Out & proud
The words ‘This is a disease. Get him treated’ pierced the heart of 23-year-old Rizwan K when he came out to his family and friends as gay a month ago.
The words ‘This is a disease. Get him treated’ pierced the heart of 23-year-old Rizwan K when he came out to his family and friends as gay a month ago. But, he stood strong and faced his adversaries and hate comments with the support of his Ummachi.
Rizwan, who is a popular celebrity and bridal make-up artist settled in Kochi, spoke up about his sexuality recently on Aparna Thomas’s YouTube talk show, No Filter. While his family criticised him, many who watched the video appreciated his courage.
In the show, part of celebrating Pride month, he came out publicly about his sexuality and living as a gay man in Kerala along with years of abuse he suffered. Being a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is not a crime or a disease, he asserts.
“Young age is the time when we are confused about our identity and sexuality. The right guidance and care are important and will help us survive. I want to clarify that I did not become gay due to several years of abuse I survived. Genetically I am gay and I understood it while pursuing my graduation,” says Rizwan.
Though he welcomes the recent High Court verdict that reunited a young lesbian couple, Rizwan says, society is less willing to accept gay people. “Sexuality should not be a factor while considering someone for a job. My sexuality has nothing to do with my work and education. Society should not discriminate and isolate LGBTQ+ people who open up about their identities. After the video talk with Aparna, many youngsters, who are not heterosexuals, contacted me as it gave them hope. I was touched when a mother contacted me saying she could understand her young son better now. She has promised to support her son’s dreams,” he says.
‘Parents need to understand’
Hailing from an orthodox Muslim family, Rizwan feared to voice his doubts at various points in his life. He talked about a harrowing experience in his childhood — how he went through years of abuse, something he couldn’t reveal until recently.
“A teacher sexually abused me for around five years. It started when I was just nine years old. We all talk about when women and girls face abuse. But when it comes to men and boys, we are taught to keep mum. I am talking about it now because people like him should not be allowed to destroy our lives. I don’t want any children to suffer like me — be it, girls or boys,” explains Rizwan.
Rizwan says parents should find some time to speak to their children and open up. “I hail from a middle-class family and to say something against our teachers was a big no. And now, there is less transparency between parents and kids. I think parents should try to understand their children and their issues. May it be about their identity, sexuality or other stress. And especially about any unpleasant touches from others. Never scold them. Rather listen and comfort them,” he says.