A man who was told to give up on his relationship or face being cut off from his family for being gay has spoken out.
Khakan Qureshi said he had always struggled with his sexuality growing up in a Muslim household in Birmingham and even thought about taking his own life as a young student.
The 48-year-old said he was met with hostility and anger when he came out to his Indian parents at the age of 22.
He has also not seen his brother and sister for eight years because they refuse to accept his sexuality and relationship, reports Birmingham Live.
Khakan – who is a support worker for a housing association said: "Half of the family still don’t accept it, while the other half do.
He said: "I idolised and admired my eldest sister. But when she’s met my partner over the years, she’s just turned her back on him, she didn’t acknowledge him.
"When I was facing financial difficulties, my brother gave me the ultimatum: ‘Give up on your relationship, and you can come back into the family house.’"
Khakan said he knew he was ‘different’ from the age of three. And later knew he was attracted to boys at age 12.
But everything changed when he became a student in London.
He said: "Everyone was much more liberated, they’d identify as gay, lesbian, trans, which was a culture shock for me.
"People were encouraging me to go out and socialise."
He said: "It took me quite some time as I felt very anxious, and suicidal, quite depressed. It was a very lonely time.
"Elders say being gay is Haram and it’s forbidden, but I read the Qu’ran and the Bible as a student and it doesn’t say that as far as I’m concerned.
"It’s not what Islam says, but it’s just what people say. It’s a form of Chinese whispers."
A year after he moved back to Birmingham at age 22, Khakan fell in love a Christian man more than 20 years older – who would later be his life partner.
But he revealed how his mum was left ‘traumatised’ after learning of their relationship.
He said: "My mother had noted that I’d been going out more and queried me one evening and said: ‘Where do you go, who do you meet?"
"I explained I had met somebody. She asked ‘who is she?’ Then I had to tell her he’s a man.
"She was very shocked, quite traumatised. But asked more questions, was he a young man? What kind of person was he?
"When I had to say he’s older than me, a different faith, she was taken aback by it all.
"But she had to say loved me anyway. She said: ‘Don’t say anything to anybody else’. She could see how upset I was and just wanted me to be happy.
"I thought whatever they say, if it means leaving the family home and they throw me out then I’ll have to live with that."
And when it came to telling his homophobic father, he was furiously quizzed: "What made you this way?"
"My dad was very homophobic, he was very hostile, he would make reference to the Qu’ran, ask what made me this way? Inane comments really, so that was upsetting.
"The family started arguing between themselves, so I stepped away for a year to allow them to come to terms with it.
"One evening my father called me and said I need you to come home and speak to us.
"I did and that same evening he embraced me and said the reputation in the community is nothing compared to losing a son.
"However people respond to me saying my son is like this, I am ready with my answers."
The happy couple now live in what Khakan calls a ‘gaybourhood-friendly’ area in the West Midlands and they will be celebrating their 27th anniversary this year.
Khakan set up Birmingham’s first South Asian LGBT social support group to help offer advice and support to others like him.
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