Love in the time of ‘intolerance’: Religion no bar for this gay couple


Nikita Bishnoi

Since childhood, I have seen gay comical characters in movies and television series and they often were ridiculed. I often thought, do these people have a life other than being someone to be laughed upon? When I was to do a project, I knew, to explore the lives of gay people was exciting. My camera became an instrument to capture the life they lived.

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About my subject:
  
After suffering alleged abuse, moral policing and homophobia for 26 years in Saudi Arabia, Ahmed Faraz alias Ali moved to India with his family. He is a single face in millions of people who are denied their rights to choose and love.  Ali, a Muslim is loved and cared by his parents but, they don’t want him to flaunt his sexuality. He is in a relationship with a Hindu man, who is reluctant to disclose his sexuality. 

After suffering alleged abuse, moral policing and homophobia for 26 years in Saudi Arabia, Ahmed Faraz alias Ali moved to India with his family.

 

I documented the life of Ali for a month. It started as a professional relationship but eventually he became a part of my life. We shared a happy time together along with his family, friends and his boyfriend.

“Yes, the Pride Parade went really well. We all participated, flaunted our sexuality, demanded our rights, shouted slogans, showcased posters, got the media’s attention and had a “gay old” time. But we must ask ourselves, is one day in the entire year all we get to be ourselves?
When will we get the right to be accepted, the right to marry?” – reads Ali’s Facebook post.

Homosexuality is criminalized in India under section 377 of the Indian constitution. Every year in November a parade is organized by LGBTQ community symbolizing their pride and demanding decriminalization of homosexuality. Only for a day every year the community comes out in its full colors; rest of the year these people are entangled in immense struggle with their identity – which for some might even involve extreme tragedies: suicide attempts, murder, abuses etc.

During our conversations, Ali, talked about what he feels, who he was and how he sees himself, today. He talks about his fears, happiness and all that he wants us to know about people like him.  I decided to photograph him according to his interpretations.

Here are the set of pictures with his testament.

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“I have been abused, called names, shown gestures to piss me off and made to shut my mouth up. I have nothing else in return but continuous explanations of my love as I have always given.And, I still hope that someday you will understand my love.”

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“I know by looking at me nobody can recognise I am gay. I am not loud. But sometimes, I become conscious amidst the people who don’t even bother about my existence. I wonder, would they have behaved the same if they knew about my sexuality?”

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“When I came out, I thought my family would understand me, support me. Instead, they screamed at me, they were angry and still are. I keep calling and they flee from my identity.”

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“I don’t fear stones or murder as long as I die a homosexual.”

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“Mom knew what I needed even when I was a toddler and couldn’t speak. I don’t know what prevented her from watching my restlessness… I was burning badly.”

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“You say ‘let him/her die!’ to the people you want to curse. Death is not a curse dear, living in a world with no heart is!”

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“I have been dead more number of times than the graves in the graveyard. After coming out I feel my grave has been demolished and I am ready to lead a life where death cannot scare me.”

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“When I came out, I felt as if I kicked a huge burden off my head. I am so much in love with myself now that I don’t care what names homophobic people call me.”

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“I am very good at covering myself up. When I am caught up amidst unfavourable or uncomfortable people, I cover myself so well that they cannot peep inside the blanket I wear over my body.”

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“No matter how many times I have to cover myself up. I love myself, I love myself, I love myself!”

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“Isn’t it a necessity in today’s world to have numerous faces?”

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“No. I don’t want to choose.”


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