Britain’s first Muslim drag queen: Asifa’s story
Trans-activist Asifa Lahore knew she felt differently to her family and friends aged 5. Born male, Asifa originally felt her attraction to men meant that she was gay. She experienced homophobic bullying at school, and faced down the many challenges of coming out as a gay person whilst being a Muslim, from a South-Asian background.
For Asifa, navigating life as LGBTQ+ meant a gulf opened up between her and her parents. It was difficult for them to understand. As Asifa explains, her parents’ didn’t have the terminology in their mother tongue to describe being gay, and they often feared a backlash from their community.
Coming out not once, but twice
Later in life, Asifa started to cross dress and perform drag. She was not only in her element: it was there and then that she realised - she was always meant to be a woman. She had finally found her tribe! Asifa completed her journey of self-discovery, coming out as trans aged 33. Despite starting her drag queen career as a gay man, Asifa's career hasn’t been negatively affected by now doing drag as a trans woman, as her act goes from strength to strength.
Watch as Asifa explains how important trans visibility is, especially as people of colour still feel marginalised within the LGBT community, and how being her authentic self has led to greater acceptance from her family and most essentially – herself.
Asifa’s advice for those who want to come out as trans:
- Seek out support - from charities and LGBTQ+ organisations
- It does gets better - there are so many friends you’re yet to meet. You are not alone even though you may feel like it
- You will grow - it may be hard in the short term, but in the long term, you can get to a better place of acceptance of yourself, and from others
- Don’t hide or remain silent - it could negatively impact your mental health to live an inauthentic life
- Before you come out - build your support network. You will need someone who is raising your flag at your back
- Take it at your own pace - don’t feel pressured by anyone
- Look yourself in the mirror - the best friend you can ever have is yourself
- In the worst case scenario – if your family don't immediately accept you, know that you will find your chosen family and your tribe. People can still come around to the idea and accept you later in life if they don’t right away.
Where to find support
You should not feel pressurised to label yourself or your gender identity. If you do feel you’d like to come out as trans, gay, lesbian, bi or pan to others, and are safely able to, you can find support on how to start conversations, and further advice, at Stonewall.
It is always good to speak to someone you trust about the issues you might be facing, no matter how big or small. It can be hard talking about gender identity, sexuality, relationships and mental health – everyone finds them challenging at times – so if you are experiencing difficulties, don’t feel ashamed or different, and don’t feel you have to hide away from it. You can also find help on a range of issues at Young Minds