God and me
Fizz Ashrif Story from LGBT+ @Sky
I felt that I had to choose between God or my authentic self and it was such a horrible choice to make because I wanted both, yet society and my community made me feel that I had to choose.
I grew up in a Muslim family and within Asian culture there were certain expectations of me: following the faith of my parents, not straying from cultural guidelines, getting an education, getting married, having children, and overall being a good Muslim.
The internal fight was the biggest struggle I've ever fought because I was taught that my religion forbade my reality, yet my truth was there and I felt that I was living a lie. I love God and didn’t understand how to cope, plus how would my family cope? What would the rest of the community say? Would I be disowned? Will I ever be able to speak with my family again? So many questions with horrible answers in my mind led to severe anxiety.
I thought about every step 100 times before I took it as all my actions and thoughts heaved with anxiety and consequence if anyone found out I am gay. Lying to myself made me feel depressed and untrue to my being. Praying to God made me feel like a fraud as if my prayers didn't count because I am gay.
I closed myself off to the world.
It wasn’t until I took time away and stepped back to look at the scriptures. I learned that God just wanted me to be a good human being, to be kind to those less fortunate, compassionate, loving of all his creatures and creations, and humble. God, being the Almighty and the most forgiving, loves me. My relationship with God is personal, not for public display, and it is only between me and Him. I learned to accept and love myself and God. I learned that God is the only one who can pass judgement on me so the questions of acceptance from my community and extended family were eradicated.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows in the beginning when I started to open up to my family; I was outed by my then partner before I was ready. There was some disappointment and disapproval of my “lifestyle” and there was assurance that no matter what happens I would be protected because that's what family is for. But this was a big blow to my confidence so I crawled back into my shell again, avoiding the subject all together. Soon the partner became the Ex and I healed my wounds.
However, in time the acceptance from my family grew greater, their way of thinking progressed, we had open discussions without guilt and I felt the love, support and encouragement to “live your best life” which made my confidence grow again.
I then met the love of my life.
When I built up the courage to speak to my mother, I explained that I can still have all the things she dreamed of for me like marriage, a wedding, her giving me away, children, and be a good Muslim. It took time, however, and she proved to me the highest level of faith with her unconditional love and acceptance. My eyes well up every time I think about it because my mum is such a strong women with a caring soul, the epitome of what God wants us to be and everything I strive to achieve in my life.
My family and partner regularly enjoy family time together. We are currently in the process of moving in together with the blessings of my family. I am thankful firstly for God and for the support from my partner, my family, work colleagues, and friends who provided ears to listen to me, shoulders to cry on, a safe space where no harm would come of me, a loving home, a happy loving relationship, a safe working environment and a warm embrace of acceptance.
My advice is don’t rush, wait until you're ready and then talk about it. Always be true to you. You can love God and yourself, and you don't need to choose because no matter what the religion is, that relationship is between you and God