The Two-Way (Being Asian and Gay in the UK)

Ian McCurrach (Editor of The Quest Newsletter) talks to Tahir Saleem (a previous participant on The Quest Programme) on being a Volunteer Assistant on The BME Quest Programme

Ian: Tahir, you recently took part as an assistant on The Quest Programme for Black, African, Black Caribbean, mixed Black and other ethnicity (BME) Gay Men, and Men who have Sex with Men. Why do you think it was important to deliver this programme for this group of men in particular?

Tahir: Asian and black gay men in my opinion and from my own life experience, definitely do have a considerable need for a programme such as The Quest Programme taking place in our community. Coming out is really a near impossible feat for us. Our culture typically involves the extended family, the neighbours and community playing quite a significant role in our life and usually an abundance of religion.

Ian: What issues do you think this group of men has to deal with that differs from other gay men?

Tahir: This is principally in two ways: firstly we battle a different culture and norms that make it considerably harder to deal with being gay, and then secondly upon acceptance of our own sexuality we become a visible sub group of the greater gay brotherhood. The black and Asian family, or peer culture, is embedded with shame, especially gay shame. Continue Reading →

The Two Way

Ian McCurrach talks to Nirmal Sandhu about being Gay, British and Asian 

Ian McCurrach
In what specific ways is it difficult being a gay BME around the issues of sexuality in your experience? I’m thinking family, culture, friends and peers.

Nirmal Sandhu
Family: Being gay feels at odds with a sense of responsibility that I used to feel about carrying on my family’s name. I am the eldest child and had a sister who died 16 years ago and so I felt a real pressure to marry and to carry forward the family name. I am from a Sikh background and there is a great emphasis placed on the role of the traditional family and your role within a community and actively participating in the community rather than acting on individual preferences. The dominant feeling is that being gay is dissolute and runs counter to these values because it doesn’t take into account the benefit of the community as a whole. I remember being called out on my choice of living away from my parents, and taking ownership for the way I want to live my life at a religious blessing by my parents local priest. Continue Reading →