me. .
What has been your inspiration in life?
I am inspired by my father who gave us (all sisters) the opportunity to become educated and learn while he faced so much family opposition and pressure as girls’ education is not a priority in our family, in our village.
What has been some of your greatest achievements?
My greatest achievement is that I am living a fearful life but still I am considered as a very successful and competent person. I work closely with extremely vulnerable people and I always support them to become useful and independent citizens.
I can’t write what I do in my life. If I write my personal achievements here; anybody from my country can recognize me. I just want to say that people around me say that what I achieved alone as a professional woman; even a man in our patriarchal society, may have difficulty achieving. I have been told by many people that they consider me better than millions of men in my country.
What is your message to the world?
Learn to accept others and give the right to live to everyone as much as you give to yourself. Give complete freedom to all around you to be what they are. Always wish peace, love and respect for everyone. Believe in yourself and you are the one to navigate yourself truly towards your dreams. This is my life lesson for others.
The writer is a social worker, educator and activist. Minimal edits have been done for clarity and safety reasons.